“Don’t step on a crack or you’ll break your mama’s back.” The small girl jumped over a crack in the sidewalk.
Her younger brother jumped but missed.
“Haha, you broke your mother’s back,” the girl said. “Mama, Joseph broke your back.” The little girl taunted.
“No I didn’t,” Joseph said. He scowled at his sister.
“Samantha, don’t tease your brother,” Lily said. She smiled, loving the walks that the three had grown accustomed to. They always walked the same direction because Joseph was fascinated by a small daisy that had pushed its way through the asphalt. They had noticed it about a week ago and had come to check on its progress daily. The tiny flower had found a small crack and over the week had grown. Its white petals looked too delicate to survive in the harsh climate yet every day it surprised her.
Joseph ran up to the small flower. “Mamma, it’s still here.”
“How do think it survives?” Samantha asked.
Lily stooped down next to the small flower. “The daisy has roots that go deep into the ground. That’s what makes it so strong.”
“What do you mean so strong? It looks kinda wimpy to me,” Joseph said. He squinted at the tiny flower.
“Well it’s like us when we have struggles and trials, it makes us stronger. The harder you work your muscles the stronger you get, right?”
“Hmmm, I guess,” he said.
“Well this little flower has had to work so hard to make it through the asphalt it is now stronger than other daisies. That’s like you if you work hard and endure your trials well you will be made strong.”
Lily patted her kids on the head and smiled. “Well, we better get going. Daddy will be home soon.”
They crossed the parking lot toward a small gate in the fence. Joseph ran ahead but Samantha quickly overtook him. Lily smiled. They are such a blessing.
She hurried through the gate and up the street toward their home. There was nothing special about but it was theirs. They had just moved to the neighborhood a few months ago and already had made many new friends.
“Mom, can we stay outside for a little longer?” Samantha asked.
“Yes, but only for a little bit then you need to get washed up for dinner.”
Lily went into the house and began to prepare dinner. Dan would be home soon and she wanted to make him a special dinner. She had always liked making him dinner but tonight was important. Dan had been working on getting a promotion for sometime and he had called home earlier letting her know that he had finally gotten it. Life was so wonderful. Things had seemed to turn around for them in the last year.
Lily looked out the window at Samantha and Joseph. Her face fell. “Samantha, Joseph. Come inside now,” she screamed through the window.
The sky had grown dark as a mushroom cloud grew in the distance. What is happening?
Samantha and Joseph ran into the house. They had begun to cry. “What is it mommy?”
Lily grabbed her kids and dove under the table. The windows shattered sending glass everywhere. The wave that hit their small home made it shake like it was made of jello. There was a crack from above and parts of the ceiling fell on top of the table they were under. Samantha and Joseph were screaming above the blaring sirens.
“Shhhh, its ok,” Lily said. Where are you Dan? You’re supposed to protect us. “Shhh.”
There was another loud crack and more of the ceiling fell. “We need to get out of here.” The shock and fear was starting to take over. Tears ran down Lily’s face. “Where are you, Dan?”
The kids struggled under her grip bringing her back.
“It’s ok,” Lily said.
The house groaned again. Lily looked around their once beautiful kitchen. The wall that faced the street had fallen in. Glass and debris were everywhere. Lily pulled the kids out from under the table toward the hole in the side of the house. They climbed slowly over what was left of the wall out into the yard. Her mouth dropped. She saw a second mushroom cloud that was much closer than the first. It rose high into the air, and appeared to be on fire.
Lily and the kids stared at the cloud in shock and horror.
Samantha tugged on her arm, “Mommy, where’s daddy?”
“I don’t know.”
The other houses on the street appeared to be worse off than their own. Many of them had collapsed completely. There were a few people coming out of the houses but not many. She could hear crying all around her. One woman looked at what used to be her house, wailing like a banshee. The sound made Lily more frightened than before. She started to walk.
The kids followed her as she climbed over rubble not knowing what or where to go. Dan would know what to do. Why hasn’t he come yet? She fell many times scraping her knees and hands. Blood had mixed with the dust that now fell from the sky like snow. Only it wasn’t clean and pure like snow but gray and dirty.
Joseph began to cry again but Lily didn’t seem to care. The shock had set in so deep she wasn’t much aware of anything anymore. She continued on aimlessly, occasionally shushing her children halfheartedly, only on reflex.
Her arms and legs grew weak as she climbed the endless piles of rubble. There’s no end. This is the end. Everything had been so good. We had finally been able to relax a little. I had hope. Now there is none.
Her legs gave out. She fell. She crawled to the top of the pile and collapsed. Not caring anymore she let herself roll down the other side landing in a heap at the bottom. The tears came freely as she lay on the hard asphalt.
Samantha and Joseph crawled next to her and lay down. She could feel their tears soak her shirt. I can’t go on, there’s no point. Her eyes were so heavy she could barely keep them open. The weight of the responsibility was too much for her to carry alone. She needed Dan. “Where are you?” she whispered.
What’s that? She rubbed her eyes. She smiled even though it caused her cracked lips to bleed. Hope flooded her heart. I can do this.
Lily wiped the grime and tears from her eyes and sat up pulling her kids close. She held their faces in the cup of her hands and smiled. “It will be ok. We will be ok.”
She pointed to the Daisy that still stood tall and proud among all the chaos.