Fiction in response to Life Below Water
February 2019

Part 2: Boardwalk

By Grace Muresan

It started out as a regular day, just as all others, little out of the ordinary other than the news about “Hurricane Micheal” and the heavy rain outside. Suddenly, though, while I was in the gym suffering through PE, all the lights went out and immediately kids started screaming and the hurricane alarm shrieked. At first I did not panic. But after a moment of sitting still, hyperventilating in the dim light and terrifying chaos, I heard glass shattering and was promptly sprayed with debris and water. It puddled around my feet. For a moment I felt frozen, my feet trapped.

 

Then I heard a hideously panicked shout. It was my PE coach. “Flora, RUN!!!” I looked up just in time to see a tree branch as thick as my leg hurtling, propelled by the rain, directly at my face. The last thing I remember was screaming, “Georgia!”

 

Hi. My name is Flora, I am 12 years old, and I live in Panama City, Florida with my parents and little sister Georgia. Florida is a nice place to live in and we love it here, but recently there is no place I wouldn’t rather be. The tree branch I was hit with knocked me out, and my PE coach must have tried to carry me out, following the evacuation orders, only to be overwhelmed by the floods and be swept away. Anyway, however, I got there, I woke up in a place I’ve seen before. I was on the boardwalk.

 

I lifted my head from the sandy beach, aching everywhere. I had a long scratch down my back that burned painfully, several smaller scrapes, and plentiful bruises. The whole place seemed to be deserted. A wave washed over me, leaving me spluttering and coughing salt water. Noticing something strange, though, I suddenly sat up gasping. Oh no.

 

The place was a wreck. I got up carefully and painfully, taking in the once familiar sight. The ticket booth had been torn to the ground, game stations and rides had their toys and food and seats and anything and everything that wasn’t bolted down wrenched away, but the worst sight of all was the beach. A couple other people lay on the beach, seeming as horrified as me. But that wasn’t the worst thing.

 

Everything that had been swept away by the hurricane seemed to have wound up in the ocean. For long stretches across the horizon, trash covered the ocean like a blanket. Little pools of oil discolored some parts, in many places trees and cars and parts of houses floated at the surface, and to my horror, some poor, unlucky drowned corpses.

 

Suddenly a thought flashed through my head. Georgia. Where was she? Was she safe? Her school was farther from the coast, but she could have easily been swept away by the heavy rain anyway. I reached in my back pocket for my phone. It was luckily still there, but a long crack ran the length of its screen, and there were several apparent dents. Despite this, by some magical technical power, it still worked. I immediately quick-dialed my mom’s number. It took me directly to voicemail. I almost panicked, but some stronger instinct told me to keep trying. I called dad, but he didn’t pick up either. Finally, after a moment of frantic pacing among the destroyed boardwalk on one side and the littered ocean on the other, I resolved to call 911.

 

Hours slurred by between waiting, the ambulance ride, the hospital, and the hurricane shelter. With no way to contact my family, I sat and prayed, a 12-year-old smudge in the masses.

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