Burning Memories

Emily - Sugar Land, Texas
Entered on April 15, 2009
Age Group: Under 18

As every story that ends bad begins, I was 10 years old, home alone, and terribly bored. It was the summer of 2005, and being so young, I of course was very naïve, always one to try and show how well I could do everything. That morning when I awoke, I had not a clue in my mind that on this day I would do something simple that would forever change me and family’s lives. To be completely honest with you, I really had no intentions of causing trouble. In fact, I had tried to prove just how responsible I could be. I knew my mother would be hosting a business meeting at our house later on that night, so trying to be helpful, I did some last minute chores. I then decided to do the impossible: I decided I would light a candle or two, thinking the only harm may be that it freshen up the house up a little bit. My mom had always told me not to play with fire, yet insanely convinced that everything I did was the right thing to do, I thought what I did well would impress.

The thought of exactly what kind of candles I should use lingered through my mind. I opened up the large, plain white pantry doors, settling on my knees on the cool tile floor, now with a much better view of my choices. Collecting candles for as long as I could remember, my mom had at least 50 different scented candles that I could choose from. Whatever scent you might be craving was sitting right before my young eyes. I settled on 2 Glade brand Cinnamon candles that smelt like no other. Moments later, quietly watching the tiny flame dance before my eyes on my mom’s beautiful new wooden china cabinet, I grinned with great satisfaction, and cheerfully skipped out of the room.

About a half hour later, I heard my mom honking outside. As soon as I heard it, I remembered that I had a doctor’s appointment. I grabbed my small purple purse and quickly ran out the door.

Hours later, my mom and I stopped at Subway to meet up with my siblings and have lunch. I remember every detail, down to exactly what booth we sat at. I remember what beverage I had drunk when I heard my crazy neighbor’s faint voice on the other end of the phone telling my mom what had happened. At that moment, I completely blanked. Not one thought of that candle came to my mind, because it did not matter. I was full of questions, wondering how on earth this could happen. My mom frantically shared with us what she had just learned, which I had already known. We ran to the car, turned on the emergency lights, and sped home.

Thirty minutes later, the very burly, yet kindhearted fire fighter shared with my family that the fire in my house started with a candle. I then remembered what I had done and burst into tears. My family, also very upset, all turned and looked at me. When I caught my breath, I revealed to them what I had just realized; this all was my fault.

I can not remember what exactly happened at that moment. I would imagine many long hugs, crying, and apologies from me to them. My family kept assuring me that it was not my fault, that accidents happen, but I still felt horrible. I definitely did not feel any better when they let us walk through the house, and I saw that about 2 walls downstairs were almost completely in ashes.

That night had been long and very sad. Since we could no longer stay in our house, we had to live somewhere else for at least 6 months. We stayed in 3 different hotels and 1 rental house before we finally settled into a small 3 bedroom apartment not too far from home. In those difficult couple of months, my family and I grew closer than ever and they were not at all angry or disappointed in me. I realized that my family would be there for me unconditionally, and although I had not thought of it before, I knew I would do the exact same for any one of them.

Since that day, I never leave the house without unplugging everything, or blowing everything out. Everyone else in my family is now the very carefully the same way. Even through the hard times, I can proudly say that not only did this tragedy effect me but also taught my family a lesson. We all learned the importance of being careful. Thankfully, we got the opportunity to redecorate our house and I think it looks awesome. Usually you do not get anything good out of making stupid mistakes, but I guess I am one of the few who can proudly say I did.

This I believe in understanding. I believe in family, love, happiness, and forgiveness. I believe that no matter how bad someone may mess up, someone out there loves them and will forgive them, and most importantly, understand. I believe everyone out there can forgive and understand, you just have to love a little.