www.whyville.net May 5, 2013 Weekly Issue

Guest Artist

The Girl Who Survived an Earthquake

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They pretend as if I don't exist. They forgot to attend the most important day of my singing career. My parents didn't attend my maiden concert. I was going to sing their favorite song. How could they do that? Their behavior has been odd in the past few days. Very odd. Ever since that fateful day.

That day is crystal clear in my mind. Whenever I think about it, an eerie chill engulfs me. This cold feeling envelops me and suffocates me. But nobody seems to notice. That was a particularly hot day. The entire town was abuzz with activities. The much awaited I-CBT, short for Inter-City Basketball Tournament, was going to be hosted by our city for the first time in 20 years. Kids and adults alike were busy shopping for merchandise. I was enjoying a chocolate ice-cream with my friend Claire. Then it struck. The earthquake.

The ground beneath my feet shook so hard that I felt I was going to vomit all the chocolate ice-cream. Claire fell on the ground just before my eyes. Yet, I couldn't do anything. I was too paralyzed to move. Kids and adults alike were plummeting on the ground. A violent tremor caught me unawares. A tweny-storey building crumbled into powder before my very eyes. One minute, a boy was dribbling a basketball and another minute he and his father were under the debris of yet another building. All the shops, houses of people I knew and didn't and all commercial structures were just a heap of fragmented bricks. Yet I was unscathed. Unhurt. Everybody I could perceive was unconscious. Kids with basketballs, posters and new T-shirts. Adults with basketballs, caps of their favorite teams and banners. They lay on the ground motionless, barely recognizable under the debris. Just a moment before, I had seen these people with sparkling eyes and hopeful dispositions, eagerly preparing for the sports extravaganza. Now they lay hopelessly, devoid of any eagerness or any anticipations. I stood like a mute witness to nature's cruel wrath.

Then it all changed. My parents removed all my photographs from their apartment. My friends pretended to ignore me. What was my fault? That I was the sole survivor of a tragedy that claimed hundreds of lives? That I couldn't help anyone because I was too paralyzed to move?

Since then, everybody changed. My life changed. I become non-existent.

Until . . .

This particular day was another turning point in my life. It was the same hot, summer day and I was enjoying an ice-cream on the same street. Only this time, I was alone. Lonely and alone. Then it happened. I heard a blast that nearly ripped my ears out. The impact was so huge that everybody on that street was pushed nearly 3 metres away from where they were. Blood was the only thing visible to my eyes. Thick, red blood. Dead bodies. Myself untouched. I had survived another tragedy unscathed. Or had I?

All memories, which had been buried deep in my mind due to grief and sorrow, resurfaced. Claire being buried alive in the debris. Claire's piercing voice shouting out for help. And another familiar voice. Only, feebler than normal. My voice. Claire hadn't died alone that day.


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