The human torch visits the library

This happened when I was about 15. Every year in December I remember and give thanks that no harm came of it.
We lived a short way from the municipal library and I would go on regular excursions to get something to read. This particular December day was cold and snowy and I put on my brand new warm pink sweater (this was in the 1980s and bright pink was THE colour) and my ugly but warm wool-lined winter coat. I had no idea at the time, but that coat would save me from much harm. Once at the library, I started browsing the shelves. The library is housed in a small room in the basement of the community centre and all the space is used to the fullest, meaning narrow and cramped aisles.
I went up to the shelves next to the librarian to browse and hardly noticed the Christmas decoration she had put on her desk, complete with lit candle. Then I walked over to the display of new books. Suddenly I felt very hot, so I took my coat off, only to discover that the back was on fire. I had obviously stood too close to the Christmas decoration on the librarian’s desk.
I am not the kind who panics easily, so I just held the jacket at arm’s length and calmly – almost serenely - walked out of the room and into the public toilets down the hall and extinguished the flames in the sink. The librarian, who had only noticed the fire at the same time I did, came running after me, pale as death.
I never went into shock because I was too upset about the huge burn hole in my warm, cosy jacket, the melted black spot on my beautiful acrylic sweater and my singed hair, but the librarian had a small breakdown.

Afterwards, I wondered about a few things:
a) what kind of person does not notice someone walking around with their clothes on fire, and the smell of burning wool in the air? Probably the same kind who does not notice her clothes are burning, i.e. a browsing bibliophile.
b) why didn’t the jacket go up in a blaze? I asked my mother, who told me that as well as being warm and insulating, wool also burns badly. It doesn’t really go up in flames, but smoulders. The insulating properties are probably the reason I didn’t feel hot until the fire had burned through the wool lining. The fire was in the cotton part of the jacket, not the wool itself.
c) do I have a guardian, an angel or a spirit? It is a blessing that I didn’t get badly burned or set the library on fire by walking too close to a shelf full of books.


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