My father and I pulled

My father and I pulled in at dusk. Car troubles, weather troubles, we’d barely made it. Got out of the car and heard a beeping sound from inside. Through the window, I could see my grandmother walking slowly across the kitchen. Heading for the telephone I guess. It has to ring a long time for her to make it.

I came inside to the kitchen, started to take off my boots. The beeping was actually coming from the hallway. Smoke alarm?

My grandmother stood in front of the stove, teatowel in hand, toying with a smoky frying pan. Smoke: both burners on her little stove were on full blast. As I watched, her teatowel flopped across one of the burners. Fire seized it as if it were paper. A flash. It went up in an instant.

I ran over and took the flaming towel out of my grandmother’s hand. It twisted on an axis of orange. Flakes of black ash spiralled down to the hardwood floor. I threw the towel in the ancient white sink, blasted it with water until the fire was extinguished.

I went over to the stove and shut it off. I gave my grandmother a hug, my heart pounding in my throat.

My father walked into the kitchen and stamped his feet. “Got any salt we could throw on those steps? It’s some slippery.”