Like fire on a house I

HouseFireThe reason my father’s eyebrows were singed that morning, he told me, was because he and a friend had rescued a man from a burning building the night before.

He’d said it so calmly it took me a moment to hear it. He’d saved a man’s life.

What did this mean for me?

Suddenly, my empty breakfast bowl became filled with wonder. The day unravelled before me like a sacred scroll. All who saw me would become blinded by my second-hand glory. I wondered if the lucky ones might even touch the hem of my hand-me-down garment and be healed…

My father had saved a man’s life.

Sunlight crowned his head with gold as Dad recounted the night’s events in measured tones: The man had been drinking. He had fallen asleep with a lit cigarette. He had kept trying to go back inside to find his dog…

There must have been firetrucks. And ambulances. Sirens, probably. I couldn’t believe I slept through it all; couldn’t believe they let me sleep through it!

I couldn’t believe my dad had done that. And he was still eating Weeties like he always did, just with shorter eyebrows.

Today, on the way home from work, unit number 31 was on fire. There was nobody inside, so I knocked on the door of the man at number 32.

Sitting on the footpath as the firetrucks arrived, he told me he had been partway through The Lion King when I saved his life.

I was pretty sure the setting sun was crowning my head with gold, but I don’t think he noticed.

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~ by Daniel Townsend on March 18, 2013.

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