Escaping from a Tsunami


We were on vacation, in a cafeteria, waiting to get on board a plane to one of the islands. It was pouring down outside. A group sat at a long plastic table, but there wasn’t room for us, so Siobhan dragged a second table and aligned it next to theirs. Still it was too small to fit all of us, so I added another table, aligning it next to Siobhan’s.

A woman was sitting at the long table. She was thin, a blue dress, with thin wispy blonde hair, neatly crossed her legs.

“What are  you doing here?” I asked.

“I am studying, I am from Tsongawaras.”

At least I think that is what she said, but every time she said it, even though I would cock my ear, I could not make her out.

“Do you even know where that is?” She challenged. Maybe Tonga or New Zealand? Australia? She said it again, but I still could not make her out. Perhaps it was a town.

“Is it in New Zealand?” I ventured. She looked at me, I think, with disdain; figured it was time for us to go.


By the time Siobhan, Liam and I had gotten up from our chairs, Lizzie was already with Elaine and her group.

Outside the wind and rain swirled around us. Two prop planes sat waiting on the runway. A crowd was trying to get on but in the distance we saw the first wave. It was huge in dimension and tall with dark blue and white flecks of foam. It reached up above the planes, curled its white fangs over the top, and crashed down on both planes, and around the people trying to get on.

“Hurry up,” Lizzie cried out at us through the rain. Somehow we had gotten separated and she was already on the stairs of the first plane.

“We will just get the next.” I called back. Siobhan, Liam and I ascended the second set of steps and found our seats in the second plane. I briefly wondered whether it was wise but before the decision was made the plane took off.

Immediately, as we were in the air and to my right through the window there was another huge wave, dark blue, almost purple, and several buildings high. It was much higher than the plane and clearly about to engulf us. It approached as a wall and smashed through the cabin.

Water was everywhere, quickly submerging everything, until it reached head level. Strangely I could still breathe, and every time I expected my next breath to be water, it was not. Though my mouthfuls of air became more constricted and everything above and below was water and floating debris, I was still able to breath in small pockets of air.

Then the plane lurched down and just as the water emptied out from the cabin, we came to a halt on the runway.

Siobhan, Liam and I were back on the shore but Liam was now a baby, with a distraught look on his face, his head bald like that of a new new born.

I scooped him up, held him in my arms, his small face close to mine.

”It is breaking my heart,” he cried.

“We got to get him out of here,” I shouted through the rain to Siobhan. In the distance I saw another wave cresting. It was miles in width, the same dark hue. Though this one wasn’t as high as the first, it was still buildings high; and we reached the cafeteria and sat down just as it loomed up in front of us and pushed through the open doors.

The wave dissipated quickly this time, with only a foot of water washed across the floor, but all the same Liam fell to the floor. He lay face up as the water emptied out across the tiles. Once again I picked him up; when I turned Siobhan had already gone.

Next was a shopfront with heavy set glass doors which the owner let us slide through. I had let a panicked couple in before we barricaded the door and I was willing to wait there but Siobhan wanted to keep going.

In the back was a restaurant, so I followed her advice, went in with her.


Then there came the third wave, we could see hovering in the distance. Again several buildings high, this time larger than any previous. It was going to be devastating.

The restaurant opened out into a courtyard and Siobhan, Liam, now fully grown, and I stood on one side tucked under the eaves, pressed tight against the wall of the walkway.

Then we watched the first rivulets of water like budding tendrils slither down the columns that held up the roof.

Photo from Max Pixel

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