Still Fires Run Deep
Vida Janulaitis

F ire and water, both can give life or take it away. I travelled for miles to reach the old water tower, now called Water Town. In the end the building turned out to be nothing special but then I had plans. Chicago was a city full of history and of miraculous moments. I walked by the Hitchcock house and tried to find something in common with both buildings. After all they both survived a fire in 1871 that is still talked about today.

This all started with a letter which I still clutch in my hands. It had been passed down generation to generation and until now no one had anything to do with it. It seemed easier that way. Why stir things up? But then I always needed to know things. I always needed to know why?

Im my dad's will, he left me this letter that told of my great grandfather who simply loved too much. Tears streaked down my face while I read of a man racked with guilt. In a barn behind the place where he worked he prepared a romantic evening. He had bought the ring, lit the candles, and poured the champagne. When she showed up he asked the eternal question, "Will you be my wife, will you be my eternal love?"

I can't even imagine the look on his face when she simply shook her head and walked away.

In his letter he said he didn't even remember leaving, didn't remember the candles he left burning.

After walking miles upon miles on a star lit night he found himself in front of the water tower. He glanced at the ring one more time. There were no more tears to shed. In a corner of the tower he dug a hole and buried his feelings of love. He believes that night his fury came to be. As long as he lived he regrets the outcome. Too many lives lost.

I followed the instructions and underneath the rotten wood I uncovered the box. I wondered why no one else tried? The diamond ring was beautiful, the craftsmanship unique. The memories of the Chicago fire 130 years ago made this ring almost burn in my hands.

The truth should finally be told, shouldn't it? People had a right to know. My family knew and never said a word, but I wasn't sure I could keep such secrets.

You may want more from me, but I took that ring and put it back where I found it. When I got back home I visited my lawyer and had my will written, in it I left a letter.

First published: November 2001