"No one will ever forget today. On the table, a newspaper with the headline..."
As Candace sat down at her oak dining room table with her coffee, she folded out the newspaper and saw the headline: "One year later, we remember those lost in the California earthquake." Candace took a breath as she brought her tan cup of coffee to her quivering lips. She closed her eyes to both savor the taste of the Arabica beans, and to fight back the tears. As she placed the cup back down on the table, she continued reading.
"Local hero sacrificed his own life to save local woman. Resident Candace Armstrong among 10 survivors of the 9.0 temblor that devastated California."
Candace continued to fight back tears. The man who saved her life was her beloved.
That day, that fateful day, Candace and Patrick were running for their lives to safety, along with 9 others. Buildings crumbled around them; the ground was crumbling beneath their feet. Just as they reached the state border, Candace felt Patrick push her. She was flown 10 feet and landed on her stomach. She winced in pain as she looked behind her. She gasped in horror as she noticed the deep hole in the earth. Time stopped as Candace screamed for Patrick. She managed to get to her feet, and she walked to the hole. Smoke began to clear as she stood at the edge of the earth. Candace looked down and collapsed to her knees. About 25 feet into the ground, she saw the lifeless body of her beloved Patrick. She realized then that he saved her life. She cried out to the Heavens. Minutes later, she was approached by a group of military personnel. "Ma'am come with us. This area is not safe."
The men helped Candace to her feet, and she turned to face them. "My fiancé pushed me forward as the ground collapsed. He saved my life by sacrificing his own. He's down there." Candace pointed into the ground. One of the guards looked down and nodded to the other men. An older military guard put his arm around her. "Ma'am, I'm sorry for your loss. We have to leave the area now. There is a tsunami headed this way."
Candace nodded and followed the men to their truck.
Candace finished the rest of her coffee as she allowed tears to fall down her face. That day, she lost everything she loved. Candace was interrupted by a knock at the door. Candace got up and wrapped her white sweater around her thin frame. She made her way to the front door and opened it. The older military guard who brought her to safety stood in the doorway. "Morning Ms. Candace. I brought you some breakfast."
Candace smiled and motioned for him to come in. "Thank you, Sergeant Morris. Would you like some coffee?"
Sergeant Morris nodded. "That would be great." Candace showed him into the kitchen and invited him to sit at the island. Sergeant Morris sat down and cleared his throat. "How are you holding up?"
Candace turned to face Sergeant Morris as she fixed his coffee. "The phone hasn't stopped ringing. Good morning US, news networks, even Oprah's people keep asking me for interviews. I had to unplug my phone."
Sergeant Morris took a sip of his coffee and placed the cup down. "Same here. Even the President wants to meet with me. I haven't been up to it. I lost people too. My wife, my 2 sons and 2 daughters, my home, my dog, everything. I don't want publicity. I just want to mourn their losses."
Candace nodded. "I understand that. It's as if the media doesn't care that we are going through hell. They just want a story. I wish they would back off!"
Sergeant Morris acknowledged her wish. "Me too. That's one of the reasons why I retired from the military a month after the earthquake."
Sergeant Morris' phone started ringing as he finished his cup of coffee. "This is Morris. Turn on the TV? Okay. Thank you." Sergeant Morris hung up his phone. "Candace, do you mind if I turn on your TV?"
Candace motioned for him to follow her into the living room. She turned on the TV and both stood in their tracks as they listened to the newscast.
"One year after the devastating quake that leveled the west coast, another one has it. This time, a magnitude 9.5 has hit 100 miles off the coast of Washington, D.C. There have already been reports of widespread destruction and death. A 150-foot tsunami is imminent. The President has called for a mass evacuation of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Vermont, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, District of Columbia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida. If you live 500-1000 miles from the coast, you are required to evacuate. The President has already evacuated to Nebraska where he will shortly be holding a news conference. If you live in the evacuation zone, obey what your local law enforcement instructs you to do. This is not a drill. Disaster is imminent!"
Candace and Sergeant Morris looked at one another in horror. It was happening, again.