Close your eyes.

For the 'Inspired by a song' contest. Inspired by Pompeii- Bastille.

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3. Three

They started small. The first only shook the table enough to make it creek. We barley looked up from our meal, wallowing in the utopic atmosphere. The second shook the rafters enough to stir a little dust from the ceiling, which sifted down onto the ground. Father looked up, startled, at the growing crack in the while clay. He muttered something like: “Damn. I’ll have to get the plasterers back in.”

 

The third brought the house down. A roaring thunder filled my ears and then blackness. It was that quick. I don’t know how but I had managed to get under the table, but it gave me enough space to breath even though the weight of the ceiling was crushing my body. The oak slab had been split in two by the shake, forming a kind of tent of protection around my head.  My whole world was pitch darkness and the choking smell of dust. My legs were hopelessly trapped by rubble. I was aware of a heavy pounding, and realised my heart was trying to escape up my throat. Then I was getting drowsy, yet someone from my privileged schooling was telling me that I mustn’t sleep, it was the lack of air and if I slept I wouldn’t wake up… but it was getting hard to focus and I was slipping away by the time the forth tremor came. It shook the very air, and must have brought down any remaining houses. It also saved my life. The debris surrounding me shifted, enough to reveal a chink of light.

I still have no idea how I clawed my way out of the rubble. I’d lived soft all my life, was not physically fit, and in no way mentally prepared to fight for my life. But somehow, pumped full of adrenaline, as if possessed, I crawled out into the ruins and out into the light of the sunset.

Before I could so much as get my bearings, a pitiful wail consumed all of my attention. My sister. I yelled her name again and again at the mound that used to be my favourite place in the world. Something stirred slightly. Thank the gods she wasn’t a deeply buried as me.

Again the unexplainable force within me was triggered by my desperate need to protect her. Instinct and adrenaline dug her out of the dust and splintered clay bricks. Filthy and bloody we stood together, shaking, clinging to each-other. Her face was streaked with tears and I could almost feel the desperation and hopelessness weighing down her slumped shoulders. She held out her left leg at a funny angle, balanced painfully on her right, face tight with pain. I half carried her off the foundations and we stand and look at our home. All around me people were digging themselves and loved ones up. It was silent, eerily so, besides the occasional whimper and the scrape of fingernails on dirt.

Our ruins trembled a little, and to my overwhelming relief my father burst out. He dragged himself over to us and enveloped us in his arms. For a few seconds I felt safe. Everything would be alright. My sister was shaking beside me like a leaf. Then he broke away and smiled at us. Actually smiled! How could he be such an optimist about this? Then I realised he was protecting us. Protecting my sister with that smile. But I could see how utterly hopeless the situation was behind the façade; behind the light in his eyes he was burning. I think I must have decided that I had to be optimistic too, for my little sister, because I returned his smile but when she looked away, her attention demanded elsewhere, I dropped it.

I followed her gaze and my heart stopped beating. The wall, the wall that encases Atlantis, protecting our little island from the sea and attackers, was cracking. Built by our most powerful sorcerers long ago, inscribed with the blackened gold symbols that gave it the god’s blessing, I had foolishly assumed that it was impenetrable. That we would be safe forever. How could I be an optimist now?

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