The Fire

As many of our friends and relatives have to evacuate their homes, my heart goes out to them and to all those affected by the fires here on the west coast and neighboring states. I’m praying for you. May God give you peace and comfort.

The Fire
A short story – Kaci Rigney

It’s a dark morning; there is a chill in the air after a weekend of soaring 110 degrees-plus temperatures. Kathleen stirred and reached across the empty bed and opened her eyes. Why is he up so early? Sliding out of bed, she turned on the bathroom light, instinctively covering her eyes from its bright glare. She quickly arranged a ponytail, brushed her teeth, and washed the sleep from her eyes. Back in the bedroom, she glanced at the clock. Eight o’clock? Good grief, why is it so dark? She pulled aside the curtain. An orange hue penetrated the room covering the white comforter. 
What the heck? She thought, closing the curtains and opening the bedroom door to a dark hall. Turning on the light, she headed to her husband’s office on the other side of the house—the glowing dark orange peering through the living room blinds. 
“Back here.”
“Why’s it so dark?”
“I turned off the alarm, check outside.”
Opening the back door, she stepped out. Ash floated around and covered whatever it touched. Kathleen faced the eastern skies but couldn’t see the morning sun. Her heart lurched at the eerie sight.
“Where’s the fire?” she asked, entering the house.
“Close. We need to get our go-bags ready. I’m emailing my boss right now.”
Our house. Our things. What will we take? What if we lose everything?
“Kath, did you hear me?” He asked urgently.
“Yes, sorry. I’m gonna take a quick shower. Do you think I have time?” She asked numbly.
“Yeah, but hurry. I want to load as much as we can in both cars. We have some boxes in the garage, I’ll grab them while you get ready.”
“Oh, God.”
“Kath, we’ll be OK. Come on, get ready.”
She hurried into the bedroom and turned on the news. Turning up the volume, she listened to her favorite news anchor.
“A feeling of foreboding falls across the land as fire spreads its blazing path across the state. First responders airlift frightened people trapped in its wake. Animals of the wild roam towns with no place else to go. Ancient oaks and sequoias, amongst other flora and fauna, are lost in the aftermath. The whole west coast is full of smoke and ash, as the many fires sweep through the land.” 
“Gale force winds fuel the fire’s spread as firefighters from all across the United States come to our aid, battling the blazes. Scorched hills and trees line the highways and byways, evidence of fires contained. But, acres upon acres of smoldering and scarred land from Washington to Mexico burn with no end in sight. Whole communities are forced to evacuate the infernos threaten entire cities.”
In a mere two hours, the cars were full. Laptops, family photos, rare books, favorite collectible items, a few instruments, and Kathleen’s original music were among the precious few boxes. For the next hour, they raced through the house, taking photos of everything they could. 
“So many boxes in the rafters. We don’t have time. The sirens—” Alan said.
Panic greeted them as they hurried to their vehicles—neighbors shouted—a neighbor’s child cried, searching frantically for Fluffy, her cat. Alan and Kathleen took a final look at their home. 
Alan turned on the walkie-talkies and handed one to Kathleen. “Listen up, I don’t want to lose you.”
“I will. I love you, Alan.”
“I love you, too, Kathleen.”
They got in the cars and weaved their way through the horrible traffic. Friends, opening their home to them, waited fifty miles north. 
“Dear God!” Alan said through the walkie-talkie.
Kathleen looked in the rear-view mirror as tears slid down her face. A wall of flames followed in their wake, burning, one by one, every home on their street.
“Don’t look, Kath, just stay with me. We’ll be OK.”
“Alan, our house!”
“I know, babe. But we got out in time. We’re alive, and we have each other.” Kathleen follow her husband in a daze, while Alan prayed through the speaker, “Oh, God, we plead for mercy, in Jesus’ name. Send rain. Help the firefighters. Please, protect us. Sovereign God, heal our land,” Alan said, thankful to be alive.