The newsman said it would rain.
There was not a cloud in the sky. The only sound was the crackling fire as it consumed the house I was born in. Flames were eating the attic. The windows were gaping holes of orange flame. It positively glowed.
The stars were visible thru the still leaves of the walnut grove. Burning points in the distant dark sky. The whole universe was on fire.
The night air was pleasant against my skin. I could feel the moisture in the grass underneath me. My arms were crossed over my knees as I watched the old house burn. Luckily, the one working smoke alarm at the top of the third floor stairs had gone off, giving me just enough time to leap thru my bedroom window onto the rough upper branches of the maple tree.
I just kept thinking, well, there it goes. I had no emotion filling me with rage, tears, or devastation. There goes the old house. There goes my old clothes. At least I know how it ended. All those moments, pictures, stuffed animals, board games, diaries, cereal boxes, television sets, birthdays, fights, lies, pillow talk, plans, up in flames. Gone. I was neither liberated nor devastated. I wasn’t stunned. I did feel a slight tickle of amusement as if it was the perfect ironic ending.
I was naked. On the lawn. In the grass. Staring at the moment when I knew my life would change.
There was no one to call. The phone was burned. Ha! The nearest neighbor was 5 miles up the road. Ha! How about if I walked 5 miles naked and barefoot thru cow fields. Oh yes God, that would give them something to talk about! The nearest planet seemed about as far away. Just a quick dash through through empty space, and hello Mars.
Oh. A very loud crash. Something on the second floor fell thru to the first. I think it was my dresser. Goodbye years of goodwill bargain shopping. I will miss your ill-begotten fragrance. I wonder if my bed wood soon follow suit, or if it was now weightless except for jagged glowing box springs reaching skyward.
I heard the engine rumbling down the potholed road. It sounded loose, and its echoes were swallowed by the field grass, and the density of vegetation, the heaviness of god’s hand. A muffled idling creeping closer. I didn’t turn to look at who it was. I knew that engine. The gravel popped beneath the truck tires as he ground the wheel, coming to a stop with no sense of urgency.
The door slammed. I could hear the whisper of his moccasins as he came nearer.
“Hi Ricci. Your house is burning.”
“I know Billy.”
“Where’s your folks?”
“Dads outta town on a business trip, Moms spending the night at Steve’s.”
“Oh. You want my flannel shirt?”
“That would be nice.”