My feet slammed to concrete. Alarms rang in my ears. I saw the circulating red and blue neon lights break the darkness. My heart sank to my gut, shattered to pieces on impact. My legs moved faster. I panted; I choked on my own spit. I did not stop. My mind raced with the numbers and calculations that propelled my feet forward for hours at a time. Run faster, I threatened myself. It takes you 12 minutes to run from your house to her house but she only has 11 minutes to ignition, I scolded myself. Save her, I begged myself. I sprinted, and, every time, I only found the scorched, lonely frame of a house she doesn’t live in anymore. It was silent. It was midnight. I was too late, just like every night before. Usually I moved slower, dropped my shoulders and scuffed my toes against the sidewalk, sulked back to my own home, crawled into bed and fell asleep while my senses were still numb to the memory of it all, still numb to the firemen’s handshakes and the newsmen’s probing inquisitions and the slumped arch of my father’s back as he accepted the destruction to his childhood home. Instead, this night, for the first time in all of my months of desperate sprints to the crime scene, I approached the ashes, kicked around at the rotting wood, lifted rubble with no intent. I stood in the location the firemen – the heroes – found my grandmother and tried to imagine the epic power I would have felt if I had known and ran and done something all those weeks ago, tried to feel her there, tried to grasp something that would bring her back to me.
Sat quietly on the charred front porch, illuminated only by the street lights nearby, was an inconspicuous potted garden overflowing with beautifully radiant red bud branches. I will continue to love you endlessly with the strength of the roots you have planted for me was written on a card in familiar script. I placed the card back in its position and strolled home as the sun rose. The warmth of the approaching spring months glowed on my skin. I heard the cardinals begin to sing softly in the swaying breeze.