Saturday, October 11, 2008

Northern Lights, Down in Flames (Part II)

A couple of years later, it was time to start going to school. I attended North Star Elementary, and from the very beginning, I loved school. Those hours of Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers, being read to and taught by my mother, had prepared me well.

In mid-December of 1985, things were going about as well as they could for a five-year-old. After all, I was the oldest, going to school. I was a hot-shot, for a Kindergarten kid (weren't we all?). My dad was in Las Vegas, working to earn money for the holiday, but that was okay since he'd be home for Christmas in a week or so. It must have been right after Turtle magazine had arrived in the mail, because I was in the bedroom of my parents, away from my pesky siblings, to read my favorite magazine.

And then I heard my mother scream my name like I'd never heard her scream. And again. I'd never heard her say my name quite like that before.

So I peeked out the door, entered the hallway.

In a flash, I saw the smoke and my mother, her eyes wild, literally dragging my two siblings by a tangle of hair and arms.

Before I knew what had happened, she had dragged me, too, and we were outside, across the street, watching our little yellow house being lapped up by smoke and flames. Hours later, when I finally emerged from the daze, I realized that the only thing I had escaped with was my clutched Turtle magazine.

The newspaper, Anchorage Daily News printed a photo of the rubble along with a small caption reporting that firefighters had taken over 45 minutes to arrive on the scene, by which time the house was a total loss. It also noted that a woman and three children had escaped unharmed, and that two pet cats didn't make it.

Fuzzy and Punky died in the fire.


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