4:30 AM. I woke up around 3:30, I think. Too much water before bed. Still half asleep, I almost knocked the cat out of bed when I came back. Poor little beastie. My husband was awake, and told me that my friend Elisabeth had called a little while ago, around 1 o'clock, to say that she had come home to find her apartment building burnt to the ground.

As the news sank in, I started to feel cold. "Is Amber still in New Jersey?" I asked. Amber, Elisabeth's roommate, is also a friend of ours. I thought about it for a few minutes. All of Amber and Elisabeth's stuff, gone. "Where's Ed?" My husband replied, "You thought of him quicker than I did. It took me about fifteen minutes." Ed is (was?) Amber's cat. I feel sick.

The Red Cross is putting Elisabeth up at a nearby hotel. I want to call her, but if she's asleep I don't want to wake her. So I called the fire department instead. Not 911, the fire department. The non-emergency number. The sergeant I spoke to said he didn't know anything about Amber's whereabouts.

I called the local Red Cross office, but it's 4:30 in the morning and they're not answering the phone. If it's an emergency, they say, stay on the line and you'll be connected to an operator. Fuck. I don't know. My body says it's an emergency. My mind says she could still be on the road. It's not unusual for Amber to be awake at this ungodly hour - awake, making a godawful mess in the studio, sipping coffee because it calms her down, smoking cigarettes, reading a book which she'll later leave open on top of the toaster oven...

4:43. I just gave in and called Elisabeth's hotel to see if I could leave her a message. Nobody answered the phone. Not even a machine.


7 AM. Amber is okay. (insert wobbly smile here) We still don't know where Ed is, but Amber is okay.

5 PM. Ed is thoroughly traumatized, but alive. He's currently hiding under a pile of boxes in my studio. Poor beastie.