I don’t remember what my room looked like. I don’t remember the backyard. I don’t remember being in a swimsuit. I don’t remember being barefoot. I don’t remember what anyone was wearing.
I do remember the shock and terror of watching the flames race over and down the hill.
I do remember white smoke like thick fog settle outside my great grandparents sliding glass windows and my parents growing insistence that they leave despite the news reports on TV reporting on events.
We were stuck in traffic near the train bridge. Melting in the corner of the car while watching my mom dodge burning tree trucks as she ran down the street that was burning on both sides.
A packed car with neighbors and Bert the dog, all silent, looking down into the darkness illuminated as Palm trees lite up like matches and listing to the roar of fire echo off the hills.
Driving out from under the smoke, like a black blanket in the sky, into the bright blue day. How can it be the day? I was sure it was the night.
Staying with Grandma and Grandpa.
Feeling intense concern for a necklace I had borrowed and promised to return.
Visiting the Athletic center and choosing shoes from huge piles of them along with piles of shirts, and pants. It’s a huge auditorium with big mounds of supplies lined up and people everywhere collecting things.
Walking around the ashes, finding the bunny, a mound of melted coins. No necklace. I wall had collapsed onto my room and I could not see under. Everything was melted anyway. Hoping my grandmother forgot about the necklace I promised to take good care of and feeling guilty about it.
Doing special stuff at school with other kids who were in the fire. Writing in my new journal, learning to rhyme, I say that my fish fried and my birds died. Because of the fact that fried and died rhyme and because we only had time to rescue our dog Bert because the house was on fire when we got there.
Housesitting, where the ceilings were tall.
Housesitting, next to my grandparent house.
Housesitting, in an RV.
Living in that three-story house with the half size staircases and fireplace in the living room.
Living in the driveway, a trailer outside while our house was rebuilt.
I don’t remember what the inside of the trailer looked like, or where I slept inside it.
Searching through the yard and collecting nails after the construction workers went home because my mom would give us 1 cent for each nail. Finding the motherload of nails all attached together and trying to get smart about cashing in.
There are no materials to spark memories of before the fire. Some photos relatives saved and shared with us.