Chi came downstairs freaking out. There’s a fire upstairs in the attic!! I look over at My Man and shrug. He says, “Well, the fire alarm isn’t sounding and I don’t see any smoke.”
I say, “Calm down, Chi. Come sit here by me.”
He does and Pieces immediately scrambles to occupy my lap because that, apparently, belongs solely to him. After a while, we smell something burning. I glance up the stairwell and see smoke. Lots of smoke. I get a little panicky.
“Man,” I say, “I think Chi was right. There is a fire in the attic. We need to gather the animals.”
So we scramble around hunting down the two cats and the roommate’s doggie who seem to be dancing in the flames that I can see when I peek through the spindles on the railing around the stairway entrance to the attic. I lure them over to me with scratchy, squiggle fingers and smiles and tongue clicks and carry them down and out to the Giant Car that My Man has backed into the driveway. The back door of the Giant Car is open and I can see My Man strapping Chi and Pieces into their car seats. I stare at this for a moment after bringing the final animal out of the house to safety and feel deep down that there is something wrong with this picture. I squint and scowl and scuff my shoe on the concrete of the driveway trying to pinpoint what is niggling at my brain but not ringing any bells. I head back inside and start taking photos off the walls and unplugging electronics. I head upstairs to the office and grab my cpu and my husbands cpu and head back out to the car. I start piling my treasures on the porch and My Man is loading it into the car. As I’m heading back into the house, it hits me. My daughter is nowhere to be found. I, of course, start freaking out. I’m running through the house yelling for her. Somehow my feet are moving exceptionally slow and my yells come out of my mouth muffled. I decide that she must be up in her room. I go outside to confer with My Man and Chi confirms my suspicions. I head back inside with panic unfurling in my gut. Pynni’s room is on the top floor, across the landing from the attic that is now fully ablaze. I get to her door and open it.
Her room is in pristine condition and she is sitting on the floor playing with her American Girl doll. I have her grab her dolls and I start piling clothing and doll clothes and collectibles into her giant doll pram for quick transport to the Giant Car that is waiting for us in the drive way.
I make a couple of trips up to her room to get all of the really important stuff and make the trip into the boys’ room and my room and get everything that is not replaceable and quite a few things that are. This takes quite a long time. Five or six hours.
All this time I’m panicking. I’m having a hard time breathing right and I can’t seem to move fast enough and everything is immediate, yet takes forever. I can’t get anyone to call nine-one-one and get the fire department here to put out this dang fire that likes my attic so much.
Finally, we are done gathering possessions and determine that the best place to go is my mother’s oldest sister’s husband’s younger brother’s house. I’m gonna call him Mr. Ed. We drive right down the street to his house to let him know what’s going on and warn him that this fire is going to get out of control. With everybody being so complacent about it, it’s likely to burn his house down, too. When we get inside, his wife tells us that Mr. Ed is in the attic. I head on up there and he is building a wall with little slits in it. I peer inside and see a fire. I’m dumbstruck. He says to me. He says, “I liked yours and thought that I should have one, too. I figured I’d wall it in. I mean, I can’t put it out. It’s alive and needs a name.”
That’s right, Dave, I had a dream about you. Weirdo.