My husband doesn't believe me. My daughter doesn't remember being there. The other witnesses will never admit to it. Everyone will think I am crazy. Still, I know my truth. What to do?
Several months ago, a woman told me she was going to burn down her rented house. Said she'd learned how to do it on YouTube. She knew exactly how many fires occurred in the state during the holidays in 2008 or 2009. She told me this. They had gotten some cats so they would burn in the fire, and people would feel sorry for them.
Her children were in on the plan, but they weren't supposed to tell. She said this was a sweet little town. People would give them everything. They would open their wallets because it was Christmastime. If there was an investigation, they would be long gone, out of town with all the money and all the gifts, before anyone could catch up with them.
The second-grader told me there was not much point in making friends here because they wouldn't be staying long. This wouldn't be their first fire - they'd done it before. The kindergartener said she didn't remember it. The second grader told her she was too young to remember it, but it had happened.
Finally, the woman caught herself. Realized she was talking out loud. She told me no one would believe me if I went to the cops. She said if people wanted to learn about her, they could find her story on the Internet.
I was shocked. I couldn't believe that someone would put the lives of her own children at risk like this. It was too crazy, too far-fetched.
The school year started. I forgot about it. I even forgot that their lease was ending on December 31st.
When the kindergartener told me at a birthday party that the Christmas tree was next to the fireplace I thought "well, maybe they don't have wood for a fire". But I was wrong.
The next night, the fire happened.
I stayed silent for a week. Who will believe me?
The story haunted me when I was alone in my car, which wasn't often. Surely someone wiser than me would see that this was arson. Surely the firefighters know to look for that kind of stuff.
As the days went on, I saw the gifts pouring into the school. I saw families writing checks in the school office.
I saw my own 5-year old telling the story that was the "saddest story she'd ever heard in her life." The poor cat "Spooky" had woken them from the fire and then died.
You know, I'm sure I don't believe that story, and yet everyone else seems to. How do I tell my truth to my own 5-year old? I don't know how.
I finally emailed my story to the police chief anonymously. He emailed back saying he would forward it to the fire chief.
We have a small town. I still have my doubts that anyone will believe it.
Even if they do, it might be too late. It's school vacation now. The woman has the money and all the gifts, and plenty of time to leave town.10 Comments