The widow stepped out of her car and surveyed what was left of their home. Actually, there wasn’t much left of their home, or anyone else’s home in the neighborhood.
The fire had come suddenly that Monday morning a couple of weeks ago. The evacuation order came in the early morning hours, as the flames were coming over the hillsides north of their home. Within seconds, the widow and the others in the neighborhood had fled, just minutes ahead of the fires.
Now, the fires had been put out, and the authorities had let the people back in to salvage what they could.
The widow, along with her son, looked at where the house had stood. There was nothing, nothing but ashes, debris that was all reduced to burned out pieces of what used to be theirs.
It was a house where the widow and her husband lived for so many years, and she continued to live until after he passed sixteen years ago.
The widow cried a little, as her son comforted her in his arms. Gone was the house and its possessions, but not the memories that happened in the time they lived there.
From a distance, a group of kids watched the widow. They didn’t live there in the neighborhood; they lived…..somewhere else.
“So what can we do?” the girl in a blue dress asked.
“What can we do? Nothing,” her brother replied, his blanket in hand.
“There must be something we can do,” the piano prodigy said.
“When I find out, I’ll let the rest of you know,” the round headed kid said.
“That doesn’t make any sense coming from you,” the girl in the blue dress said crabbily.
“It’s not supposed to. None of this does. You live in a house all your life, all of a sudden its gone just like that. You try to make sense of what happened, and it doesn’t.” He paused, then he said, “Maybe it was Santa Rosa’s turn.”
“What do you mean?” the boy with the blanket asked.
“You always hear about the fires happening down around Los Angeles, in Yosemite, the Sierras, around Lake Shasta,” he said. “Maybe it was just Santa Rosa’s turn.” They all looked at the widow. “It just shouldn’t have happened to her,” the round headed kid said.
The widow was now talking to an insurance adjuster, as her son looked through the rubble of what was once, but was no more.
The kids kept watching from a distance when someone said to the kids, “Don’t worry, she’ll be fine.”
The kids looked up. It was him, the one known as Sparky.
“She’ll get through this,” he said. “She’s a tough old lady.”
“I wish there was something we could do,” the boy with the blanket said.
“So do I,” Sparky said. “I miss her as much as she does me.”
“What about the others?” asked the piano player. “The other people here, and where the fires were.”
“They’ll get through it as well,” Sparky said. “This is a resilient little town. They’ll find their way back.”
The kids watched as Sparky walked up to the widow. Of course, she didn’t see him, or know of his presence. He said, most likely whispered, something to her, then came back to the kids.
“C’mon kids,” Sparky said, “let’s go.”
The kids and Sparky turned around and walked away, as the widow, like the rest of that part of Santa Rosa, began to rebuild their lives.