Where's The Fire?
by Sally Quilford
by Sally Quilford
It wasn't exactly a vision. More to do with sound. But someone had the vision. They must have. How else could Steve explain it?
Steve was driving home from his work as a milkman, listening to the radio. That's when he heard it, just after Mika's song about Grace Kelly. Now she was a vision, he thought to himself, only half listening to the news until it mentioned his street. At some point the voice on the radio seemed to change and sounded like ... no. Steve shook is head. It couldn't be.
"There has been a house fire on Prospect View. Three occupants have been taken to hospital. The fire started at six o'clock this morning, and police believe it started in a child's bedroom. Further investigations are under way."
His wife and two children were there. Or maybe they weren't. His foot hit the accelerator, as he sped through the town, past B&Q where they'd just bought a new gas barbecue. Maybe that's what caused it. Had they switched the gas off properly? But the barbecue was in the shed. Past the pizzeria, where they'd had Aislinn's party two days earlier. Past the fire station, which was strangely quiet to say that there was a fire in a nearby street.
But there wasn't. The street was quiet, and Carol and the children were just eating their cornflakes when he rushed in through the back door.
"Where's the fire?" asked Carol.
"On this street apparently," he said, ignoring the irony. "I just heard it on the radio."
"Can't be. We've been up since six and haven't seen a thing. Aislinn's had tummy ache.""
Aislinn nodded and ate another spoonful of cornflakes.
"My tummy burned," said Aislinn.
"She said it was so bad she dreamed it set the street on fire," said Carol. "But she's eating okay."
"The milk is putting my fire out."
Steve laughed and breathed a sigh of relief. He drank in the vision of his family sitting around the breakfast table. Carol with her hair tousled, Aislinn in her Mickey Mouse PJs and Courtney in her high chair, putting cereal everywhere but in her mouth. Things were as they should be.
The following morning, Aislinn stood shivering at the kerb while mummy, daddy and Courtney were taken from the house. A neighbour picked up the five year old and tried to cuddle her.
"They'll be all right, Aislinn. You'll see." Even at such a young age, Aislinn knew that the neighbour was lying. Nothing would ever be all right again.
"I tried to tell daddy," she said.
"Tried to tell him what, darling?"
"The fire in my belly. It came out of my mouth and burnt them. I tried to tell him."