Burning Question

Originally posted January 15, 2014

Betha pulls herself up shaking off the bonds of sleep. The sounds of the fire alarm mingle with the visions from her dreams.  It isn’t until she hears the shout that she jumps out of bed aware of the reality. She grabs her robe, phone, and purse as she passes them rushing for the door.
Chaos greets her in the hallway. As Betha calmly moves, she talks others into following her toward the exit. She continues checking on people when they reach a safe area. She has always been a person that takes care of things as others are in shock and at a loss of what to do.
Everyone is checked by medical personnel. Betha is one of the last ones. She is satisfied others are safe before she begins to relax. That is when she feels a chill thinking about the young girl she wrapped her robe around. She would check on her later. Glancing at her phone, she thought of the four, no five people that used it to call family. Her purse pulled up close, she was so glad she had learned to have a Mary Poppins bag from her mother. It provided snacks for people needing it. She used the small first aid kit on some minor injuries. She gave the emergency silver blanket to a family. Betha is pulled back to the present as she feels a warm blanket covers her. The medics ask her questions that she answers with thinking.
“You are a hero,” she hears a medic say.
“No. No, I’m not,” Betha responds.
The medic continues, “To many here, you are. Your vitals are basically good, but we are going to take you to the hospital for some test.”
“What? Why? What are you not telling me?”
“You may have lung burn. There are some indications. We don’t want to take chances.”
Betha gives in to the reality of all that has happened. She begins to shake and cry. Her personality trait of handling things during a crisis also carries a breakdown time once it is over. She is at that point so she follows directions letting the medics move her into the ambulance.
“Is there someone you want us to call?”
“No. My family lives too far away and I haven’t been here long enough to know anyone.”
At the hospital, the doctor decides to keep her overnight for observation. She shows a little lung damage and needs oxygen. She is tested and moved to a room. Finally, she falls into a sound sleep.
Hours later, she opens her eyes to a room full of flowers, cards, and gift bags. The nurses have posted a few works of children’s art where they would be the first thing she saw when she opened her eyes. Betha looks for the call button. A nurse and aid walk in before she can locate it.
“I know you have many questions,” Nurse Amy says. “And we will answer them after we do vitals. OK.”
Betha nods. She thinks of what she wants to ask as they check blood pressure, temperature, oxygen level, and listen to her lungs. She doesn’t know where to begin. It is alright, though, because Nurse Amy begins to explain the gifts came from other people in the building and strangers who heard about it through the media. It takes some time for it all to soak in. Then Betha receives the biggest gift of all as her family enters the room. An anonymous stranger paid for planes tickets so they could be with her. Her parents, two little sisters, three older and one younger brother fill the room. That is when she stops asking why and says a little prayer of thankfulness for the kindness of strangers.
She learns that the building was damaged badly, but her room is mostly smoke and water damaged. She has been offered an apartment in one of the same company’s buildings, as all the residents have. What a wonderful place she has chosen to settle.
Dr. Rosen enters the room with jokes about being enough room. Her family steps out of the room with the exception of her parents. It is all good news. Her lungs are recovering quickly. She will be released, but she can’t go take care of things at her apartment yet. She promises and is on her way as soon as the paperwork is complete.
Betha is welcomed to her new apartment with more surprises. Many of her personal belongings have been professionally cleaned. The new location is closer to her job she is due to start in three days.
Knock, knock. Opening the door, she sees many faces from the night of the fire. Looks like all of her neighbors were moved to the same building. Introduction are made. Soon food has arrived from somewhere and everyone is happy to be together.
Betha looks around the room wondering who could possibly be knocking at her door now. She stands face to face with a news crew wanting to interview her. She briefly tells her story. She also tells them to find the person running the halls yelling for everyone to get out. That is the real hero of the story. She may have slept right through without them. They had searched for that person and no one seems to know who the mystery person is. The interview is over.
People begin to leave, as the hour is late. Her family members all find spots to sleep. Betha settles on the couch so her parents can have the bed. Drifting off, she is thinking about the real hero of the story. Who could it be?


Author: Pamela K. Young

I have not only lived many chapters in one life, but many lives in one body. The person I am today is far wiser than the me of young adulthood. My life is like your life with its ebb and flow. We are all connected in some way. I am a wife, mother, and grandmother, but what makes me, well, me is the way I wife, mother, and grandmother. I am a liver transplant survivor. Whatever devastation you have survived, we survived in our individual ways. I create with words and photos. I am a writer and photographer.

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