“Dad, can I have waffles for breakfast?” Johnathon asked Miraj as he hopped up onto the bar stool of the kitchen island, peering curiously over the stove. Miraj was bustling around, still in his pyjamas, trying to get things together for his sons’ lunches before school, muttering under his breath about how late he was for work.
“I don’t think I have time to make you waffles today, Johnathon,” he told him apologetically. “I’m late for work as it is and I still have to get your lunch and William’s lunch together before the bus comes to pick you up. I can’t drive you to school today. Grab some cereal instead,” he suggested. “What do you want on your sandwich for lunch today? Salami or ham?”
“I don’t like ham… salami, I guess…” Johnathon sighed sadly, pouting with his chin resting in his hands. “I really want waffles, Dad, please? Morgan and Savannah’s waffles aren’t as yummy as yours. You make them all fluffy and put strawberries on top.” His son’s praise coupled with that pleading look that reminded him so much of his late wife crumbled Miraj’s resolve. He could never say no to Johnathon, not when he looked so much like his mother. It was like her ghost was staring back at him sometimes. Oh how he still missed Margaret with all his heart…
“Fine fine, I’ll make waffles. Just one though, I really don’t have time to make a big breakfast today Johnathon, I’m sorry, the hospital’s just swamped right now.”
It happened so quickly that later on, no one would be able to recall exactly how an ordinary school morning turned into such heartbreak and tragedy.
It was Miraj’s shout of surprise followed by Johnathon’s screams for help that alerted the rest of the family that there was something wrong. Savannah ran into the kitchen first, dragging Morgan with her, followed by William with Madeline and Avery close on his heels. They were confronted by a kitchen fire that had quickly gotten out of control and was now creeping its way up Miraj’s pant leg while he shouted and tried to stamp out the flames to no avail.
“Hang on, Miraj, I’ll help you! William, call the fire department!” Savannah leaped into action, taking a fire extinguisher off the wall nearby.
“There is no fire department in this stupid town!” William shouted back at her.
“Dammit!” Savannah cursed as she began trying to douse the flames threatening to devour her father-in-law. “Then call the hospital and tell them to prepare for a burn victim on his way to the ER!”
“Come here, you three. Don’t look, okay? Get yourselves outside and wait there for us,” Morgan gathered up her two children and her younger brother, quickly ushering them out of the kitchen, away from the danger.
“But Mom, Grandpa–” Avery attempted to protest.
“I mean it, Avery! Go! Now!” Morgan insisted. Avery took his crying sister’s hand and pulled her out the front door. Johnathon took one last terrified look at his dad engulfed in flames before he scurried after his niece and nephew.
Morgan looked back at the devastating scene once she was satisfied the children were safe and covered her mouth to stifle a sob. Savannah had extinguished the flames but Miraj was crumpled in a heap on the ground, covered in terrible burns.
“Dad!” William rushed towards him, kneeling down next to him. “He’s breathing!” he announced to his sister and her wife.
“We need to get him to a hospital right now. William, help us carry him,” Morgan choked out through her tears.