The fire marshall walked through the debris, kicking his boots through ash, thick on the bottom of the dwelling that once was. He shook his head sadly. Someone's home, the memories that remained like soft flour on a squelched floor. The truck had arrived, 4:00 am, after the 911 call was sent, flames pouring into the blackness of the night, while the nearby community slept unaware. 14 kids got safely outside, a missing cat, probably escaped into one of the maple trees, the girl had gone looking and calling with no luck. Parents had been away, a romantic escape weekend, leaving the two teens, Alicia and her young brother alone. They decided to invite a few friends, then a few more show up and boom, it's unsupervised teen party time. Until now, when something bad happens, regrettably terrible like a house fire, nothing remaining but embers.
"OK mom, don't worry, we will be fine, go and have fun with daddy." Alicia promised them, as her parents were getting ready to pack.
"No friends, keep an eye on your brother, do not use the stove, order a pizza tomorrow night." Her mom, Gina left her some cash on the kitchen counter.
"You call your aunt Doris too if you need anything." Pop said, this was the first time they left the kids alone in the house for a whole weekend. It was Friday late afternoon. He had wrapped up his work and after weeks of discussion and planning he was taking his wife to the ocean, a beach house for some quiet time alone with her.
"Bye mom, see ya pop." Joey gave his dad a big hug. He was growing so fast, ten years old. Luckily they knew the kids were good. They didnt hang out and do drugs like some of the other brats did at school. Pop was proud. Of both of his gems, he sure was lucky, he thought. And now, here they were, leaving them alone for the first time to go romancing for the weekend. What could go wrong? He shook the little voice, perpetrating more loudly in his head as he started the ignition.
"Hello Diana? Yea, come on down, we got the whole house to ourselves, bring Celine too." Alicia texted her friend.
"Oke dokey, see ya soon." her friend answered back right away with a happy face.
"Mom said no friends, we are going to get into trouble." Joey was right beside her listening to the whole converse.
"Dont you dare tell her, she won't know anything, we will be clean and have pizza, that's it. We can watch Netflix." Alicia sternly spoke,
"Come on, we never get to be alone here EVERRR", she pleaded his silence.
"It might cost you." Joey suggested, rubbing his chin so manly and mature like. The gesture amused his sister.
"$20 sound fair enough?" And he agreed.
8 pm, Saturday, the doorbell rang.
"Hey girl, good to see you." Alicia cheek kissed her best friend Celine, full makeup, dressed up, bearing a stolen bottle of wine from her parents cellar.
"Look what I brought", she showed her the goods and pulled out some weed.
"No smoking that in this house." Alicia told her sternly. And then the doorbell rang again, and again.
"Like, who all did you invite?" Alicia asked Celine.
"Nobody, just Cheryl, and Jackie, I guess they invited a few of the other kids, some of the boys came with them. Before Alicia knew what was happening, there were a lot more kids in the house than she had wanted, anticipated. They turned on the music, loudly, the drinking started, the smoking started.
"Ok guys, come on out, this is getting carried away. I will get in a lot of trouble." Alicia started to move the party out now. Some of the kids were kissing on the sofa, garbage everywhere, junk food bags, pop cans, beer, it was a mess.
"Aww, don't be a party pooper." Some boy said saucily looking down at her, his eyes heavy with booze and he smelled of pot.
"Look, I am not allowed to have anyone over, please go NOW." Alicia turned off the music.
"Everybody out of my house." She started pushing, ordering, Joey was upstairs in his room, headphones plugged in and gaming. He didnt hear a thing.
The main big bay window - someone placed an ashtray there, the window was slightly open, a breeze coming in. A cigarette, a breeze, and curtains. Then the fire started. Alicia hadnt smelled the smoke at first, then it flared up, everyone got up and got outside, she went upstairs to get her brother and look for Fuzzy the cat. He was nowhere to be seen. Then she called 911.
"911, what's your emergency?" A woman's voice asked.
"A fire, at my house, my parents are not here please hurry." Alicia gave them the address, the rest of the kids were outside, then the police showed up, the fire trucks.
You make mistakes in life. You can't go back. A moment is gone, you cannot control the fate of life, and then something goes wrong, like this, a house fire, and you lose everything. The fire marshall closed his report, sighing, glad that no one got hurt, the cat could not be found. He was thinking about his own kids, luckily nothing like this had ever happened. He faced the parents, they were pissed. He didnt blame them. Alicia was crying and hugging her brother until they showed up, then she had gone to look for Fluffy.
Hopefully the furry critter had gone to a neighbor or hid up in the big maple above the house safely. Cats had nine lives after all right? They had a way of escaping somewhere fast. Now some of the neighbors showed up, in housecoats and slippers, shaking their heads with pity for this family. Some had brought food and coffee.
You can't change a tragic ending like this, sadly, they will move on with their lives but not with what they had, but with what they will have, each other.