I remembered this story from Jorge Bucay recently and I was willing to have it here if I decide to recall it again at some time, because it was not easy to find it on the Internet 😀
THE KIDS WERE ALONE
Mum had left early in the morning and left them with Marina, an eighteen year old girl that she used to hire every now and then to take care of them for a few pesos.
Since their father had passed away, times were really harsh, so she couldn’t skip work every time granny was ill or out of town.
When Marina’s boyfriend called to ask if she wanted to go for a drive in his brand new car she didn’t think twice, after all the kids were sleeping as every afternoon and they wouldn’t wake up till five
As soon as she heard the honk she picked up her bag and put down the phone. She was careful locking the bedroom’s door and keeping the key in her pocket, she didn’t want Pancho to wake up and go down the stairs looking for her, after all he was only six and could trip up and hurt himself; besides, should that happen, how would she explain to the mother that the kid had not found her?
It was maybe a short-circuit on the television or in one of the lights of the room, or perhaps a spark from the wood oven, the thing is that when the curtains started to burn the fire quickly reached the wooden stair that lead to the bedrooms.
The baby coughing because of the smoke coming under the door woke him up. Without thinking twice he jumped out of bed and tried to open the door, he struggled with the handle but he couldn’t open it.
Anyway, if he had managed to open the door he and his baby brother would have been devoured by the flames in a few minutes.
Pancho shouted calling Marina, but nobody answered back so he ran to the phone in the room (he knew Mummy’s number) but he wasn’t able to get through.
Pancho realized he had to take his brother out of there. He tried to open the window leading to the cornice but it was impossible for his little hands to open the safety lock and even if he had managed, he still would have to remove the safety barrier that his parents had put in the window.
When the firemen put out the fire the topic of conversation was the same everywhere: how did the kid manage to break the glass and then the barrier with the hanger; how did he manage to carry the baby in the rucksack? How did he manage to walk along the cornice with such a weight and go down the tree? How did he save his brother and his own life?
The old fire chief, a wise man, gave them the answer:
Panchito was alone, there was nobody to tell him he couldn’t.