It was a normal Saturday morning. I woke up, ran down the stairs, grabbed a bowl of cereal, sat my butt down in front of our big console TV, and started watching Looney Tunes. I loved Looney Tunes when I was little. After I had eaten, my mom told me I had to take a shower. Like always, I goofed off until she yelled at me to get my butt upstairs and into the shower. There I went up the stairs, hanging my head because I wasn’t done watching cartoons.
I started the shower and jumped on in. Being the lil’ girl I was, I started playing around in the shower. I was a mermaid running from the evil shark that was trying to eat me. Of course, here comes Mom, “Stop that horseplay and clean up, we have things to do today!” I cleaned up and got out. As soon as I was in my bedroom, I realized that I didn’t have my favorite pants in the drawers. They were cool pants; Pepe la Pew was on the pocket, go figure. I wrapped myself in my towel and ran down the stairs through the living room and to the dreaded basement door. I stood there at the top of the stairs, not really wanting to go down. But I was on a mission; I needed my favorite pants. If Mom was dragging me around with her today, I wanted those pants.
I turned the light on and made my way down the steps. As I turned the corner, the lightbulb flickered and went out. Scared, I high-tailed it up the stairs. “What to do, what to do …” I stood there saying to myself. Standing there in the kitchen trying to figure out how to get the gosh-darn pants, out of the corner of my eye I spotted a box of birthday candles. “That’s it!” I will use a candle to light my way down those stairs.
I lit the candle and slowly ventured down the noisy steps. With each step I took, the step would make a noise and I would jump. Finally, I reached the bottom. At the bottom of the steps was a window with old dry curtains. What came over me after that I could not tell you, but I had stretched my arm out and held the candle to the curtains. Like I said, they were old and dry. The candle lit the corner of the curtains. I stood there and stared at the flames, watching them burn up those hideous curtains. I snapped out of it. Took my towel off and put the little fire I had started out.
I went into the laundry area of the basement, threw my towel on the floor, and started rummaging through the clothes looking for my pants. I must have been in there, what seemed like forever, trying to find my Pepe la Pew pants. As I was throwing the clothes left and right, a weird smell hit me all of a sudden. I walked out of the laundry area and lo and behold, a third of the basement ceiling was on fire. I guess I didn’t put the little fire out as well as I had thought. The room was filled with thick, black smoke. The flames were huge. I ran into the laundry room (mind you I am naked), and grab a garbage pail. Dumped out the garbage onto all the clean clothes I just threw all over the floor. Tossed that pail into the sink and filled it with water. I left the water running, ran out, and with all my might, tossed the water into the flames. By the time, I ran back and filled the bucket up again, the flames had seemed to spread across the ceiling. I started to cry and became overwhelmed with panic as I stood naked as a jaybird watching the basement go up in flames. Through the tears and fear inside of me, I ran frantically back and forth from the laundry area to the other room trying to put out the fire I had caused. Finally, the fire was out.
Crying and covered in soot, I grab my towel out from under the pile of clothes and wrapped myself up. I started my way up the stairs, crying and knowing I had to tell my mom what had happened. That made me cry even harder. As I turned the corner to go up the three steps to the kitchen, there stood my great-grandfather. He was yelling at me “Why in the hell are you covered in soot and why do you smell like smoke?” He stood there looking at me—by then the smell had gone through the house and here came my mom and stepdad. They were very angry. My stepdad ran down the stairs and then ran back up. I could tell by the look in his eyes, this wasn’t going to be good. Everyone started yelling at me. The only thing I could really do at this point was cry my lil’ head off. Then all of a sudden, my mom pipes up with “Well, at least she was smart enough to put out the fire before she came upstairs.” After my wonderful mom said that, it seemed that everything had calmed down for the moment.
Mom picked me up and carried me up to the bathroom. I jumped in the shower again to wash off the soot. I ran into my room to get dressed. This time I just grabbed whatever I had in my drawers, thinking to myself, I am not going into the basement ever again. As I was dressing, Mom walked into the room and tossed my favorite pants onto my bed. I looked up at her and smiled. It was like she knew what I was looking for.
That night, my stepdad sat down next to me and asked what was I thinking when I lit the curtains on fire. I sat there matter-of-factly, and said, “I don’t know!” The tears stared rolling again.
After that day, I would run and cry at every birthday party I went to, when they would bring out the birthday cakes with the candles lit on them. I knew then this was not funny. Sitting here as an adult, I like to look back at that and laugh. Because I still do not know what the heck came over me to light that dry old curtain on fire.