When I was a kid - this had to be back in the early 90's, but I don't remember exactly what year or exactly how old I was - a house on the street behind my childhood neighborhood burned down. I remember hearing a lot of commotion and going outside with my mom to see what was going on.
As soon as we walked outside, we could smell the smoke. I could see the flames off in the distance, but we were far enough away that we didn't feel any blazing heat. I remember standing there, mesmerized by the fire, filled with a sense of disbelief and awe.
Homes can't burn down, right? They are our safe havens. Home is where we go when we want to get away from the bad things. It was like my mind couldn't quite believe it was real. It was like a scene from a movie and not someone's home, with all of their prized possessions and memories inside.
One thing that I remember very vividly is when the wind shifted and blew smoke and ash in our direction. The falling ash fell in our front yard and it was beautiful to me. It looked like black snow. We all stood there silently, watching it fall.
Thankfully no one was hurt and the house was rebuilt. I don't live far from my old neighborhood and pass that house occasionally. I don't remember what it used to look like before it caught fire, but when I see it with the happy yellow siding, there's a wrongness to it. I can't describe it. It's like... the house is wearing a costume. It's not quite right. It doesn't "match" the other houses on that street.
I don't even remember the cause of the fire, it was so long ago. Maybe a candle left unattended. Or a cigarette. I don't know. But I'll always remember that black snow. Beauty amidst the destruction.
*This post was inspired by the weekly writing prompt from The Figment forum.