Dawn woke, like every other day, to the sound of Riley watching Blue’s Clues on Nick Jr. in her bed. Scott had already left for work but made sure their two and a half years old daughter was happy with her sippy cup of milk in Mommy and Daddy’s bed while Dawn continued to sleep for just a few extra minutes.
Dawn could hear Harrison in the baby monitor, breathing rhythmically, still asleep, so she quickly got up, took a shower and got herself ready for the day before helping Riley dress and tending to Harrison, who was now awake and happily jumping in his crib.
The house phone rang as Dawn was changing Harrison and she raced into her bedroom to answer and back towards Harrison’s room.
“Hello?” she answered. “Good morning!” Dawn’s mother greeted from the other end, “How are you?”
“Good! Just getting the kids dressed and heading downstairs for breakfast. Then we need to get ready for Mommy and Me.”
“Excellent! And what project are you planning for class today?”
“Eh. Just finishing up our alphabet pictures and then the usual circle time songs, snack, and free play. I’m hoping it doesn’t rain so we can play outside, but if not, we’ll just use the playroom.”
“Yup. It should be good. Oh! We had a contractor walk though yesterday to put together an estimate for converting the alcove into a nursery. Should have the estimate next week.”
“That’s great, Dawn! How are you feeling?“
“Much better! No more morning sickness. Happy to be at the turning point. Hey, Mom, can I call you later? Harrison’s diaper needs a little more attention than I initially thought.”
“Sure thing, Dawn. Love you.”
“Love you too!”
“Woooo-boy! That is one full diaper, Bud!” Dawn exclaimed as she hung up the phone and changed Harrison. “Dat’s a tinky diapa!” Riley giggled, pointing to her brother and crinkling her nose. “It sure is a stinky diaper! Into the bin it goes!” Dawn laughed as she tossed out the diaper and lifted Harrison, giving him shower of good morning kisses on his delicious cheeks.
“Do the binky toss, Bud!”
Harrison tossed his collection of pacifiers into his crib and toddled down the hallway towards the stairs. Dawn returned to her room and stripped her bed before opening up the safety gate and heading downstairs with the kids for breakfast.
Once the kids were strapped into their seats and eating, she headed to the basement to quickly move the clothes from the washer into the dryer and start the load of sheets. The phone rang upstairs so she ran up the basement steps and into the kitchen.
“Hi, Scott,” she panted to her husband, “What’s up?”
“Just calling to say good morning. You were up late last night. Everything ok?”
“Yeah. I was just talking to Hope and printing out everything for Mommy & Me today.”
“Is Hope stateside? How’s she doing?”
“Yep. She’s in LA for a few days. Flies back on Monday. She’s good. She has exams coming up but I know she’ll nail them. They moved her up to first class!”
“That’s awesome! And are you set for today? Who’s coming?”
“Just the normal crew. I have a few things to do before everyone gets here but I’m pretty set. I’m just ready to be done with this alphabet project so we can move onto more creative projects.”
“Oh! I gotta go. I have a call coming in. I’ll call you later!”
“Ok. Love you! Bye!”
“Love you. Bye.”
“Who is coming today?” she thought and checked the evite RSVPs on her cell phone again. She took a few minutes to mindlessly scroll through Facebook before placing her phone on the dining room table, next to the alphabet craft material she had set out the previous night.
Dawn continued getting the house ready for her friends and their children who came each Friday morning for a little Mommy & Me class Dawn led. She was excited to get back to the weekly sessions after canceling more than a few during the first trimester of her third pregnancy. Fourteen weeks in, and the fog and constant queasiness was finally lifting. She loved the second trimester.
After cleaning up in the kitchen Dawn turned on The Hunchback of Notre Dame for Riley and plopped her on the couch to watch so that she could finish up her chores.
Her final chore was taking out the trash and recycling. As she was heading back up the deck stairs and into the dining room through the sliding glass door, Dawn scooped up Harrison, who had followed her outside onto the deck.
She walked into the living room and placed Harrison on the floor before beginning to remove her sneakers. She was ready with a few minutes to spare.
As Dawn began sliding off her shoes, there was an explosion and everything started moving in slow motion at the speed of light.
Smoke detectors were blaring from everywhere. A hot rush of hot air blasted past her face, blowing the carpet in the living room back. Dawn turned toward the kitchen and continued turning, looking for the phone on the shelves next to the television, knowing she needed to call 911. It wasn’t on the cradle. Smoke and ash were filtering out of the vents that flanked the TV wall. Riley was running towards Dawn, screaming in fear. Harrison, still at her feet, was crying.
She took 4 steps through the kitchen and dining room door frames, grabbed her cell phone, turned around, hoisting both kids into her arms and ran like hell out the front door, slamming into the screen door and banister on the front steps. She didn’t stop until she was on the front yard of her neighbor’s and began dialing 911.
“911. What is your emergency?”
“My house! My house! There was an explosion!” Dawn was incoherently screaming to the operator.
“Okay, Ma’am. You need to calm down. I can’t understand you. You said your house…”
“Yes!” she wailed, taking a deep breath. “There was an explosion. I think there’s a fire. I see smoke. My house!”
“Okay, Ma’am. Are you out of the house? What is your address? I’m sending emergency vehicles there now. Is there somewhere you can go to safely wait?”
Dawn’s neighbor AnaLucia rushed out to help her and the kids, ushering them inside her home as Dawn dialed Scott at work.
“This is Scott.”
“Our house!” Dawn sobbed as she walked toward the kitchen in AnaLucia’s house. Looking out of the window, flames were pouring out of the rafters above their bedroom. “Our house! It’s gone. It’s all gone!”
“I’m coming home,” Scott said.
Dawn watched in shock as the fire trucks and volunteer fire fighters began to arrive. There was a man in jeans and a white t-shirt running down her driveway to the back of the house and back to the front again calling for the hoses. Smoke filled the sky.
Dawn’s phone starting dinging. Texts from her friends starting coming in. “I can’t get to your house. The street is blocked. There must be an emergency near by.”
“It’s my house. My house is the emergency. My house. It’s all gone,” was all she could text back.
She sat down on AnaLucia’s front steps to call her parents. The sirens were so loud, yet mumbled in the background of the noise inside her mind. She didn’t even know what to say. She called Rivka, her best friend. “I know you’re at swimming with Peyton but my house is gone and I don’t know what to do. My house is gone. It’s all gone.”
She walked out and stood on her neighbor’s yard, still holding a shoeless Harrison while AnaLucia held Riley. The neighbors were starting to gather around and watch.
She cried. And stopped. And cried. And stopped. Trying to be brave for the kids. Trying to be ok. Trying to be strong.
The paramedic came to take her blood pressure. It was understandably high. But she was fine. She sustained a large bruise on her arm, probably from running into the banister when she fled the house. But that was it. She and the kids were fine.
An ambulance pulled down the street and Dawn and the kids were escorted inside to wait. AnaLucia asked if Carlos, her husband, could pick up anything for her or the kids. He was already on his way and stopping for diapers and wipes for Harrison. What else did we need?
“Um. No. We’re ok…actually, yes.” Dawn realized that she had nothing. No binkies for Harrison, no sippy cup for Riley. They didn’t even have shoes on. Her wallet, her car keys, the diaper bag. She had nothing.
She glanced out of the rear ambulance window just as her chimney fell on top her car.
It was all gone…