Turn on Fox News. What do you see? Is there a bus on fire? Is it on the Golden Gate? Is it a helicopter shot? I remember there being a helicopter but I only had time enough to listen.
I just took one picture, for time and money, and then dropped everything to help the people trapped in cars, in mangled metal. The people on the bus were beyond saving.
In the distance between my bag and the flames, my life wasn’t measured in time. The normal amount of seconds it takes to run twenty or thirty feet, as fast as I ran, is not enough time to imagine grace under pressure, or to fantasise about saving a trapped baby, as I imagined. That distance should only be measured in steps, a concrete number. Sixteen giant strides.
When the flames hit me, a slap of heat, and the fumes from burning rubber blew my nose out, I just stopped and dropped to my knees like…
I woke up maybe twenty steps later to a human torch pirouetting above me because she couldn’t see where she was walking. I woke up to the blast of broken glass propelled across my nose into the river.
Any sacrifice made for the benefit of others would not have been heroic. The two options I had both ended with me retaining my humanity measured in guilt.