Almost everyone disagreed with the choice to go on living in the house. Their arguments varied from reasonable to absurd: "You might get cold," (on the one hand) or "everyone will see that you're living in a charred shell! how embarrassing!" When his sister offered the *embarrassing* argument, it confirmed their worst suspicions of her.

The unmistakeable thing was that the fire had *not* destroyed so many significant things, that it felt like a Divine Sign that they *should* stay. The rafters and the beams across the living room jutted out from the siding and windows like a skeleton wounded and lonely for the flesh of siding, insulation, drywall, windows and asphalt shingles.

But magnificently, in the middle of this scarred and exposed living room? The piano had been untouched by the fire.

They had friends who still visited and admired the choice to live in a house-less-habitable. It made the whole entire suburban allotment feel more genuine, they posited. The friends ran their fingers across the charred studs along the wall that faced the front lawn, the sidewalks, and the brown split level across the narrow street. "We think it's amazing!" they said.

At night she played the piano and the kids, down the half-burned hall, slipped into a chilly sleep cuddled in blankets given by the Red Cross.

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