If you think that something may be helping you along life’s journey and that they may even have a name you would be right.

The Paperback Edition…

I ran over to my bed and dropped to my knees.  I started pulling out all the under-the-bed bins I used for storage…calling Emma’s name…but only hearing the deafening and increasingly irritating blare of the fire alarm.

Tears were streaming down my cheeks…my heart felt like it was literally breaking.

I sobbed, “Dammit Emma, where are you?  I’m not leaving you!   You’re my best friend, Emma!!   You’re my…my only friend.”

Oh God, I thought…where in the holy hell is she???

I laid full out on my stomach so I could reach farther under my bed and then suddenly I felt that soft fur, so familiar to my touch, and I grabbed a bunch of it and held on tight.  I scooted backwards and dragged Emma out from under the bed.

Her little blue eyes popped open and she looked at me and coughed.

“Did you burn dinner again, Tobey?”

“C’mon you little rascal, we’re blowing this pop stand.”

I sat up and put Emma under my tee-shirt and tucked it into my sleep pants and then pulled the drawstring tight underneath her.

I was only taking little breaths but they all felt like pure  smoke.  The only light in the room was from my laptop on my desk…thank God for battery mode….

With my left hand firmly under Emma, I pulled up the window blinds, climbed up on my desk chair and then onto my desk.  Crouching low, I slid open the window and cold, fresh air rushed in.

I took a couple of deep breaths, backed up to the edge of my desk and then I ran…head and right shoulder down… full force through the screen!

There was so little resistance…I flew through the air!   My butt landed with a smack on a snow-covered bush.

I looked up and there was Fred…shimmering on a snowbank…about three feet away.

“Well…I see you two made it.”

The Paperback Edition…

“What the hell were you doing?”  I shouted at Fred as I struggled to stand up.

“Were you going to let us almost die and then perform some kind of ‘guardian angel’ magic crap and save us?  Was this some kind of cockamamie plan of yours?”

“Well…actually miss,” said a deep voice from behind me.  I turned around and found myself looking up at a very tall fireman holding a blanket.

“As I came down your hall, I heard someone…I guess that was you…screaming from your apartment.  I thought  someone was looking for a child or…” he paused and looked down and saw Emma’s head pop out of my tee-shirt.

“Then I saw you go flying out the window.”

“So, no…that wasn’t my cockamamie plan.  Are you and your… cat okay?”  He tried to put the blanket around the two of us.

I was starting to get really cold and shaky .

I managed to free one hand and brushed the tears from my eyes and looked up again at this tall man.

He was smiling at me and he was pretty cute.  (Hey…it’s going to take more than a fire and a near death experience to stop me from appreciating a good-looking man…)

Married, I bet.  Two kids.  A dog, of course.  And his loving mother probably lives with them.  All one big happy family.  Rats.

“I’m fine…now.” I said…a little too briskly, perhaps.  “Thank you very much.  Is the fire out?” I asked, trying to sound a little more normal…and less filled with rage.

“Yes.  It started in the dryer right above your unit.  The resident had left the building to go to work, so it went unnoticed for quite a while.”

“The other tenants are meeting in the lobby right now.  I think management will have some kind of plan or announcement.  They usually do in cases like this.” he said helpfully.

“Well…thanks again,” I said and I started to turn and walk toward the pine tree where I had last seen Fred wavering earlier.

“Oh here…” said the fireman.  “I grabbed these for you.  I hope they’re yours.  They were sitting right by your front door.”  He held out my UGG boots to me.

“I figured you might need them after I saw you jump out the window into the snow.”

I walked back to him and without even thinking twice, I just leaned against him and kicked off my wet slippers and put on my boots.

“Well, I better……” I started to talk but the horror of the night suddenly sunk  in and no more words would come.

Fresh tears started to stream down my cheeks and I turned quickly away and headed off to find Fred…hugging Emma’s little warm body as I walked.

“Why can’t they shut that damn horn off!” I yelled to nobody in particular.

And then somebody did.   Suddenly it was so quiet I could hear my heart beat.

“FRED!!  Where the hell are you?”  I yelled loudly.

And then from behind, I felt a slight touch on my shoulder.  Finally!!!!

I whirled around, ready to give Fred a taste of my full fury…many brilliant swear word combinations forming in my brain…

“Actually, miss,” said my helpful fireman in a quiet and soothing voice, “I’m right here.”

And he pointed to his name badge.

It was hard to read since my eyes were so blurry from crying.  I squinted but I couldn’t make it out.  I looked up at him with a puzzled expression on my face.

“What?”  I asked.

“That’s me…my name is Fred.”

“I don’t have a dog but I do have two cats.  I’m single…my mother lives in Paris…and I have absolutely no idea why I’m telling you all this…”

Epilogue:

And here’s the ‘partly true’ part that I referred to in the beginning:

One night about 15 years ago I did wake up unexpectedly and as I was rolling over I saw a “black ribbon, shimmering in the corner.”

I looked at it for a few minutes…and felt no fear at all.  But I did know I wasn’t dreaming or ‘half-asleep’.  I remember smiling and then I went back to sleep.

When I woke up the next morning I realized I had seen one of my guardian angels by mistake…it doesn’t happen often…but it does happen.  You can Google it.

This has happened about 3 more times since then…

THE END