Mia's Heart


Page 5



“Should we stay out here?” I ask him hesitantly.

He looks at the water and shrugs.

“We’re here now. Let’s just take a quick dive and then we’ll head in.”

I nod. “Fine with me.”

I pull my wet suit on over my bathing suit and slide the mask onto my face. Gavin lifts the oxygen tank onto my back.

Quinn watches us prepare.

“Is there anything I should be doing?” he asks.

Gavin shakes his head. “Nope. The boat is anchored, so you won’t go anywhere. We’ll be back up shortly.”

Quinn nods and Gavin grabs my hand and we jump over the side without hesitation.

It is instantly calm beneath the water.

It is exactly why I love to dive.

Nothing can reach us here in the quiet underwater world. No troubles, no stress, no worry.

My flippers slide through the water with ease, propelling me downward. My hands cut through the crystal blue water and Gavin is right beside me. I glance upward and I can still see the outline of the boat above. It looks like a giant whale from here.

I turn my attention back to the water below me.

I can just see the moss-covered tip of a mast of a sunken galleon when a strange sensation ripples through my body. I stop moving and the sensation grows.

It’s a rumbling vibration, a weird shaking.

It’s literally rolling through my body, like I’m sitting in a car with the bass turned up too loud.

I look at Gavin, my eyes wide. He is frozen too, floating in place in the water.

Our eyes meet.

And then we notice that the sandy sediment on the sea floor is rolling toward us in murky billows.

What the eff?

The water continues to vibrate and shake around us and the moment that I think the word shake, it occurs to me.

Earthquake.

Chapter Five

Gavin realizes it at the same moment that I do and we both spin and propel ourselves upwards.

HolyEffingEarthquake.

I burst from the surface of the water and grip the side of the boat and I can still feel the rumbling in the sea. In order for us to feel it all the way out here, the earthquake must be enormous. We haven’t had a big one in years and years, way before my lifetime.

Gavin pulls himself over the side and then reaches over to give me a hand. I land on the floor of the boat in a clumsy heap and instantly start pulling off my stuff. My flippers, wetsuit and oxygen tank land in a pile.

“What’s going on?” Quinn asks. He can see the anxiety on our faces and I’m sure he can see the vibrating water.

“Earthquake,” Gavin tells him. Gav isn’t even undressing, he’s turning the boat toward shore in his flippers, guiding the boat with capable hands.

Quinn looks startled and he stands up to look out at the horizon. But the rough water knocks him back down. He sprawls in a seat and stares at me in shock.

My heart thumps in my chest.

This isn’t good.

And from the look on Gavin’s face, the dead-serious expression that he never, ever gets, he knows it too. We’re right in the middle of a serious situation, maybe even dire.

I gulp.

As we race toward the shore, jumping hard over waves, my teeth jar every time we land. We hit the water so hard that I can’t believe the belly of the boat doesn’t splinter into pieces. I grit my teeth and hold on.

Quinn is silent now and I almost wonder what he’s thinking, but then I’m distracted by trying to hold on to the things that keep trying to fly out of the boat, like life preservers, bags, flippers and so on. I’ve never seen the current or waves so bad.

We fly into the bay and the way the boats are rolling on the waves as they sit in their slips is unnerving. They are haunting and spooky as they move with the sea. One of them has flipped onto its side and I know that it will sink. Water is flooding its deck. Debris is floating in the water; oars and cushions and cups and pieces of wood, and I am almost too afraid to look onto the shore.

But I do.

And I gasp.

The Harbor Master’s building is in rubble, in an absolute shambles.

And the complete seriousness of this hits us.

“Holy shit,” Gavin breathes. He reaches over and grabs my hand as he noses us into his slip. “We’ve got to move.”

“But where should we go?” I ask as we scramble from the boat and onto dry land. The ground is not moving, but after a moment, I feel a short rumble.

Aftershocks.

They vibrate my feet and I gulp.

Even the air feels scary, like a premonition or foreboding. Or something. I try to ignore it.

“I don’t know,” Gavin admits. He climbs up beside me, then releases my hand to help Quinn from the swaying boat. “Somewhere other than here.”

“We should stay together,” Quinn points out calmly.

He’s right. And I say so.

There’s no one else in the harbor, something that I find strange. Although, looking back, I realize that there wasn’t really anyone here when we left. Everyone else was smart enough to not venture into the waves.

Gavin’s cell phone rings and we look at each other, startled.

In the heat of the moment, we had forgotten that we had phones.

He picks it up and I can see the relief on his face as he talks to his mom. After a few moments, he hangs up and looks at me.

“My parents are fine. But the Earthquake was bad. Roads are blocked. My parents say to go to the Old Palace and wait there.”

I gulp.

With shaking fingers, I pull out my phone. I try my house and there is no answer. I try again, and this time, I get a weird busy signal.


This can’t be good.

“Gavin, I’ve got to go to my house,” I tell him.

He looks uncertain. “But my parents said we should wait at the Old Palace. I’m sure yours would want you to do the same thing. Your father is probably there.”

The Old Palace is the Capitol building of Caberra. It houses the courts, various government agencies and the Prime Minister’s residence and it is where our fathers work. It is located in the heart of Valese and it is in the exact opposite direction of my house from here.

Quinn steps forward. “Surely we can drive past Mia’s house on the way to the Old Palace,” he says. “It’s only a little out of the way, right?”

I am grateful for this. I am shaken and scared and it’s nice to have someone back me up. Although, I’m fairly certain that Gavin would have taken me anyway. He nods reluctantly now.

“Okay. If the roads are passable. We have to watch for downed power lines, though. We don’t want to get electrocuted.”

I gulp again. I have the feeling this is going to be a national disaster.

As we walk to Gavin’s car, a large black Land Rover, I try to call my house again. I get the weird busy signal again.

A heavy feeling settles in my stomach.

Something isn’t right at my house.

I know it right now.

We drive in silence and from the passenger seat, I stare at the carnage from my window. Houses are in rubble everywhere. Beautiful ancient buildings and shiny modern ones too.

This can’t be happening.

But it is.

Sirens wail and the entire scene seems to pass by in slow motion. I know it is because I’m in shock. And anyone would be in shock. Gavin seems to be, too. Quinn is quiet in the backseat and we watch people walking aimlessly. Everyone seems astounded. People are dirty, their clothing torn.

Our home country is a wreck.

“It’s probably a good thing we were on the water,” Gavin says quietly. “We weren’t in a building somewhere.”

And then it hits me.

My parents don’t know where I am.

I’m supposed to be in my room, but I left.

I left without telling them.

My heart lodges in my throat and the guilt is unbearable.

We are able to drive through the carnage and reach my house. But when we get to the electric gates, they won’t open when I punch in the code. And I realize that there must not be any power.

“Can you give me a boost?” I ask Quinn. He looks surprised.

“You want to climb over that?” He eyes the tall brick wall. “How will you get back over?”

I shrug. “I’ll figure out how to push the gate open.”

“I’m coming with you,” he says firmly, as he cups his hands for me to step into. I’m surprised, because he doesn’t know me or owe me anything. But I don’t say anything. I step into his hands and he vaults me over the wall. He quickly follows me, and Gavin after him. The three of us make our way up my long driveway and I can’t believe my eyes.

My house is in rubble.

Trees are down everywhere on the property and it truly looks like a warzone.

This.

Can’t.

Be.

Happening.

Everything is still and silent. And then there is another rumbling aftershock and I can’t help but gasp. The sound is noisy in the silence.

This is freaking insane. My crumbled house is like an eerie ghost town.

“It’s going to be fine,” Quinn tells me quietly. His presence is calming. I hadn’t noticed that before, but it is true. “I promise.”

“How can you promise that?” I ask him. “You don’t know.”

“I do know.” He nods confidently.

But I don’t feel so confident.

Everything is spookily calm and quiet. I don’t see my mom or even the servants, which is odd. It’s only been half an hour since the quake. This causes a heavy feeling to lodge in my throat. Where are they?

I push through the rubble of my front door and find that everything is knocked down in my house. The walls, the ceiling, the doors. Wires are hanging haphazardly, chandeliers look hauntingly gaunt and skeletal as they hang limply in the air.

“Mom?” I call out. My voice seems small in this silent chaos.

“Adrianna?” Gavin yells.

No answer.

I plow forward, pushing broken and jagged things out of my way.

Quinn grabs my arm.

“Be careful,” he warns me. “There could be exposed wires.”

I gulp.

Then continue on.

My mom would have looked for me in this mess. She wouldn’t have left, because she would think that I was under the rubble in my room. Because my room is where I’m supposed to be.

My heart is heavy as I head down what is left of the hallway leading to my room.

There is no noise here but for the crackle and pop of debris.

“Mom?” I call again, but my voice doesn’t contain any hope. Because if my mother is here, she is unable to answer and I don’t want to speculate on why that might be.

“Mia,” Gavin says uncertainly as the building rumbles and moans around us. “We shouldn’t be here. This isn’t safe.”

Even as he speaks, a piece of the hallway wall tumbles in front of us and Quinn yanks me out of the way.

“Let’s go,” Gavin urges me. His eyes are anxious.

“Just a minute,” I insist. “I just have to look inside of my room. That’s where she would have gone.”

“You have one minute,” Gavin says firmly. I nod and he stays right on my heels. Quinn still has my elbow. And everything is a blur.

I’m numb as I creep into the wreckage that used to house all of my most precious and personal things. Everything is in a mess now, all broken and torn and dirty. My bed is nonexistent. My clothing is scattered on the floor. I can’t even fathom how strong this earthquake must have been to have done this much damage.

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