Today’s story did not happen to me. In fact, I wasn’t even alive when it happened. But it did happen to a woman I know — a friend of my sister’s actually. And every time I hear this story, I get goosebumps.
Rita* was a little girl who loved to read. She had four younger siblings, and her dad worked out of town a lot, so when he was gone, Rita was expected to help her mom with the housework and the kids.
On this particular day, Rita’s library books were due, and she told her mom she was going to return them after school.
Her mom scowled and said, “Rita, Daddy’s gone, and I need your help. Whatever you do, do not stay at the library! Just return the books and come straight home.”
Rita got out of school at 3:00. Even stopping at the library, she should have been home by no later than 3:30.
By 4:30, Rita’s mom was livid. Normally, when Rita stayed too long, her mom phoned the library and asked the librarian to send her home. If she ever went to go get her, she typically left the other four kids at home, then drove to the library and right back home.
But this day, Rita’s mom was so upset, she decided to load all four kids in the car and go to the library. She planned to cause a scene and embarrass Rita for being so disobedient. That’s exactly what she did, too. She went to the library, unloaded all the kids, marched inside, ignored the signs to be quiet, and chewed Rita out in front of everyone.
Of course, Rita cried, and the librarian tried to get everyone to be quiet. So the family left and headed back home. Only when they turned down their street, their house was not there! Neighbors were all standing outside, and fire trucks had the street blocked off. Rita’s house was on fire!
As it turned out, about five minutes after Mom left, neighbors said the house actually exploded! Firemen said later that the explosion was caused by a gas leak, and if anyone would’ve been in the house, they’d have surely died. After that, Rita never got in trouble for reading again.
(As an interesting side note, Rita later married a man who, when he was a child, he and his family were at the city pool when his house was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. He didn’t even have shoes when he got home and realized nothing was left.)
(*Not her actual name)
Talk to me: Have you ever known anyone whose house burned down? Have you ever been in the wrong place at the right time and found out later it was a good thing you were there?