It’s odd how — in the midst of a disaster — time freezes; each moment engraved unmovingly in granite.
Waves of heat lick my face.
Barely can I keep my eyes open; even if I could, it does no good because the smoke is too thick. The two children trapped with me on the platform are hugging my left leg, too terrified to move; inhibiting my abilities to save us. Sally, the younger one, buries her face in my pant leg, holding Sasha, her dolly, tight against her for protection.
“I’m scared,” she wails over the snapping sounds of fire. “I want my mommy!” With that, she clinches tighter, attempting to climb inside me, hoping to make herself big with my courage.
If she only knew, she wouldn’t even try. Inside, I am sand, not concrete. In front of us, I see Death, a wall of licking flames blocking us from the barn door and the cool safety outside.
Using one arm to try and comfort Jason and Sally, I use my other to hold a towel across my face; fending off suffocation. “We’ll be OK,” I shout at the kids, voice raised to be heard above the crackling inferno. “Help will be here in time.” I pause. “Help is on the way,” I repeat more quietly, more to assure myself than them.
What is taking so freakin’ long? Someone had to have noticed the thick smoke and called 911. Shouldn’t we be able to hear sirens by now?