“Wake up! The house is on fire!”
On my last night in Kauai, my Mom hauled me out of bed in the middle of the night. Swiftly, she towed me through the house my family had rented. As I was ushered outside into the warm, night air, her words sunk in.
Suddenly, a wave of panic came crashing down on me. My mouth went dry, like I’d swallowed too much salt water. Fear swam through my body, drowning the scurrying butterflies in my stomach. My thoughts came flying towards me at one hundred miles an hour. I feared for my family’s safety.
Then, as I was pushed out the door, I saw it: Enormous crimson flames licking the diamond-studded sky. They curled and slithered through the air, high above the house. I heard cracks, pops and shouts echoing across dirt roads and over emerald lawns. Thick, dark plumes of smoke billowed from the fire, scratching at my eyes and puncturing my lungs. The intense heat swarmed around my body, sharp against my skin, like the sun had fallen from the sky.
As I looked around, I felt relief, sympathy and more fear. Our house was fine. But directly across the street, our neighbor’s house was swallowed by a gigantic fire.
The rest of my family stood gathered on our driveway, stunned by the scene in front of us. My Mom had called 911 but no fire trucks had arrived yet.
I stared across the street at the devouring flames and tunnels of black smoke. I felt horrible for the locals who just lost their home. I heard more shouts and that’s when I noticed a lone man attempting to tame the fire that engulfed his house. Next to the flames, he looked as tiny as an ant, but he refused to back down, aiming a small hose at the fire. The small stream of water did no good, but I guess it’s not easy to give up on your home.
Eventually, the fire trucks arrived, the fire was extinguished and my Mom sent us back to bed. As I drifted to sleep, I saw bright red flames dance across my eyelids…
The next morning I woke up late, feeling rested. I got dressed and headed into the kitchen for breakfast. I could taste the sweet breeze drifting in through the open windows, the sound of the ocean filling my ears. Sunlight dove between the palm trees, falling across our backyard, sand and ocean a mere ten feet away from me.
My Mom and Aunt were already awake, still discussing the fire.
“Did you see the house?” Mom asked me. “There’s nothing left. It’s so sad.”
“So what happened?” I asked.
“I’m not sure,” she answered, shaking her head sympathetically. “I was thinking we could use all the left over food and cook dinner for them. We have a few hours before our flight. It’s the least we can do.”
I started to agree with her. “Wait, does that mean I can’t go parasailing?” I pouted. I’d been waiting for our entire trip, but the only time they could squeeze me in was right before we left.
She shrugged. “I guess you don’t have to help,” she said. “I just thought it’d be nice.”
Suddenly, I thought of that man, all alone, spraying the small hose at the fire and I felt ashamed. I remembered how afraid I’d been when I thought it was our house on fire and I knew I had to do whatever I could to help them out.
“You’re right,” I told her. “That’s a good idea.”
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