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What Would You Grab

Story ID:8112
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Location:Caldwell ID USA
Person:My Wife and I
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Once again, Ginny and I sat on our balcony. When the weather is warm, wherever we
live, our balcony, patio or deck becomes our living room. It’s where we read, chat and
experience life.

“Gin, here comes a train!” I joked. They pass us several times an hour on the double
tracks a hundred feet from our balcony.

She looked up from her book, “Really?”

We laughed.

The train rumbled by. I watched the various cars, curious. I love to see what they
carry: cars, scrap metal, grain and frozen foods. They’re a string of Christmas presents, waiting
to be opened.

The cars rolled down the rails. I went back to my book. After two lines of reading, we
heard crackling, looked up and saw three fires burning. They were about one hundred feet apart
and headed in our direction. A bad brake or axle had thrown sparks into the dry grass between us
and tracks. The warm breeze quickly blew them into a solid wall of flame.

Ginny called 911.

The flames grew closer. They met the plastic fence separating us from the tracks. It
folded into itself in seconds.

“Mike, we need to get out of here.”

I agreed.

We rushed into the apartment. Ginny put our kitten, Callie, in a cat carrier. I picked up
the older cat in my arms and snatched my work laptop from the coffee table. Ginny rushed to our
room and got her passport.

We ran out the door. I placed the older cat in our car. Ginny carried Callie to safety.

We stood in the parking lot, waited for the firemen and watched the fence disappear
in flames.

“Where are they?” Ginny asked.

“I don’t know!” I replied in panic. My head swiveled looking for help. “The fire station
isn’t far away.”

I looked at my car. Our older cat stared out the window at me. I couldn’t hear her, but
I can lip read, “MEOW!”

She was terrified.

“Here they come!” I said. I heard the sirens. We waited with our neighbors, praying
our homes didn’t go up in flames and wondering why we hadn’t purchased rental insurance.

The trucks, sirens wailing, pulled into the parking lot. The firemen rolled out their hoses
and went to work.

“Get back inside your apartments! The burning plastic puts out toxic fumes.” we were

Ginny and I grabbed up the kitties and climbed back up the stairs.

We watched the firemen put out the flames and clean up from our windows. It took
them about an hour to complete their work.

We had seconds to decide what to take out of the apartment.

The kitties came first. They can’t be replaced. Ginny grabbed her passport, which is
hard to replace. I grabbed my work laptop, because it doesn’t belong to me and has some of my
writing on it.

The rest of our stuff is replaceable.

What would you grab?

Michael T. Smith

Here’s a video of the damage. The tall tree is now gone. It's trunk was too heavily damaged.
They cut it down: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chblOs83dVE&feature=plcp