Anne felt the ground moving, pounding, and it was getting stronger. She was terrified, she didn’t know what was going on, and stayed still, concentrated; feeling the ground, and hoped it stopped pounding. There were a million things going on in her head and outside, she had to stay calm and focused. She saw objects moving around her, everything started shaking. She looked around, and knew that it was an earthquake, but she didn't know if she should get out of the building or go under a table. The building started shaking, she could hear the walls shrieking, and was scared that the building might fall apart and bury her alive.
She got up, and felt she should run, flee, and find a safe place. Then, with her brain spinning, she searched for all of the information she could possibly remember about earthquakes and tried to figure out what was the best to do. She reached out her arms, and tried to keep balance, she looked for support on walls and desks, but only found her brother, who was trying to stand up, screaming hopelessly. She was worried that something might fall on her head, so she tried to protect her head with her arms while she ducked and ran, trying to find a safe place where she would be protected. “Kenzo, are you ok?” she said in a gravelly scream.
“What happened?” he cried, “Where’s mom and dad? I’m so scared, are we going to die?”
“It’s an earthquake! You go hide under the table, I’ll look for mom and dad and come back so we can get out of here.” said Anne, who even though was only twelve, two years older than Kenzo, she has always been protective of her little brother.
Crying, Kenzo did as he was told and hid under the kitchen table while Anne went to look for their parents.
Outside was a nightmare, looking out of the broken window that was still quivering violently; she saw the remains of the bakery, her school, and the park that she and her brother went to all the time.
All ruined. Outside was so dimly lit, since the only thing that was producing light was fire. Finally, she saw her parents, looking scared and worried. Her mom was helping her dad to load the truck for the drive next morning before the earthquake struck. She screamed, “MOM!!” and saw her mom’s mouth open and close, but she didn’t hear anything because of all of the noise and chaos that was happening.
Anne’s mom started running towards the house, but her dad grabbed her mom by the waist, pulled her back, and started running towards the house, which started collapsing, like everything else that Anne knew and loved. As her mom watched in horror, the ground ripped open, a few feet in front of her, completely blocking her from the house. She scrambled back to keep herself safe.
Going back to pick up her brother, Anne tried to run to the door, but with the ground moving, it barely allowed Anne to keep moving without falling. She saw her dad at the doorway, and a ray of hope shined on her heart. Anne struggled to walk faster, protecting herself from the rocks and stones falling from the 3 stories that are above her.
But before she could get close to her dad, the ceiling above her dad collapsed and she saw, almost in slow motion, the stone, penetrating her dad’s rib cage splitting him almost in half, the light draining out of his eyes, his head, hits the ground, cracking open, staining what used to be the ground with blood, and the remains of his brain.
Standing there, horrified, she remembered where she was, tears rolled down her face and she tried to keep moving, but she was blocked, and trapped in her apartment. There was nowhere to go, her little brother was crying, he was still shocked from her dad’s death, and it was up to Anne to find a way out.
The apartment was still shaking, and hard, Anne was surprised it was still standing. She decided that the only was she could survive would be to sit under a table and hope she wouldn’t get crushed by a rock. She quickly got under the only table that was standing, her desk. As she sat down, and positioned her brother right in front of her, under the table, she watched the floor that she was just standing on, collapse and create a giant hole in the floor.
Dust was everywhere; Anne couldn’t hear anything since her ears were deafen by the chaos. She felt nauseous. The earthquake had been happening for almost two minuets now, and luckily, she was still alive. She almost felt safe before the whole floor above her collapsed. It happened so suddenly that Anne didn’t have time to react. Rocks were falling everywhere, and if it weren’t that they were under the table, they might have died because of the rocks. Then, what was left of the floor on top of them, fell, crushing the table and landing on top of Anne and Kenzo who then passed out.
Anne woke up to the sound of rocks rolling down more rocks. Everything was loudly silent. Anne tried to look to her right and saw that her right arm was wedged under a huge stone, and when she tried to move it, it sent waves of pain up her arm. When she looked to her left, her left arm was ok and she could move it freely. When she looked down, she saw that her legs and her torso were stuck under a massive stone. Luckily enough, there were no stones on top of her upper body and face. Based on all of the gaps between the rocks where she could see through, they were about 5 feet under a pile of rocks.
Then, Anne remembered that Kenzo was also with her when the building collapsed. “Kenzo!” she tried to yell, but it came out as a mangled cry. Anne heard some light coughing and then, “I’m alive!” softly, but with enthusiasm. “Kenzo,” Anne said. “can you move?”
“Yah,” said Kenzo with a grunt, “but not my legs.” Looking around, Anne realized that they were imprisoned under the same rock, she thought.
She didn’t know if they were going to get out of this alive and she didn’t want to know. She might have started to cry if she hadn’t been so traumatized about what had just happened. It was getting a little bright outside and Anne could hear people crying and moving above them, so she yelled, “MOM!!”
“Anne!” her mom screamed back, since there was still a lot of chaos outside. There was no fire department or police to help besides the civilians who survived the fatal earthquake. Everyone who survived was crawling around in the rocks in tattered, torn, bloodstained clothes, trying to help the survivors who were buried under the rubble and ruins of the city.
“Anne, where are you?” her mom screamed
“Mom?!” Kenzo wheezed.
“Kenzo!” her mom yelled again. “I’m coming for you guys!”
Anne then heard rocks being stirred and rolled away. There were probably other survivors looking for people who were still alive but buried because these sounds were coming from multiple directions. After a while, Anne could see her mom, but only through a crack in the rocks.
“Please sir, I’m begging you, help me, my son and daughter are trapped under some stones, please help me!” Anne’s mom cried.
“Ma’am, don’t cry, we will try to help you rescue your children.” said a male in the group of survivors.
They were also some other people helping her mom. There were three men who looked in there 30’s and 40’s, and one other woman who looked also in her 30’s. They all looked exhausted and traumatized, but they were kind enough to assist Anne’s mom. They were discussing something but Anne couldn’t get a grasp on what it was.
“Ma’am, the way that the rocks are positioned, there is no way we can save both of your children, we can save one, but the other might get crushed during the rescue.” said a deep male voice. Anne heard a sharp intake of breath of her mom, and could hear that she was crying. The news came so suddenly, they had come so far, survived the worst, just so one could be saved, and the other die.
“Save Both! Please! Save both!” Anne’s mom cried, she was on her knees, begging the other people. Anne could feel her heart rate speeding up, her fingers twitching. Why can’t they save both of us? She could feel tears roll down her dirty, bloodstained and mud stained face.
“Ma’am, you have to decide, other people are waiting for people to rescue them as well. You either choose now, or both of them die.” said a female voice.
‘Kenzo or me?’ Anne thought, her head was spinning.
It was a sunny, spring day, Memorial Day. There was a soft breeze, just enough to rustle her hair. They were at a cemetery, to worship their ancestors. This cemetery was surrounded by a tall metal fence, from what the fence was protecting them from, Anne did not know. In every direction, you could see tombstones, usually separated by a patch of grass or a flower garden, to give the people who were worshipping their ancestors some privacy. Of course, not everyone got to worship their ancestors. Anne could not worship her ancestors because she was a girl, and all women did not get to worship their ancestors, for only men carry on their family name.
“Kenzo, make me proud, you have to keep our family name for generations and generations to come.” said Anne’s grandfather when he thought Anne couldn’t hear them. Looking at her feet, Anne smelled smoke of heaven money burning, you burn the special money, and your ancestors in heaven receive it so they can use it in heaven. She could hear the men in their family, her brother, father, uncle and grandfather, whispering things as they did this. As this was happening Anne realized that even though her grandparents loved her, they loved her brother even more. Not because of who he was or how he treated them, but because he was the one who would carry on the family name.
Frozen in time and space, Anne realized what that woman had just said. It was either going to be her or her brother who died. It had to be her, everybody in her family counted on Kenzo to succeed, and if Kenzo died now, everybody who was still alive would have no hope anymore, because the only person who could extend the family legend, had died. She had to die, not Kenzo.
“Please, save both!” her mom wept, as if she cried enough, they could save both of her children.
“Mom,” Anne coughed “You have to save Kenzo.”
“Anne.” her mom whimpered, “I don’t know . . .”
“Mom, you can save one of us, or let both of us die. And if you let both of us die, I wont forgive you.” Anne said in a firm yet caring voice.
“But . . .” her mom sniveled.
“Mom, one of has to go, and . . . its easier this way.” Anne sighed.
“ANNE, NO!!!” screamed Kenzo, in a weak, shaky voice.
“Save . . . save the boy.” Anne’s mom told the people helping her. “I love you Anne.” she sobbed.
“I love you mom. And Kenzo,” she coughed, “live for me.” Anne exhaled. As they were moving stone, Anne held her mom’s hand. Anne’s mom was crying, “Be Strong” Anne said as she faded into a world of memory.
As Anne’s mom carries Kenzo to the rescue zone, Anne’s body was puled out by the rescuers and put on the only flat part of the ground, now a graveyard, filled with hundreds of people, all dead. They placed her down next to what remained of her dad, as thick sheets of icy water pummeled what once was the ground, and now just some cement, wood and glass. Cluttering what once was the beautiful city of Tangshan, China.