As a child I was always very curious. I would ask a question and keep asking until I got an answer I was satisfied with. I would ask my mom again and again. That trait has not really changed even as I’ve gotten older. “But mom can’t you tell me what you’re doing tonight? If you tell me maybe I’ll stop bothering you!” I followed my mom down the hall of our one story house. My mom sighed and gave me a meek smile as though that was enough to give me the answer I was looking for. Now that I’m almost in high school my mom expects more from me. But what can I say? That curious part of me will always be there.
I nibbled my cookie in anticipation. Was she going on a date? Did she have a meeting? My mind spun with the possibilities.
A familiar cry from behind made me turn around. It was my brother. My brother who was spoiled rotten, who cried when he was unsatisfied, who always got what he wanted in the end. I know I can’t blame him too much. Xan is only six and if anyone is to blame for his behavior it would be my mom for always giving in to his six year old cuteness. “Mommy, who ate my cookie?” he gave a sniffle. I froze. My hand went to my mouth where crumbs dotted the edges of my lips.
“Char did you...” but that’s all that managed to come out of his mouth because suddenly there was a rumble. The next one was bigger. Xan started to cry. I fell to my knees as something crashed to the ground. The floor shook with rage. Something stabbed my arm and it burned as though it was on fire. My senses changed and blurred and I couldn’t keep anything straight. Smoke filled my lungs. My vision blurred with oranges, yellows, and reds. “Char! Char!” The voices echoed in my head. “Help, please, help,” I mumbled. Someone grabbed my arm and soon the sweet air entered my body. Was I shaking? No it was the ground that was bobbing up and down like waves. I felt pain, lot’s of pain. My right ear started to ring. The noise got louder as my arm went numb. I closed my eyes and let the darkness consume me.
I took a sharp breath. My eyes burst open and I sat up. Right away I felt the pain in my arm. I moaned and noticed the dry blood all over my clothes. There was glass in my leg and burns on my chest. A ringing noise still chimed in my ear. I looked around. There were ruins everywhere. My house was half intact and smoke still floated from the remains. I stood up despite the pain. I had never been in an earthquake before let alone a fire. “XAN! XAN!” I called. “MOM!”
Some of the neighbors looked my way. Their houses were just as ruined as ours, some worse. Our neighborhood is on the lower side of town and most of the houses around here aren’t very stable. I felt like crying but I just couldn't get the words out. A voice rung out behind me but I couldn’t sound out the words. I turned around just as my mom embraced me. “Mom!” I started to cry. She was crying too. Sobbing so hard I wasn’t sure what to do. “Mom, I’m so glad you’re alright. Now where is Xander?” I tried to talk in a calming voice for the sake of her feelings. My mom looked up from my shoulder. There was so much pain in her face. I knew deep down that what she was about to say would change my life forever.
I cried and cried until I couldn’t see. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t hear. How could I live my life without Xan, knowing that I would never see him again. I look a deep breath and crumpled to the ground.
I walked into the kitchen. My mom was making veggie stew. “I’m home,” I sang. She looked up from her carrots and smiled at me. “How was the first day of school?” she asked. “More or less the same.” I knew my mom was looking for a better answer but senior year isn’t that different from any other year in high school. I fidgeted with my hearing aid. It’s been three years since the earthquake but I’m still not used to it. My mom gave me a faraway smile. “Everything alright?” I asked. “It’s fine, just the mortgage to pay.” She wore a worried look on her face. “It’ll be okay. We’ll figure it out.” I ran to her side and gave her a hug. “We always do.”