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A low, distinct rumble cut through my warm cocoon of reassuring darkness and soft blankets. I jolted up, awake. I shook my husband, John up. I could see the worry; the fear that builds up in his eyes. He opened his mouth to ask what’s wrong, but before the words came out, a harsh jerk of the earth silenced him. Our eyes met. A form of understanding passes through us; an earthquake. Together, we ran to our daughter’s rooms to wake them up, both not daring to leave each other’s side. With my daughter Daisy in my arms, Lily running behind me, with John, Poppy, and Rose close behind, we ran out to the street. All around us, there were hysterical villagers screaming, their faces tinted with raw anxiety and terror. The shaking was jaw-rattling now, it was hard to stand up, let alone run. Confusion mixed with panic whirl in my mind. My heart was beating so fast it hurts, thundering in my rib-cage, waiting to get free. Tears stung my eyes. I couldn’t think straight, I could only clutch Daisy tighter to my chest and pray for everything to be okay.
We ran and we ran, totally forgetting about our car. We passed my shop, my dear, dear shop. It was in ruins: the front banner ripped into pieces, the glass windows shattered like my heart. I saw my favorite sewing machine from my great-grandmother completely destroyed, the intricate designs of a caterpillar, entering its chrysalis, then breaking out into a beautiful, gorgeous, butterfly all into pieces of nothing. I could picture the nights when I was hunched over my sewing machine, creating my dream little by little, piece by piece, stitch by stitch. The nostalgic pain stabs me from within. I feel like I’m drowning in a sea withering with turmoil, each speck of hope flickering away like fire fading to embers and finally, softly, darkly, going cold. Big chunks of agitation block my way when I try to claw out of the never-ending abyss. I reach out for the light that dots the sky. But no matter how hard I try, I’m pulled back into the dark chasm.
I want to let it all out so badly it hurts like a million bees had stung the inside of my body. I want to snuggle in with John, the soft candlelight flickering by our side. I want to tell the story of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” to my lovely daughters, Rose, Lily, Poppy and Daisy safely in my grasp. Suddenly, a building from behind crashes onto my shop. Dust and debris exploded out, like a million pieces of my life, my passion, all broken up, and then falling onto us like rain, drenching us with misery until we’re soaked. I cover Daisy with my body, hug Lily close, and stand by John. I want to cry and cry. The only thing in my mind was to bring those I love to safety; they deserve to be happy, to move on. Rose deserves to go to college and get her Master’s Degree in engineering, then live out her dream to be an engineer. Lily deserves to finish high school and live out her dream to become a cross-country runner; I will not let her put all these years of training behind because of this disaster.
A big crack about 7ft wide appear underneath our feet; we have no choice but to separate on different sides. I look at John, then at Rose and Poppy. Tears well in my eyes as they shout, “We love you, Mommy!” “Don’t cry,” I remember telling myself, “you have to be strong for the family.” I took and deep breath and shouted, “Mommy loves you too!” I glance back at John once, and an invisible link bonds us together. “Don’t worry,” John said, “meet me at the park we used to go to,” “Ok,” I told him, “Be careful,” he added “I love you,” I smiled meekly, “love you too,”. I took a deep breath, “Come on Lily,” I held on to her hand, not daring to let go, and willed myself away from the other half of my family, hoping that everything will be okay.
I arrived at the park John and I used to visit with baby Rose. It was a two-hour drive from our house to the park. The earthquake had stopped, but the traces of disaster were now as clear as ever. Remnants of homes were scattered around like pieces of a mirror, each piece reminding us of the things we lost. I collapsed onto the dirt, exhausted, hugging my dears close to my heart. We lay there for a few hours, thinking of what happened during the day. We were all so traumatized that we forgot we were lying on dirt, we forgot that we are still in our pajamas, barefoot, with dust and sweat coating our skin. I focused on the mountains in the distance. The rocks and slopes were sliced off the mountains like a sculptor getting rid of the extra, unwanted clay. The continuous throb of pain buzzes in my right leg. A big bloody gash 5 inches long, an inch thick was plastered on my knee. I was dizzy, my brain turned into mush. I couldn’t think straight; I was in shock. Earlier today, it was just a normal Sunday morning where everyone got to sleep in, and now? That dream has slowly warped into reality. I guess Lily was in extreme pain too; she had a tree branch sticking out of her foot; I can’t even imagine how painful that could be. Her big eyes were opened wide like two marbles staring vacantly at the disaster. I wish desperately, achingly that this never happened. How many families were destroyed because of this!? I was worried out of my mind, John still isn’t here yet. Where could he possibly be? And how about Rose and Poppy? Are they alive and well? Questions pound in my head, waiting to be answered by three figures appearing out of the horizon.
Footsteps startled me from behind. I gently slip from Lily and Daisy’s grasps, careful not to wake them up. I turned around slowly and found a tall, muscled man looking back at me with kind eyes. I spotted an OCHA badge on his chest and instantly I let down my guard. “Thank goodness,” I said, I felt so blessed that an International Relocation Organization officer found me and my daughters that I burst into tears. The man smiled, “I’m happy to help,” He pointed towards the trees that create a border around the park, “on the other side of those trees, there’s the Rescue Copter to bring you to the refugee camp, there will be other officers that are looking for survivors in this area,” He looked at Lily and Daisy on the ground, “I can help you with them,” “Thank you,” I said, “can you also tell the other officers that if they find a middle-aged man with two children that his wife and children are safe?” I said, lulling myself into the illusion that John, Rose, and Poppy may still be alive. “Of course, he replied,” He gently picked Lily up, “let’s go,”.