by Anna DiMatteo '20
My eyes are red and wet from crying all day and night. I am sitting in my room, thinking about what happened. “Willow,” my mom says quietly as she opens my door. I look up and give her a heartbreaking look. “Let’s go talk in the living room,” she says, motioning for me to follow her. I slowly get up, walking to the living room. As I enter the room, I see my mom, dad, and brother sitting on the couches. I take a seat and stare blankly at the floor.
“Grandma would’ve been so proud of you,” my mom said. “She would want you to go after your dreams and goals in life.” I smile slightly, walking over to my mom and hugging her.
“We are all proud of you,” my dad says, joining the hug.
My brother walks over to me. “We are here for you,” he says.
“I’m so thankful for all of you, we will get through this together,” I say in tears. I wake up suddenly crying, frantically looking around the dark room. I look over at the clock; it reads 2:23AM. The memories flood back to me from my grandma’s passing. That whole event made me realize how much my family meant to me, and how much we mean to each other. I drift back to sleep and let the darkness surround me.
“Vroommm.” It’s the sound of cars zooming through the streets of Hawaii’s numerous roads. The sounds of the cars wake me up from my slumber, slowly forcing me to open my eyes as sunlight fills my room. I stare at the ceiling, thinking about what I’m going to do for the rest of the day. I get up and make my way to the kitchen, where I see my mom eating her lunch at the table. My mom is very beautiful for her age; she has long light brown hair and hazel eyes, and spends most of her time gardening and cooking.
“Where’s Mark?” I ask as I take a seat next to her. Mark is my little brother who’s twelve. He has brown hair and blue eyes just like me, but I’m more athletic and he tends to spend his time playing video games.
“He went to the beach with dad. I suggest you head down there and see what they’re up to,” Mom says, sipping her coffee.
I quickly change into my suit and put on a cover up. Strolling down the walkway to the
beach, I start to take in my surroundings. The sky is baby blue, showing no sign of any storm nor cloud, the palm trees move freely in the fresh atmosphere, and the sun is vibrant, warming the island. I reach the beach and see my brother and dad making sandcastles near the water. My dad looks similar to me with dark brown hair and blue eyes, he works as a vet on the island which I admire and want to do when I graduate high school in a year.
I walk over to them, smiling. “Hey, guys.”
They look up. “Hey, we could use some help with the sandcastle if you’re up for that,” my dad says smiling back at me.
I tell him, “I would but it’s getting kind of hot so I'm going to head into the water for a swim.” As my feet touch the water I gasp to myself, “Cold.” I wade in the water, looking up at the sky. The wind starts to shift a little, moving faster than normal. A couple of people on the beach don’t seem to take any threat from it so they continue on with their activities. I change my wading spot to a standing position and look at the palm trees dancing behind me. “Odd,” I think to myself, looking back towards the ocean. The currents start to pick up speed, thrashing against some nearby rocks. The wind gets more aggressive as the water seems to be pulling towards the sea.
“TSUNAMI!!!!!” someone yells, racing towards the heart of the island. My eyes go wide. Turning, I see a massive wall of water starting to form a little ways out to sea. “WILLOW!!!!” my dad shouts, “GET OUT OF THE WATER!!!”
I try and run to the surface but the current force is too strong. “DAD!” I scream. “THE CURRENT IS TOO STRONG!”
Suddenly, I get pulled underwater by the force. My oxygen starts to decrease as my throat fills with water. “It’s over, this is how I will die,” I think. My thoughts overcome my body as I drift away into the sea. Light surrounds me as I suddenly get pulled out of the water by a figure. As I slowly open my eyes, my vision becomes clearer.
“Dad?” I say weakly, looking up at the figure. My dad’s tall figure comes into my focus.
“Dad!” I hug him tightly. Our reunion is broken up by the approaching wave. We run out of the water, running faster than we had ever run before, grabbing my brother’s hand as we go. Stampedes of people are running for their lives, some pushing people to get ahead, some going back for their loved ones. Dad and I run into the house, looking frantically for mom. She is nowhere to be found.
“I won’t leave here until we find her!” I yell through the mayhem.
“We have to leave the island now if we want to have any chance of surviving,” my dad says, looking at my with sad and scared eyes.
“No... NO!” Tears build up in my eyes and I hold them there, not wanting to show my sadness and fear. I know what I have to do: I need to get myself and my family off this island. The three of us sprint out of the house and join the rest of the million people trying to get off the island. The closer the water gets, the more it slows us down.
“We can’t outrun it! We have to get to higher ground!” My dad shouts to Mark and I. We nod quickly, following my dad to a nearby apartment building. I see a ladder on the backside of the building. Walking over to it, I yell, “Guys!” They turn to look at me. “Over here!” I say. I start to climb up the ladder to get to the top of the building. When I’m at the top, I help my dad up, pulling him next to me. As Mark is climbing up the ladder, a rush of water and wind start to slow him down. The water is inching closer and closer to him as he climbs. Suddenly the water surrounds him, trying to pull him off the ladder. I grab his arm in an attempt to pull him up. My dad grabs ahold of his arm at the same time as we pull him up onto the top of the building. I hug his cold, out of breath body, never wanting to let go.
“We got you,” I say, hugging him tightly. I stand up and look towards the ocean. Everything’s destroyed from the first hit of the wave. All the debris and trees are now piled into clumps in the muddy water. I look over at my dad and brother, giving them a sad and defeated look. Suddenly I notice blood trailing down my dad’s leg. I rush over to him.
“Dad, your leg!” I say in shock.
“It’s fine, it’s not that bad,” he says casually. “Right now we have to focus on getting out of here before the second wave hits.”
I motion him to sit down on the roof. “Your cut is going to slow you down if we don’t wrap it up,” I say while I pull off my sleeve and wrap it around the gash in his shin.
“What even happened?” I say.
“I think a loose piece of debris must have cut it while I was climbing up the ladder,” he replies.
As I finish wrapping his shin, I hear a noise in the distance. I get up and peer over near the center of the island. A helicopter is picking people up and evacuating them from the island.
“A helicopter,” I say, a smile growing on my face. I start waving and jumping up and down to get the helicopters attention, but it doesn’t see me in time. My smile fades as I watch it fly away.
“Shit,” I say, defeated. I sit down on the roof, running my hands through my wet, mud
covered hair in frustration.
“It will be okay,” my dad says reassuringly. “The helicopters are evacuating people; they will be back.”
I sigh in relief, feeling a rush of hope. Suddenly, I hear loud sounds coming from behind us. I turn, reacting in terror. The second wave is moving fast towards the center of the island. I start to panic, looking around for something that we can use to get out of there. Nothing. That’s all there was, no way out. Just then, as if God had heard my thoughts, another helicopter was flying through.
“Guys, help me wave the helicopter down!” I say frantically. We all scream and shout, trying to get the attention of the helicopter. The water starts to get closer to the top of the roof. The helicopter suddenly turns and heads right towards us.
“Yes!” I say, tearing up with joy. The helicopter is now over our heads, throwing down a rope ladder.
“Climb on!” A man in the helicopter says.
“You guys go first,” I say to my brother and dad.
“No,” my dad says as he motions me to get on the ladder. I nod, getting up onto the ladder and climbing into the helicopter. The man then grabs my hand and helps me in. My brother and dad start to climb up the latter after me. The water is moving up towards us fast.
“Hurry!” I say, panicking, as I reach out my hand to grab them. Suddenly the building starts to shake. The apartment starts to rumble, breaking at the bottom. Right as the building starts to collapse I grab my dad’s arm and he grabs Mark’s. “Hang on!” I say gritting my teeth as I attempt to pull them up.
“Willow, grab Mark,” he says as he tries to bring Mark to reach my grip. The helicopter starts to shake, causing me to lose my grip. The rope starts to tear from the weight of the three of us.
“Help me,” I say to the man next to me. “Help me lift them up please,” I beg. The man grabs ahold of my dad’s arm as well. Right as we are about to pull them up, the third wave hits, and it hits hard. It feels like a slow motion scene from a movie. I look down at my dad and brother in tears.
“We love you,” my dad says as they fall into the darkness of the thrashing, heartless ocean.
“NOOO!!!” I scream, getting pulled back by the man as the helicopter moves up, avoiding the wave. The helicopter flies away, leaving behind all the construction and pain that Hawaii had left. I can’t stop looking below, traumatized about what I had just witnessed. This feeling I have right now is something I can’t explain. The feeling of losing everyone you love, is a feeling worse than death.