At three a.m. Lori turned off the movie she was watching and went to bed. As she lied down she smelt fire. It wasn’t tobacco smoke or burning food, this time she knew it was fire. There were no alarms on her floor, something she had exploited for many nights of gratuitous pot smoking, but now it was dangerous. She rolled onto the floor, pressed her ears to the cold tile and heard, faintly, the ringing of a hundred smoke detectors on the levels bellow. She hops up and emptied swiftly her backpack, hearing her small mirror shatter on the floor. She began filling it up in a hurry with her laptop and charger, hard drive, two pairs of socks, underwear, a towel, toothbrush. And that was it. She looked around her room. Was there anything else she considered necessities? Anything else she need for being displaced for a few days? She slipped on her most comfortable jeans and a sturdy light parka. Was there anything else she would save from the fire? She never liked having a tv anyway. She sat on the floor and stared at her bookshelf. What would a copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude cost at the strand? Eight bucks? There weren’t any records that were special. Most sub-par bands with blue seven inches. She could pick up any Beatles’ record again from the shop down the way. If she could take her couch out the window with her she would. If she could take her fridge. She looked at her pairs of shoes. She slipped on her newish black vans. And took a second to find which one she should take as a backup. She couldn’t find one among them that she liked. The smoke smell was getting stronger. She stuffed a pillow in, pushed it down to hide the half of the bag that was still empty, slung it over her shoulder and cascaded though the window, down the fire escape, feeling her feet hit the ground after the last jump, kindly. She walked away, going to her closest friend who lived four avenues westward. If the flames reach her apartment than she’d loose her stuff and if they didn’t she’d move back in once everything settled. She didn’t want to talk to the other residents who congregated out front. She didn’t know any of them. She did know Jeremy who lived next door, the only other person on her floor. They smoked pot together sometime. She ran into him while he was returning home slightly drunk earlier that night, making jokes about fish and trombones. She found out two days later that he suffocated to death on the smoke, still asleep.
5 weeks ago