Wendy, Mom and I went into the backyard, this time I was barefoot, to wait for the firetrucks. My mother fretted over Wendy's Mom, who hadn't come out of the house, holding a sobbing Wendy to her nightgown, muttering 'it's okay' and various other phrases of comfort. I watched Wendy's backdoor.
Orange flames began licking her back door, dancing just inside. No human emerged. The smoke alarms began screaming obnoxiously inside. The curtains covering the back window lit.
The kitchen windows began glowing and sirens were barely heard in the distance. As they wailed louder, the fire found new things to consume inside and grew. I was rooted to my lawn, watching, entranced.
The fire truck sent waves of firemen to battle the blaze, they chopped inside and began spraying water everywhere. It was futile. The house was completely gutted by fire. A body was found, and the coroner was called. My mother took Wendy inside for tea. I stood dumbly in the kitchen until I was overcome with exhaustion and retired silently to my bed.
I dozed lightly, hearing the voices of men talking to Wendy in the kitchen. Sometime later I drifted off to sleep and dreamed.
Looking up at the burning windows of Wendy's house, I saw her walking up the front porch where the scorched corpse of her mother lay.
"What are you doing," I screamed.
"I have to see," she said, stepping through the door. In my dream, I followed her.
The air was a blast of heat hitting me full in the face; I could feel my eyebrows searing, and I could smell the scent of burning hair.
The fire licked at the walls, smiling at me; welcoming me home.
I waved at it, and I swear it winked at me. A supporting beam cracked.
"You're so beautiful," Wendy said to the flames, and as if to acknowledge the compliment, the fire changed its color from an orange to a vibrant green, blue then red.
She wept openly, facing me. An angel of fire loomed up behind her, wings spread wide. I stared in awe at the beauty of it.
As I felt arms wrap around me, pulling me from the burning house, I kicked and screamed to go back.
I woke yelling and covered in sweat. The sheet had wrapped around me tightly and I struggled to unwrap myself and cool off. I also took off the T-shirt I'd fallen asleep in, because it was drenched. I walked topless down the hall to the bathroom to find it occupied. Annoyed, I ventured toward the kitchen.
Thankfully, it was empty. I sat down, not yet hungry, and stared at the tile floor. There were so many dirty shoe prints there, it would be hard to distinguish mine from last night. This was good, it further hid the fact that I was out there before Wendy came rushing over. I was thinking about the fire in my dream when a voice startled me.
"Whoa, Charlie! Nice pecs!"
I jumped. Wendy! She was still here?! Well, of course she was here, where else could she go?
She toweled her hair dry, dressed in a long shirt of my dad's and some of Mom's old sweats. Somehow she pulled off the look rather well. "You need the bathroom?" she interrupted my thoughts.
"Yeah. Uh, thanks." I was glad she'd stopped that train of thought!
I evaluated myself in the bathroom mirror. My hair was standing up all over, I had soot on my face, and yes, great pecs had developed on my chest. When did those get there?