By Anabel Loucks, TIWP student at SiTY
The horizon is a red-gray haze that makes me want to run and run until I can’t feel its malevolence anymore. I watch as bits of ash fall through the sky, drifting through the open air hallways. I cough with an inhale of smoky air. My head hurts. I look to the horizon again, the stories of fire drifting through my mind.
“Oh yeah, my cousins are staying at my house. They don’t even know if their home is standing. Probably not…”
“I’m so glad we moved. We’re in a little pocket of safety amid the fires. Ash is falling heavily from the sky like snow, though…”
“There was this guy who went out to water his roof and an ember blew in from the fires. As quick as he was turning around, a bush caught on fire, then his house! Can you believe…”
But I keep turning back to our weekend. It was a beautiful weekend. We drove up to the Sonoma area as part of a surprise weekend for my dad’s fiftieth birthday. It was Friday. We drove to a restaurant, a vineyard and winery with a hotel and other such services. Looking at the restaurant and all the people sitting there, dining, I felt terribly underdressed. But it didn’t matter. Everyone was smiling and laughing, chatting away without a care in the world. The food was delicious and the chairs were comfortable. We smiled, we laughed, we ate, just like everyone else.
The view of the vineyard was gorgeous, with rows of grapevines that were light green and vibrant purple and a dusty brown. The sun was setting over the grapes. The sun’s setting golden glow lit everything up. So we went for a walk outside, amid all the beauty. We talked, we laughed, we joked, we teased. We were but silhouettes against that golden sun falling down to the ground.
Then the sun was set and we looked up. Stars filled the sky with their twinkling mysteries. The whole sky was before us, no too-tall buildings or spreading branches blocking our view. It was just us and the sky. Just us and the beauty of the universe.
And now? It’s all gone. Burned to the ground, ashes and embers standing where we sat but a few days ago. That dusty golden glory is now all black and inimical red. There is nothing left of that beautiful sunset heaven.
It seems impossible. People were there. People were staying there. We were there! It was alive, so grand and vibrant. But now it’s all gone. All of it. Forever and ever.
Ash and embers, charcoal and that black, black death.