Vicarious No More

November 4, 2011

When I live vicariously through someone, it usually involves imagining a pleasurable or adventurous event. Now I’m experiencing the opposite, imagining the terror of friends waking at night in their burning house. That’s terrifying enough, but add to the plot a baby and arson. The couple and their five-month-old son, asleep on the top floor, might have never awoken. The mother, a light sleeper, smelled smoke about 3:30 a.m. She thought she hadn’t turned off the stove. They found the first floor filled with smoke. Someone had ignited the exterior basement door, and the flames had burned through the door and were spreading.

Mom, dad, and son escaped unharmed but I insist on seeing tragic endings. Them trapped and overcome by smoke. Them crashing through their bedroom window and falling into the night. My mind segues to same situation but different setting: my home, my family.

Our friends have installed six smoke detectors. I’ve checked ours. The arsonist is still on the loose. The here and now is not vicarious.

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