Thursday, June 3, 2010

My Hero

Picture it: Downtown Fayetteville, a hot Sunday afternoon. The kiddie race is about to start in the street at the annual Joe Martin Stage Race. The parking lot is roped off for vendor tents and the children’s play zone. My boys were not racing, as one is too young and one hates bikes, so they had the inflatable bounce house all to themselves. Paolo and Luca were hurling themselves around for all they were worth, while I watched at the entrance, cheering them on. Suddenly, I heard something odd: not a noise, but a LACK of noise. Before it dawned on me that the air blower hooked up to the four gigantic inflatables had cut out, the back columns of the bounce house collapsed. Paolo and Luca froze and stared at me in horror as the roof caved in on them. GET OUT, I yelled, BOYS, GET OUT, HURRY. Paolo was closer and managed to army-crawl his way to the entrance, but Luca was no match for the heavy canvas. I watched the tarp come down on him, covering his body until just his tiny hand was visible reaching out for rescue. I grabbed Paolo before he slipped out to safety. PAOLO, YOU’VE GOT TO GO BACK FOR YOUR BROTHER! With no hesitation, Paolo dived back in, grabbed Luca’s hand and pulled him free. I helped them both out onto the pavement, and we stood huddled together, staring in wonder at the puddle of canvas at our feet. A race coordinator sprinted over in full panic and asked, “Is there anyone in there?!” Hugging my boys tighter, I replied, “Not anymore.”

The rest of the day, that brush with disaster was top of Paolo’s mind. He didn’t brag about his own escape, but about how he had saved his brother. He was a hero now, actually, a superhero. If it hadn’t been for him, Luca would have been buried forever. "Just think," Paolo went on, "if I had never been born and Luca was your only son, he never would have gotten out." After assuring Paolo that his bravery was truly astonishing, I reminded him gently that I had been standing RIGHT THERE and would have helped Luca out if we’d been alone. And yet, I know how siblings work. Ten years from now, Paolo will probably still be reminding Luca, “You know, if it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t even be here.”


nic said...

Love this story! I've missed your posts very much and hope all is well down your way. :) BTW- did you ever see Four Christmases with Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn? The movie itself is terrible, however, if I remember correctly what I haven't blocked from memory, she had an incident involving a bounce house as well. It's pretty funny in the movie.

Glad everyone is out of harm's way!

Quattro Stelle said...

Great to hear from you, Nic! All is well, just crazy busy at work and home. I empathized with your post about blogging: loving it, having little time for it, and almost needing it as therapy.

I will put that movie on my must-see list. Thanks for the tip!