I yelped and dropped the pot of boiling water. It splattered everywhere, sending Alexis for cover. I watched as the flames traveled up the white lace curtains at record speed to the top of the window before common sense whacked me in the head.
Put the fire out, you dummy!
I scrambled backwards out of our tiny kitchen nook and ran into our “living room”, rather the cramped space at the front of our trailer that had a single diner-like bench where all of us usually sat around either playing Go Fish or Life. I leapt up onto the back of it, reached for the fire extinguisher hanging above the door, and pulled the pin before I had even gotten hold of its metal body.
Poor Alexis cowered in the corner beside the radiator, her blanket a pathetic shield against the fire. She poked an eye out and squealed as I dismounted from the bench.
“Lia.” she whimpered.
I froze in my tracks, extinguisher raised in the air. Alexis had just spoken her first word! Her first word hadn't been “mama” or “dada” or “poop” or “owwee”. It had been my name!
I grinned like some maniac clown and shook my head happily. “Good girl, Lexi!” I cried. I smiled down at her for a moment then turned my attention back to the fire. By now it had engulfed the entire window and was leaching onto the ceiling. Carefully, I positioned the nozzle in the air, held my breath in, and pulled the trigger.
A fine mist started raining down on me. It got into my curly hair and started making my skin itch like crazy. After ten seconds, I let the trigger go and dared to look up at the damage. It was definitely noticeable. There was no way of hiding it. The curtains were gone, only the metal rod remained. The vinyl covering the walls had melted, and the ceiling had turned a coal black color.
My big, stupid idea. Now I was probably going to have to forfeit at least two months of allowance to pay for the damage, and mom and dad would probably be too scared to let me babysit again; that is after they had gotten over being angry at me.
Why did I have to be such a screw-up sometimes?
I sat down on the stool beside the stove and tossed the fire extinguisher aside. Alexis appeared from her hiding place and walked up to me, stretching out her arms.
“Again, Lia!” she cried with a wide grin across her face.
I shook my head. “No. No more, Lexi.” I muttered. She had no idea how much trouble I was going to be in.
“Again!” she squealed gleefully.
Maybe it wasn't such a great thing after all that she had started to speak.
Outside, I heard two car doors slam shut. Mom and dad were home. Great.
The second my parents walked it, it was like a bomb had just gone off. Everything got deathly quiet. Even Alexis knew to keep her mouth shut. She went back to her corner with the radiator and hide beneath her blanket.
My mom held both of her hands up to her mouth, gasped, and blinked her eyes repeatedly like she was seeing some ghost from her past.
“What the hell happened here?” My dad asked incredulously. He loosened his grey tie and stepped past the fire extinguisher I had left on the floor.
This was going to be really fun to explain.
“I-I fell asleep.” I lied, kicking myself secretly. That would make them want me to babysit again.
My dad picked up the pot off the stove top and tossed it in the sink. He turned back to me a second later, eyes bugging out, and slapped me across the face.
"What were you thinking?!" He spat in my face.
I grimaced from the pain and bit my lip hard to keep myself form crying.
“I'm sorry.” I said quietly, avoiding eye contact.
“You should be!” he hollered. “You could have burnt down this entire trailer!”
I nodded and reached for the broom that we usually slipped in the two-inch gap between the refrigerator and dishwasher. My lip started quivering, then my eyes let out all of Niagara Falls. My idea sure had worked. If I had learned anything, it was never to try my “trick” at home again.