The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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I interviewed Mike Le at his home office where he could both do his research and have fun with his friends. Valuable certificates and awards were hung on the wall. He was sitting on a white leather arm-chair in front his working desk. He was a chubby, but healthy looking man. Mike was wearing casual business with beige khaki pants, a black polo shirt covered by a black windbreaker. He waved his hands a lot when he got carried away, explaining a difficult concept or an ironic dilemma. He spoke with his legs crossed in a seemingly comfortable sitting position. The scene depicts a ”hot” event which took place when he was 8 years old. A maid (she worked office hours) forgot to put off the lighting candle on the top floor and many combustible materials were stored there, including bookshelf, drapes and curtains. It was the first house he’d ever lived in and lots of his memories and impressions were tied into that very first house.

“BANG!” the noise woke Mike up. He turned his head and looked at the ceiling where he heard a loud thud of wood falling from the above. He sat on his bed with blankets wrapping around him, trying to make sense of what was going on in the middle of the night. Some light snuck into his room through the gap between the white door and wooden floor. Some window fragments were falling from above right outside the window. Mike jumped off the bed and started approaching the entrance. The doorknob was warm. He pulled it slowly and saw the light flickering on the wall. His dad was carrying a bucket of water, skipping and rushing up the stairs. Some of his favorite comics were on fire and free-falling onto the ground floor. Behind the smoke, Mike saw a giant shadow of his dad on the wall, fighting the monstrous flames. Mike was caught in smoke and he coughed constantly. His feet became heavy and shaky. Despite everything, he kept dragging them slowly towards the stairs, looking for his dad. “MIKE!” Mike was startled for a second at his mother’s shout from downstairs. She ran to him in panic. “Are you okay? Did you get hurt?” She did not need a reply. Mike’s red eyes just spoke to her. She carried him into his room and closed the door. She dampened some big towels and plug them to the gap below the door.
“What is going on Mom?” – Mike gasped in his mother's arms.
“The upper floor is on fire, son. Don’t worry, your dad will be fine.” She replied, gently putting Mike on the bed. “Wake your brother up!”
Mike walked to the other bed side, frantically patting his brother on the shoulder while mom was calling the fire department. The silence of the night was taken over by the cracking sounds. Mike looked at his younger brother, who managed to sit and sleep at the same time. Then he looked at her mom who seemed to be paralyzed. Her face darkened. The smoke, it reached his bed.
“CRACK!” Mike’s dad crunched the door and stormed in, “Let’s get out of here.” He carried both his sons on his arm. Mike closed his eyes and hugged his dad’s neck tightly. His mother put the blankets over the whole family’s heads. They quickly moved down stairs and dashed out of the building. Mike rolled up the blanket and took a peek at his beloved home. The rooftop was burning bright in the middle of the winter night. He looked away and held his dad tighter. Dad gave Mike a few pats on his back, gently brought him into sleep.

Home and flames

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2006
Hanoi, Vietnam

I interviewed Mike Le at his home office where he could both do his research and have fun with his friends. Valuable certificates and awards were hung on the wall. He was sitting on a white leather arm-chair in front his working desk. He was a chubby, but healthy looking man. Mike was wearing casual business with beige khaki pants, a black polo shirt covered by a black windbreaker. He waved his hands a lot when he got carried away, explaining a difficult concept or an ironic dilemma. He spoke with his legs crossed in a seemingly comfortable sitting position. The scene depicts a ”hot” event which took place when he was 8 years old. A maid (she worked office hours) forgot to put off the lighting candle on the top floor and many combustible materials were stored there, including bookshelf, drapes and curtains. It was the first house he’d ever lived in and lots of his memories and impressions were tied into that very first house.

Decade: 2000s
Rating:
Recorded by Dat Duong on March 11, 2020
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