Angela found herself looking into the concerned face of the EMT. “What the hell?” she sputtered and sat up in the back of the ambulance
“We were a little worried about you,” the paramedic said to her, “Can you tell me your name?”
“Angela Torres, what’s going on?”
“Ms. Torres, we are going to transport you to Dominican for observation.”
“No you’re not, not until you tell me what’s going on.”
“There’s been a fire, Ms. Torres. Your apartment building’s fully engulfed. It looks like you were overcome by smoke but the firefighters pulled you out a couple of minutes ago. Was there anyone else in the apartment with you?”
“No, just me.” She lay back down on the gurney.
That was last night. Today she had been released from the Doctor’s care and had taken a cab back to what had been her home. What had been almost 60 apartments was now nothing more than a pile of ash and charcoal. Surrounded by yellow tape, the entire block had been cordoned off. Fire department personnel picked through the rubble. “Investigators,” she supposed. The smell of smoke and destruction lingered. She thought about that. “What does destruction smell like? It smells like this!”
There were a lot of people standing around. She saw old Mr. Najara standing on the corner looking at the ruins. He looked sad. He had lived in #43 and had always nodded his head and wished her a good day when they passed on the sidewalk or in the parking area. He was a nice man. She headed over to talk with him.
“Ms. Torres,” he addressed her when she approached. “I am so happy to see you. When you left on the ambulance last night I was concerned. Are you OK?”
“I’m fine Señor. Najara. And you?”
“I’m unscathed,” he told her. “But, everything is lost. My photo albums… gone. My reminders of my wife… gone. I fear without the photos of Bella I will soon forget what she looked like. I will lose the memory of her smile.” A tear ran slowly down his cheek disappearing into his mustache. He wiped his hand across his face, trying to regain some composure.
“I don’t think so Señor. I think your Bella will be with you always. You have your memories. The tangibles that you lost are nothing more than stuff.” Angela put her arm around his shoulders and pulled him close.