Read a Book, Save a Life

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?

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35 thoughts on “Read a Book, Save a Life

      • About twenty years ago, a girl went missing in my small Nevada town. Search and rescue looked everywhere for weeks. A lady from Washington called a friend of mine who she had never met before.

        She had never been to Elko, NV in her life. She had a dream and told Chris where to look. He found her; she’d drowned in the Humboldt River. True story.

      • Wow! That’s awesome! I love stories like that. I absolutely believe there are true psychics, though I think the majority that claim to be are liars. But they are out there. I love when they can help solve crimes. 🙂

  1. ‘Fatty’ Sims, a solicitor I knew years ago fell asleep pissed as a rat having forgotten to eat the baked beans he’d left in a saucepan heating up on the gas ring……his house including him burnt down!

    • Exactly! When Rita had daughters, one of them particularly loved to read, too, and she always hated to get on to her when the daughter stayed up past her bedtime reading because of what happened to her when she was little.

  2. My house burned down in Jan. 1978, I still miss some of things I lost in that fire – childhood and teenage memories. But, thank goodness – no one was hurt.

      • 😀
        I’m kind of stuck on “Colorblind” now. I’m hoping to just write past the block, but it’s tough when I don’t really know what is supposed to be going on.

      • Usually when I get stuck, I take a breather and when I’m in the middle of trying to focus on something else that I really want to do (such as go to the movies and see one I’ve been dying to see) that’s when my brain kicks in and all I can think about is what need to be written next, and it’s nice, yet it frustrates me because I paid money to see the movie and my brain won’t let me just relax and enjoy it. LOL!

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