We’ll do it all. Everything. On our own. We don’t need. Anything. Or anyone.
Those words were the last I remember from her. She vanished in front of me in a blink of an eye. I couldn’t do anything to prevent it. Or to stop her. ‘We’ll do it all.’ It keeps repeating in my head. ‘Everything.’ My body is unable to move. And my mind is pausing on the image of her leaving. ‘On our own.’ The world around me slowed down, sounds echoing. I feel nothing. Everything becomes blurring.
It all started few weeks ago. It was the end of a chapter, as she used to say. She was passing her final exams when I heard her say it for the first time. We’ll do it all, everything, on our own. We don’t need anything, or anyone. She looked at me in the eyes as she pronounced the last word. I could feel her determination, her will to succeed without any help. Who could help us anyway. Nobody understood what she was going through or they forgot how it was to be under the pressure of being judge by people who don’t know that your life depends on them. She kept repeating it before each exam. I don’t know where she found the courage to get through it all alone. Few of her classmates gave up in the middle of finals. Some left right before the end. When she passed her last exam, the worst one I think, she felt relieved. I could feel it. So did the others. She screamed to free all of her frustrations, pressure and anger she gathered for the last two years. The next week was supposed to be the easy part, where she was in between lives, waiting without beliefs her results. It was a week where she was still a student on vacation. But something went wrong.
One morning before the results came out, there was a huge sound followed by an earthquake. It woke us up. I went outside to see what was going on. I saw few neighbors getting out as well or putting their heads out. I walked to a main street. It was separated in two by a large hole. Buildings were wiped out. Cars drove right to it. I tried to warn them but, by the time they understood my signals, they were already falling down. Afar, there were dark smocks getting higher in the sky. She joined me. I looked at her: she couldn’t believe her eyes. She grabbed my arm, terrified. A second loud sound came from above us. We looked up. A ball of fire shred the blue sky. It landed not so far from us. A violent wind hit us. It was followed by five seconds of silence then we started to hear screaming. The ground trembled again. It increased more and more until we lost balance. Then the calm came back. I looked at her, checked on her. She seemed to be focus on something: she looked around, analyzing everything. Suddenly, she stood up and dragged me to the apartment. She grabbed a backpack and put her wallet, a charger, few clothes and books, a bottle of water, few papers, her red book, a pen, a pencil and her car key. She changed her shoes without lacing them before rushing outside again. I didn’t notice before I saw it but the ground was shaking again. People were screaming to death. Cries joined sounds of crashing buildings. She poked me on the shoulder as I was stuck on the view of a body crushed by an upside down car. I followed her to the car. We jumped in and she drove away from that craziness. When we were far enough, she looked at me and asked: ‘What the F was that?’ I didn’t have the time to respond that she pulled over the car. In front of us, there was a huge hole. I saw something odd. I opened the window to see more clearly: there was a hand holding on something unstable. I heard a deep voice screaming and a child crying. I was about to inform her but she was already running towards them. I caught up on her. A man was holding his son in his right arm while holding on with his left hand. We lost two seconds staring at each other. Suddenly, she kneeled and reached out to the kid. His father tried to push him up but he was too scared to let go and get in stranger’s arms. She reassured him and finally gained his trust, at least, for the next five minutes. She pulled him to the ground and made sure he wasn’t injured. Then she grabbed the man’s arm. She leaned on her legs and started to push. ‘Come on! Help me help you!!’ On those words, the man was half way out of the hole. On a final effort, she pulled him out. Out of breath, they both lied down for few seconds. The ground shook again. She stood up, addressed me a sign and took her bag and the keys. She gave the man her car key: ‘Take your kid to a safe place. There are three more seats in the car, so take people on your way’, then left.
I caught up on her and tried to keep up with her pace. ‘Where are we going, now?’ I gazed around. People were filthy. Desperate. Lost. The earthquakes were over, so did the screaming. Only cries and our footsteps kept resonating in the air. We walked for hours going nowhere. We saw corpses at every corner. She suddenly stopped. Ahead of us, a woman was screaming for help without anyone hearing her. We ran to her trying to decipher her words: her brother was stuck underneath a wall on the first floor of her house. We looked at each other for a second then rushed to the house. I heard groans from behind a door. She kicked it and ran toward the man on the floor. Blood was flowing all around him. I examined the wall. ‘You can lift it. Find something to use as a lever.’ She took an iron bar and placed it between the man and the wall. She started pushing. The wall mounted up a little bit. She pushed harder. A weird sound preceded a sudden scream. She froze. ‘What was that?’ she asked. ‘Apparently, a big screw was stuck in him.’ She tried to evaluate the space underneath the wall and pushed a little more. ‘Can you move?’ From his screaming, she guessed no.
The wall started to get low. The man noticed it and tried in vain to move his body. The wall approached slowly but steadily the man’s face when, in a loud scream, it flew high. In the middle of its course, it stopped for a second. The man saw a foot coming dangerously close to his face. The foot hit the ground strongly. Then a body hid the wall to make it disappear.
She pushed it on the side and let herself fall with it. They took a moment to catch their breath. Him from seeing death face to face and her from the oddly incredible strength she just delivered. The man tried to sit down after regaining his mind. But she remained lying. I thought it was strange. I came closer and checked on her. She looked me in the eyes with a shy smile on her face. Her shirt turned red. ‘Another screw.’ I pulled her out of it. The bleeding went worse. I put her left hand on the hole: ‘Keep pressure on it’ and helped her walk to what was left of the bathroom. Fortunately, we found a first aid kit. We came back to the man to stop his bleeding and put some bandages around his belly. She made sure he wasn’t badly injured somewhere else before she took care of her own. A small earthquake took us by surprise. A sound of something falling and smashing into something else worried us. When everything was calm again, nothing in the room was destroyed. I helped her stand up: ‘Can you walk?’ she asked. The man could barely stand up but was able to move. She helped him get out of the room. When we faced the stairs, we froze for a moment. I went first to make sure it was steady enough for us to walk on. Then they followed me. In the middle of the stairs, under the man’s steps, a sound of cracking scared us. By the time we turned around, the sound became louder and he disappeared. Thanks to his instincts of survival, he held on what was left of the stairs. By reflexes, she grabbed his arm: ‘Let go!’ His look on his face revealed his fear. ‘Come on, trust me!’ He hesitated for a moment and finally let go. His body went brusquely down a little bit but she had him. I saw on her face that she didn’t have the strength to pull him up anymore. I held on her free arm: ‘You’re gonna put him down.’ She started to get over the stairs. She held on tightly but her arms were trembling. What a dumb idea, really, she thought. Slowly, the man was close enough to jump without getting hurt, so she let go of him. He landed safely on his two feet. She looked down to measure the distance between her and the floor. ‘It will be alright. Come on, let go’. She let go of the stairs. As she did so, her arm met a sharp piece of wood that opened her forearm to her palm. In a scream, she fell on the ground, trampling her ankle. ‘Are you ok?’ the man asked. She stood up. ‘Yes, let’s get out of here.’ We walked out to the man’s sister. She ran to us, relieved, scared and happy at the same time. As they hugged each other, we walked away without a word.
As her blood kept flowing, we walked to an unknown destination. Her pace slowed down and her skin became pale. She could hardly breathe. I stopped her in the middle of the street. I sat her down against a destroyed building, pulled out the bottle of water and made her drink few sips. I looked around if there was anything I could use to make her feel better. But there was nothing. Not even a single person. She looked me in the eyes, a bigger smile on her face. ‘We’ll do it all, everything, on our own. We don’t need anything, or anyone.’ A strong wind blew the dirt on the floor. It was so thick I lost sight of her. ‘Hang on!’ I heard myself shout. ‘Hey!!’ But when the view became clearer, it was too late. Her eyes were closed, her heart stopped beating and her hand let go of mine. She vanished.
Her words keep repeating in my head. My body is unable to move and my mind is pausing on the image of her smile. The world around me slowed down, sounds echoing. I feel nothing. Everything becomes blurring. I freeze in this street, alone. I feel a small breeze going through my chest. I start to get cold. I look down at my hand. I can see through it. I’m disappearing as well. I sit down next to her. I put my hand on hers. I can feel her body no more. The breeze becomes warmer. I look up. The sky is clothed by grey clouds. I hear the rain starting to fall. The smell of it invades the air. I gaze around. Rain on buildings seemed to be tears. I feel tired. I close my eyes, lulled by the sound of rain. ‘See you on the other side’.