And there she found her son, covered in carbon and blood, soaked to the bone, standing in a charred garage with an inch of water on the floor and smoke in the air.

"What's going on in here?" she asked.

I felt my heart stop cold. I thought for a moment and answered the way any self-respecting kid would answer when caught red-handed in the middle of doing a Really Stupid Thing.

I put the hose behind my back, looked up sweetly and said, "Nothin'."

And I'll never know for sure why – maybe she really believed me, or maybe she decided she really didn't want to know – but my mom said, "Oh, okay," and went back in the house.

I breathed a sigh of relief and turned to look back over the garage. It was a thing of beauty, all shiny and wet and not on fire.

It was as close as I'd ever get to being a fireman. And, I had to admit, I did a damn fine job.

What did you want to be as a kid?


{ special thanks to claire robertson for the illustrations }