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  • Writer's pictureLuna


Updated: Oct 9, 2023

I knew I shouldn't have left the toaster plugged in. But I did anyway, and that was one of the worst decisions I could make. Here's how it happened

One Tuesday I was running late for school. My parents had left for work and I had to catch the bus. I still had to eat breakfast and get my lunch ready to go. I was stumbling down the stairs after getting dressed, when I heard a high-pitched bling from my phone. I unlocked it and saw an unread message from my friend Carla.

I won't be at school today. Have the flu.

Carla has been my friend since we were in kindergarten and she hasn't missed a day of school. Her flu must be really bad. When we were in kindergarten she once had strep and came to school with her little backpack on filled with markers and books, ready to start the day.

Ugh. I had to stop getting distracted. I quickly toasted some bread, slapped some peanut butter and jelly on it, and shoved it into my lunchbox. I ate some cereal and carefully placed my homework into my folder, making sure nothing was getting crumpled along the way. I hitched my backpack onto my back and pulled the straps tight. Time for another day.

The bus pulled up to the curb, making a screeching sound. I got on and placed my backpack on the cushioned seat next to me. On this bus, it was two to a seat.

Once I got to school, I opened my locker and took out my books for first-period science. Science was far away, so I rushed to make it to the classroom. I got there just as the bell rang. I settled myself into my seat and started working on a worksheet about space. Suddenly, I felt my watch vibrate. I checked it and saw two unread messages. I knew I wasn't supposed to be texting during school, but the messages seemed urgent.

Carla had written:

I passed by your house on a walk. I smelled something smoking. Is your house okay?

I sucked in a breath, panic gripping me. The toaster! Did I forget to turn it off? The whole house will burn down because of me. Because of me, my mind echoed over and over. The panic clawed at my chest and eyes, threatening tears to fall. I wiped my eyes with the back of my hand and decided I had to get out of the school.

When the bell rang for passing period I hurried to the front doors. Ugh, I reprimanded, the office can see me leaving! I waited until Ms. Michelle, the office person, turned her head to attend to another student. Then I crouched low to the floor.

Dust floated into my eyes and I blinked rapidly. I scooted along the shiny ground, and lightly pushed the door open. Not hard enough. I put some force into it this time. The door swung open and I siezed my chance, the summer sun filling my vision.

I ran home, my feet thumping on the sidewalk, taking swigs of my water. When I rounded the corner onto my street, I ran faster and faster. When I got to the sidewalk in front of my house, I stared up at it. The smell of burning wood made my eyes water. Maybe Carla was right. Maybe I really did start a fire. I turned my head to the ground, the pebbles becoming blurry. Suck it up, Mary.

I walked to the porch and put my hand on the metal doorknob. It was red-hot. I suddenly remembered the first rule the fireman had told me in first grade: never go into a house where the doorknob is hot. But this wasn't any old house. This was my house. I took a deep breath, trying to stop my legs from chickening out and running back to the school. I slowly turned the doorknob, bracing myself for flames to come slithering out, but there was nothing. I smelled smoke though, and advanced through the doorway. I heard the door shut behind me as I sniffed in deeply.

I smelled smoke coming from the kitchen. The toaster. The dreaded toaster. The toaster I left on. The smoky smell got bigger as I headed to the kitchen. As I got nearer, I felt hot blasts whip my hair around. I turned my eyes away from the wind and bent down to the floor, breathing hard.

I crept into the kitchen, scrunching my eyes tight, feeling around the floor. When I got to the middle, I squinted and peered up at the toaster. The toaster was plugged in. My fault, my brain echoed. I lied on the floor, putting my head on my knees, thinking about what a traitor I was. It was a horrible feeling, and I wanted to rip through the doors of my house and never come back. I laid there, feeling bad, for quite a while. Until I felt another blast of hot air.

It felt like it singed the tips of my hair and forced me to scrunch my eyes closed tighter. I opened an eye. I felt another blast, but this time I saw something that made me sit up a little bit straighter. The oven door was wide open. Maybe it wasn't the toaster after all. Maybe it was the oven, left open from when Mom heated up her cassrole for lunch before she left for work. Maybe it wasn't my fault!

I wanted to leap up and run around in circles, but the oven's heat made me feel cornered. I backed up against the wall, willing the oven to stop and turn off. The smoky smell wrapped around my head. I wanted to smell something else, anything else! I had to close the oven door, or the whole house would burn down. But I couldn't without oven mits. The realization hit me hard. The bar gets so hot, almost as hot as the metal inside. Should I take the risk? I asked myself. I gulped down the lump inn my throat. This time, I had to for the sake of my house. I raised my fingers, bracing for the pain, and pushed the metal lightly.

"Owwww!" I screamed, clutching my hand tightly. I crumpled to the floor, my face twisted in pain. I couldn't think. I couldn't move. I couldn't hear anything except for the steady thumping of my heartbeat. I ignored the searing-hot pain that consumed my face. I stayed there for a while, limp and unmoving. When the pain in my hand finally reduced, I reminded myself that my house was burning down. I gulped in air, and sat up.

The air was grayish, and there was a flame growing in the oven. I pushed myself to my feet and staggered to the kitchen sink. I filled a glass with water and walked over to the oven, ready to splash it over the fire that was growing bigger and bigger inside it. I took an unsuspecting step forward, and don't ask me how, but the fire rolled out of the oven and pivoted toward me. I screamed and ran as fast as I could toward the living room, water splashing everywhere.

The fire swallowed up the rug under the dining room table and filled the kitchen. It slithered toward the dining room toward me. I ran down the hallway, where the bedrooms were and went to the farthest corner of the house, away from the fire. If it came here though, there was nowhere else to run. No windows to go out of. I sat here, hearing the crackling sound as the fire swallowed everything in its path. I thought of all the things that were special to me, all gone. Tears fell out of my eyes.

The crackling got louder as the fire came nearer. It was in the doorway now. I screamed help over and over. Sparks shot into the air. I gasped for air. I was crying out loud now. My hair was frazzled. The fire proceeded toward me.

"No," I whispered. "Help!"

I shrunk into the corner. I am going to die. I am going to die. I screamed as loud as I possibly could. My voice broke and I braced for the pain. I took in the last thing I was going to see until I died. I stared at the orange-red fire blooming all around me and cried. I cried and cried and cried, closing my eyes. All of my hope was completely gone. I felt something tugging my arm and paid no attention to it. For all I knew, it was the fire, sucking me into its deadliness. I let it pull me along.

"Get up, get up!" a familiar voice said urgently.

"Carla!" I said, opening my eyes to her hands on my shoulders.

"Come on!" she said, "we have to leave quickly." Hearing this, I quickly stand up. When I saw the flames all around me, I almost fell to the ground again. My knees were wobbly.

"Dodge the fire," Carla said to me. I knew I couldn't do it. One wrong misstep and I would be hurt severely. "It's okay," Carla reminded me, pulling me away from my racing brain. I took a deep breath.

"Okay, I'm ready," I said finally. Carla and I clasped hands and jumped into the little pockets in the fire. My brain was going overdrive. I'm not going to make it. I'm not going to make it. I'm going to misstep. I have to take a break. I stopped for a second, and that was the worst thing to do. Carla launched forward, her arm landing in the fire.

"Ahhhhh!" she screamed, her eyes screwed up. Nononononono. I ran over to her and pulled her up, allowing her to lean on me. I could see her silently crying.

"Get on my back," I commanded her. She allowed me to gently hoist her up. We made our way through the fire together. When we finally made it to the front door, I burst out into the light. I laid Carla on the front lawn and examined her burn. Her skin was peeling and red and brown. I hurried to the hose and splashed some water onto her skin.

"It's going to be okay," I reminded her, "you saved me." She gave a teetering smile up at me. "I am going to call 911," I told Carla.

A few minutes later, 3 fire trucks and an ambulance pulled up onto the curb, wailing loudly. Paramedics and firefighters hurried out of the vehicles. The paramedics rushed over to Carla and the firefighters ran into my house. Carla was put onto a stretcher and brought to the hospital. The fire was doused by hoses. My house was badly damaged but could be repaired.

So that's what happened that Tuesday. I knew I shouldn't have left the toaster plugged in. It scared me and made me feel bad about myself. So much I almost died. Actually, maybe that was the best thing that could've happened. The fact that it could've been my fault pushed me to save my house. And at the end of the day, it made me stronger.


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