The policewoman was walking up the driveway.
Isabel felt like she was caught in a slow motion video.
|"Be Brave Isabel..."|
The police showing up just as she got home from Al-Simhara was definitely disconcerting, but the fireman who pulled up next was even more alarming.
The officer kept her professional face on.
"Are you Isabel Twist? Could you tell me where your Father Simon might have been last night after midnight?"
Isabel tried not to panic.
|"My...my Father, is he alright? He called me last night earlier in the evening but the call cut off... what's going on??"|
The police officer's face creased with concern and gruff anger as she struggled with the information she had to give Isabel.
"You need to come with us immediately to Cinnamon Falls Campground. There's .... there's been an accident and we're not sure if its a crime scene yet or not."
Without even thinking ... Isabel's brave instincts kick in and she starts running up the road towards the campground. The police and fire chief follow her, trying to convince her to get in so they can drive her there, but Isabel's out of her mind right now.
She knows what she'll find when she gets there before she's even made it all the way up the dirt road leading to the campground.
She can see the smoke rising in the early pre-dawn sky.
|The cabin was on fire!!|
She knew, instinctively, that her Dad must be in there...
As she ran past the police car and fire trucks, the officers grabbed her to prevent her from getting any closer and pulled her back to the road.
"Miss, stop! You can't go up there, its too dangerous, the fire .... the building is unstable!"
|"Where's my FATHER?! ..."|
Isabel suddenly felt like a helpless little girl again. Everything was so surreal and unimaginably horrifying.
The sound of a child crying was not Isabel. There was someone more helpless than herself to think about.
It was Nathan. He jumped out of the back of the police car where they had been trying to comfort him and rushed towards his sister.
|"Nate? Where's your Mom, and Dad?|
The police officer told her that Nathan had been sleeping in one of the camp tents outside when the fire had erupted. This had probably saved his life. Others camping at the falls had called 911.
|"Shhh, Nate! It's ok ... It's ok, I'm here!"|
Nathan was completely incoherent and sobbing. Isabel hugged him tightly.
A cracking sound, like wood snapping interrupted them. They rushed towards the billowing cloud of smoke coming from the cabin along with others who had been at the campground and had witnessed the fire.
|Suddenly there was nothing left but a huge cloud of smoke.|
A huge popping sound, followed by a crash so loud it echoed off the sides of the canyon froze everyone in place for a second.
Isabel held onto Nathan by his shirt so he could not run any closer to the collapsing building.
|Children should never have to witness a tragedy.|
Isabel knew her Father, and Nathan's Mother were in there.
|"This can't be happening ..."|
The slow motion video suddenly sped up into fast forward ... everything happened so quickly.
Isabel felt like she was outside her body watching this as a movie playing out in reverse ...
|"There's no way to reach the top floor from outside ... grab the ladders!"|
The firemen had made it into the first floor but could not get upstairs, the fire was blocking the stairs and the cabin was set too far off the road to get the truck close.
|"It's going to fall, we have to get out!"|
Realizing the roof was about to collapse, they had narrowly gotten out, dragging an unconscious man along with them.
Paramedics were just arriving and rushing to aid the man now laying at Nathan's feet. He was in shock and needing medical help too.
Reuben Reid had been revived from smoke inhalation and confirmed that both Simon and Sarah Twist had been inside, upstairs sleeping when the gas stove just installed downstairs had exploded, shooting flames up the chimney and catching the small wood burning stove upstairs on fire. He had tried to get to them, but passed out at the doorway.
The fireman who had come to the house, stood behind Isabel and whispered quietly that he was so sorry, he had not been able to save anyone upstairs when the roof had collapsed.
|Their parents were dead.|
There was no amount of bravery that could help now.
Hours passed before the fire could be put out with only a few remaining hot spots. The cabin had been reduced to nothing more than a shell with smoldering rubble.
|The broken gas line still burned all night ...|
The gas explosion and fire had been so hot, there wasn't much left to identify of the remains. Forensics would be called in and the police set up an investigation crime scene to rule out arson or foul play.
Isabel and Nate had passed out from exhaustion and crying huddled together in one of the camp tents while police and emergency crews worked long into the morning.
There were witnesses to question, and extended family to notify.
Isabel painfully dreamed of the last time she had seen her Dad and Sarah. She was kissing Andy goodbye before her trip and they had been sitting on the deck, holding hands lovingly.
|A dream-like glow of sunset and love.|
But now it was morning - the dream was gone. Isabel stumbled out of the cold tent to find the campground now quiet and mostly deserted. The cops and fire crew were wrapping up their investigation and were heading home, exhausted.
Before Nate woke up, she slipped quietly past the police barricades and stood on the porch of the now blackened shell of the cabin.
|Cold, harsh reality sinks in.|
She knew she had to come to grips with the tragedy quickly because Nathan was going to need her to be strong, he was just a little boy.
Isabel mourned her Father alone, letting her grief wash over her. Letting it out here, where her Dad had died would help her face what had to be done now to help Nathan and to move on.
|"Why Dad... why did you have to go and die on me?!"|
When Nathan wakes up, Isabel allows him to grieve at the cabin as well. She feels this is better than trying to shelter him from the reality of what had happened. He had been there and witnessed the fire too - there was no erasing that memory. He deserved to know the truth and express his pain as Isabel had.
|"I can't believe Mom and Dad are gone!"|
Nathan had lost both of his parents. Isabel was all he had left now.
Isabel promised to keep him safe and never leave him alone. He made her promise again.
|"We'll stick together Nate ... I promise"|
Ch. 2.3 - "Wrapping up loose ends" HERE
I can't even really apologize - that wouldn't be fair. I know it was awful. I didn't really put much stock in the comments when some of you said how hard death and tragedy chapters were to write in your own stories, until I actually decided to write one. I got really wrapped up in making great screenshots - but then when I went to put the dialogue down here, it really did kinda get to me and make me sniffle. I nearly backed out of my plot plans.
Really had to channel my inner CeCe here to stick with my drama plan ... (that's a compliment CeCe, I promise!)
I swear things will turn around and get better quickly after this one !!