Monday, 4 August 2008
And just as soon as Christmas had begun for the town, so it ended.
After Christmas ended there were screams and running and buildings collapsing. I walked out into the street and smelt the burning and saw the blood running down the camber of the street to fill drains and gulleys.
A flash had started life somewhere inside a supermarket and I saw it grow in a split-second to cover the delicate blue of the tree.
And then came the noise; an almighty cataclysm that rattled my windows and rocked the foundations of the house, like when the earthquake hit the summer before last.
After the explosion, the town was in tatters. The brief idea of Christmas had seemed to be holding it all together, keeping the town alive. Then, in a swift blast and a huge fireball, the scene was ruined forever.
I heard an old man on the corner of the street saying he’d never be able to remember what the street used to look like. This scorched shell of a street was the only way he’d ever recall it now, in his mind’s eye.
But I walked across the road, to where the Christmas tree lay on its side. Somehow, despite every streetlight in the town having died after the blast, the wintry blue bulbs that threaded their way around the body of the fir tree still shone bright.
Perhaps they were like stars that, to us, appear to shine on long after they’ve exploded and died?
Whatever, I stood there just gazing at the tree and, before too long, the crowds that had gathered to inspect the carnage in the street began to troop across and stood in a circle around the tree.
We all just stood there in silence pondering what we were looking at, thinking about just what a small miracle was and would we know if we ever saw one.