I watched my neighbor's house burn today.
I smelled smoke and ran outside, phone in hand, ready to dial 911 but the sound of sirens reached me a moment later.
I thought of those that live in that old stone house - we see Bill everyday, walking around the neighborhood with his little dog, carrying a cup of coffee and chatting with neighbors. There's Bill and Bonnie, we'd say, making sure to wave as he passed by. Bonnie would run after a squirrel and Bill would wait patiently, continuing on only after he was certain the chase was over. Bill is said to be married, but we've never seen his wife. We hear she's very ill.
Oh no, I thought, are they in there? Do I run up to the house and pound on the door? If I did, would they hear me? No, I couldn't. Shouldn't. There was just too much smoke. I felt helpless. Nothing to do except shiver in the rain, stunned and shaken as thick black smoke billowed out of the house, further darkening an already gloomy day. All the prayer I could manage as the fire trucks arrived was a whispered, "Oh God."
As the hoses filled with water and the firemen began breaking windows, flames engulfed the roof. A home, a life, destroyed - I couldn't watch anymore.
We're still waiting for news.