The historic terrace house was gone. Firemen unable to extinguish the blaze, the neighbours were all out in the street in their undies, nighties and nothing at all. Desperate to help, a naked man was using his garden hose. Absolutely impotent, it needed more than a strong dose of Viagra. Another was screaming, his hands and feet burnt. They all knew the family. Their kids all went to the local school.
“Anyone get out?” Reporters asked.
“Just one. Wife and kids didn’t make it. Poor bugger.”
“I’d rather be dead, mate.”
“Yeah but sometimes, you don’t get a choice.”
March 16, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write about the idea of “just one.” If all it takes is just one, what is the story? Explore what comes to mind and go where the prompt takes you. Bonus challenge: eat cake while you write, or include cake in your flash.
While this flash is fiction, it is was inspired by a true story.
On Boxing Day 2011, Australian Celebrity Chef Matt Golinski lost his wife and three daughters in a devastating house fire. I doubt there was anyone who heard about his plight who didn’t feel incredible compassion and horror for what he had been through. Love poured out to this man we may or may not have seen on TV but that didn’t matter. We cared. We loved him. It was truly hard to imagine how someone could go through anything much worse. We just didn’t know how anyone could survive the loss of his family plus his own horrific burns…or even if he should. As a teenager, I thought breaking up with someone I’d dated for 6 weeks was anguish. This was off the Richter Scale. I followed his progress for several weeks as he fought against the odds to survive, supported by his medical team.
Here’s a newspaper excerpt about when he woke up:
Speaking at a charity breakfast, Golinski has revealed he struggled to understand why doctors kept him alive.
Seven News reports he had lost 22kg, had 17 operations and survived lung infections and kidney and liver failure before he came to.
“I clearly remember the very first thing when I was able to communicate with my dad… I asked if he wouldn’t mind giving me a mobile phone so I could ring my wife, Rachael,” Golinski said.
“(Dad) didn’t hesitate to tell me that Rachael and my girls had passed away.
“From that moment, I found it pretty impossible to comprehend why those doctors and all the medical staff had bothered to keep me alive…
“I wanted to ask them ‘why on earth would you think that I would want to live now?’
“Before too long, I started to feel more sorry for (dad) than I did for myself because I realised I wasn’t the only one suffering.”
Seven News reports that during his 13-minute speech, Golinski acknowledged the community support he received after the tragedy which he believes kept him alive.
“As I said, I had hit a point where I really didn’t want to live but it was hearing (stories of public support) from my dad, and there was that outpouring of generosity and love that actually got me through that time and made me want to survive,” he said.
Matt Golinski is making a heroic recovery.