not in our stars, but in ourselves
Well. This is a personal post, and I apologize for that, but I suspect it’s because I was tempting fate by watching The Passion of Joan of Arc last week. Someone was paying attention, and decided to dole out a little contrapasso.
At about five o’clock this morning, after a slightly restless night’s sleep, I awoke to the sounds of things crashing down, glass breaking, and a lot of commotion. Assuming that my housemates were up to some drunken antics, I grumbled, “What are those assholes up to this time?” Then I noticed a smell, a horrible acrid smell; and then, after that, a voice and words started to make sense through the cacophony: FIRE, FIRE, GET OUT, FIRE.
I opened my bedroom door, and was met with awful-smelling, thick black smoke. I closed the door again, panicked, re-opened it in a brief moment of determination to run through the smoke to the front door – and then realized that defenestration was the way to go. Dream (il)logic made me pause after I’d opened my window, trying to figure out how to open the screen without damaging it. Reason, I am happy to say, prevailed: I punched the screen out and hopped outside. (My bedroom was on the first floor, so I didn’t have to jump down and risk breaking/splattering.)
My male housemates were running around as I called 911. I saw that, contrary to what I had assumed (a little kitchen fire, someone’s toast or pasta en flambe), there were flames leaping out the living room window. There was lots more yelling, running around, but somehow I found myself on the other side of the street, where some very kind neighbors provided water (and later shoes, breakfast, showers, storage space – just about every kindness possible). A fleet of fire trucks crowded our narrow street, and the firemen charged into the house. By that time, the flames had spread to the side of the house next door, and so they had to fight on two fronts. The entire street was awake and outside, watching in disbelief (them) and horror (us). EMTs tended to one housemate for smoke inhalation (she had gotten out, and then raced back inside to save her cat, who is safe and sound) and another for an injured foot (he had more a jump out of his window than I did, and hurt his heel). Otherwise, we were all safe.
According to Niko, of the injured foot, he woke up and saw glowing orange around the cracks in the partition separating his bedroom from the living room. He opened his door, saw and smelled the smoke, and started hollering at the top of his lungs. He tried the front door, but it was locked, and he couldn’t see it well enough to mess around with it. Time was rather of the essence. He jumped out the window instead, and then went with the other male housemate to make sure everyone was out.
We’re all safe. The house is unlivable now, but I do have a place to stay, as well as a place to move to more permanently as of 9/1. I’m still pretty shaken, as you can imagine, but completely safe. My stuff, too, was all spared. The door to my room was the only thing damaged; the black on the ground is just sooty water.
I was amazingly lucky.
Anyway, I probably will want to relax by watching something fairly mindless; whether that ends up being Fred and Ginger movies or Spice Girls videos on YouTube remains to be seen. In any event: nothing about fire. Not going to tempt fate again.