I’ve always heard that screaming “fire” is the best way to call for help.
I grew up afraid. I slept with a backpack on.
I had a string tied to my bed frame, ready to repel down the brick of my house at the first sign of gray dancing smoke.
My great-grandfather was drunk on his couch when his water heater exploded. The burst shattered all the windows in the house.
Third degree burns covered his arms.
The tattoo of his first love’s name sloughed from his skin.
Next door my mother and her mother slept.
I remember once, my mother frantically running from room to room.
Her nose was tipped upwards like a scent hound.
“Something is burning,” she said.
“Don’t you smell it?”