How to Survive an Earthquake
Crouch down and protect your face from the flying aluminum pans, empty beer bottles, and dirty glass ashtrays. Clench your teeth as waves of seismic pain shoot across your forearms. Forget about the broken china, shattered photo frames, and fist-sized holes in the wall. Remind yourself they are replaceable. Remind yourself you are not. Taste the metallic tinge of blood as it pools in your mouth. Understand the wounds will heal. Over time. Remember that some already have. Heed to Mia and Lucas, cowering in the shadows of the doorway with their hands over their ears, pleading, “please, Daddy, STOP!” Pray to the heavens he didn't notice them. Smell the alcohol on his breath. Cringe at the expletives belting across the room. Watch Mia and Lucas scurry away; think about their safety. Take a deep breath and summon the courage to fight back. Act quickly, as if their lives depend on it. Because it does. Hear the sirens wail in your driveway. Be thankful for your prying neighbors. Realize the instability of your home and evacuate immediately. Never return. Ever. Assure Mia and Lucas the earthquake was not their fault. Reassure them the earthquakes are never their fault. Hold them close and tell them how proud you are to be their mother. Breathe deeply to savor the fresh air. Start to forgive yourself, and when you do, stand tall and feel the world settle beneath you.
Jennifer Lai lives in Washington state where she tends to her pet rocks and dying pepper plants. She has work in or upcoming from Blue Lake Review, Free Flash Fiction, Brilliant Flash Fiction and others.