You stood there watching the blazing inferno, silently grateful that this was not your house burning. And then you realized you were alone in the cold air, wishing you'd taken a moment to at least snatch your coat from its hook. Janie was rushing toward her house, screaming for her husband.
"Janie, come back!" you shouted.
She kept running. You ran after her all too aware that your socks were not helping your feet stay warm in the snow. Why did it have to snow last night? you wondered. You grabbed Janie's arm just as she reached her porch steps.
"Stop, Janie," you said, struggling to catch your breath. "We can't go in there, it's too dangerous."
"But Ralph, he's in there, maybe he can't get out!" she said, hysterical.
You pulled your cell phone out of your pocket and dialed 911. When the operator answered, you didn't even wait for him to ask the nature of the emergency.
"I need a fire truck, right away," you said as calmly as you could. "My neighbour's house is on fire, and her husband may be trapped inside."
You gave the dispatcher your name and Janie address, and he assured you help was on the way. You stood there for what felt like an eternity beside Janie in the frigid air before you finally heard sirens. Fire trucks and ambulances came racing up the street, screeching to a halt in front of Janie's house.
"Please-- Ralph, please find my husband!" she screamed at the first fireman to emerge from the nearest truck.
He nodded, grabbed something off of his truck and headed toward the blazing house, closely followed by three other firefighters.