Chapter 1 - Zachariah's point of view
It was a disaster. I didn’t know what to do. Debris was strewn all over the ground, piling up as high as mountains, although instead of feeling tranquil, I felt guilty. Houses that once stood tall were on their knees, accepting defeat before fulfilling their purpose. Small bubbles of people were crying over their deceased, whom were smeared with blood, mud and other dark substances – how they were discernible to them, I had no idea. My family had parted with death two decades ago, my feelings of affection incomplete…pain being my companion. I treaded lightly, masking my presence as much as I could. I surveyed the level of damage that threatened to suffocate me; vehicles, people, buildings, everything, had been subjected to the tsunami’s wrath.
Abruptly, a loud piercing scream ripped through the air of quiet murmurings. Intrigued by this, I ducked below some of the ill supported wooden planks, that had long served as a gate. The scene afore my eyes stopped me dead in my tracks. The sight softened my heart, a powerful emotion engulfing me: empathy. I watched, helplessly as a heavily pregnant woman kneeled beside a disfigured corpse, my attention shifting to her trembling hand, which reached out to his lifeless one. I noted her fingers lingering on the small wedding band, which was encrusted with dried blood. She stopped shaking, her body so still that I doubt she was still breathing. For the final time, she lifted his hand, placing it onto her large stomach, a small smile breaking out as dozens of tears streaked past her face. Her glossy, sapphire eyes skimmed the surroundings, before resting on me, shock plastering momentarily on her face. She stayed silent for several moments, her face screwed in concentration as she looked at her husband. I was about to speak, but she cut me to it.
“Could you help me?” Her broken voice reverberated in my ears. It was more than enough to get me to spring into action. I looked around, noting some stretcher bearers not too far off. I waved my hands above my head as forcefully as possible. A distant shout surfed through the eerily silent air; three stretcher bearers came running in our direction. I offered her a hand, hoisting her up gently, as she rested a hand onto her back. I moved backwards, giving the young men some space. However, she remained glued to the spot, her eyes on the corpse. I latched a hand on her shoulder, moving her back so the body could be moved. She soon started to walk, with me trailing not too far back as she kept her eyes trained on the defunct bodies, barely acknowledging the rubble that had defiantly made its place around us.
The townhall seemed untouched, the large building standing in all its glory, overlooking the ruin. The frontline emergency workers were scattered all over the place, dodging in and out of vans and running past to collect supplies from the helicopter. Those that were seriously injured were being carried towards another, larger helicopter, the uproarious sound of the blades slicing through the panic-stricken air, drowning out the crying and the screams from the cremations that were taking place a few feet to our left.
A sudden movement from my right brought my attention to the female I was with. I hurriedly seated her onto a bench, a worker running towards me, handing a bottle of mineral water and some packaged food. A few females hurried to where we were, doing check-ups and checking to see if she was still ok. Meanwhile, I walked around, speaking with the victims, doing my best to inspirit them, which proved to be hard, as their powerful feelings of loss were slowly suffocating me, the air too thick to inhale. I returned to the woman I had left some time ago, seeing that all the nurses were all leaving her, turning to give me a thumbs up. I smiled, seating myself next to her, waiting for her to speak. Guessing from her behaviour from earlier, she must have had a hard time trusting people, explaining why she thought so hard about asking for help.
“Thank you, I apologise for not introducing myself. My name is Isabelle Ryder.” By now, I had fully turned to face her. “My name is Zachariah Wilson.” She smiled and we turned to look forward, sitting in a comfortable silence.
Isabelle’s point of view
We sat there quietly, but I was inclined to speak, just for the sake of it, as my husband had limited my contact with the outside world. “So how come you have come here? I haven’t seen you here before.” He turned, looking towards the reclining sea. I took the time to notice his beautiful, jet black curls, which playfully moved with the wind. He faced me, locking his enchanting green eyes onto mine.
“I am the leader of this country. I heard of this and came down as soon as possible, bringing as many supplies and workers as I could. By the way, what is your job?” His head inclined slightly to the side. I was shocked but managed to regain my posture. I definitely wasn’t expecting to be talking to the leader of Dalia.
“I am an interior designer.” He smiled, seconds later, his eyes lit up.
“Wait, so you were the one who had accepted that challenge of designing a one thousand room hotel in a month?” I nodded. “That was really impressive with a simple yet highly sophisticated finish. I feel honoured to have finally made your acquaintance Ms Ryder.”
“No please, you can call me Isabelle.” He nodded and I smirked; however, it was a short-lived moment, with a new batch of dead bodies being brought in.
A familiar ring and bracelet caught my eye, draining the blood from my face, my heart loudly reverberating in my ears, my airways constricting. My voice had a mind of its own, shrieking and begging the men to leave them be, doing my best to persuade them that they will stand on their feet again. It was of no use. I stood up from my seat, ignoring my current plight and moving quickly, however, a treacherous track of mud deceived me, slipping in the opposite direction. I closed my eyes, waiting for the fall, but it never came.
A pair of strong arms gently, yet firmly, wrapped their arms around my middle, two muscular hands rubbing my back in small, circular motions. Though this motion was simple, it spread warmth through me, despite the agony that I was going through. Unable to watch, I buried my head into his chest, unable to see the tears of all those, who had also lost their loved ones, who were silently dying as they watched their loved ones depart. Instead, I focused on his strong scent of frankincense and cedarwood, which managed to calm me greatly. Slowly, the live bodies around us melted away, leaving the both of us standing in close proximity.
Having stood for so long, my knees were ready to buckle, my lower back screaming for mercy. Unable to support my heavy form, my legs collapsed, and before long, I was towed back to the bench. He sat next to me, a hand rubbing small circles onto my back as I breathed deeply to end my panic attack. During this time, my eyes were fixated on the clump of ash, eyes glued to his silver wedding band. Happy memories flooded my mind, remembering all the tender moments that were shared between us. My breath hitched in my throat, tears threatening to fall, as discomfort made its home in my chest.
Zachariah’s point of view
I observed her gaze, seeing that her attention was on the wedding band. I rose from my position, moving to collect it. I ignored the blood that garnished the cool metal, handing it over to her, who whirled the ring around, gently brushing her forefinger across the engraving. Tears cascaded down her face and simultaneously, tiny droplets of rain steadily fell, quickly picking up pace before attacking us with fast, cold bullets.
“We should head inside, the rain isn’t good for you,” I advised, gesturing towards her stomach. She nodded, sticking a handout. I smiled, enveloping the miniscule hand into my larger one. We walked in a comfortable silence as I mentally prepared myself to face my people’s backlash.
Isabelle’s point of view
Voluntary workers were stationed at the entrance of the building, offering warm smiles as we trudged on. The interior was beautiful, a large, intricate fresco looking down on us, cream columns supporting the high ceiling. Temporary hospital beds were set out, large curtains concealing various families. The furthest corner was the most appealing, large plump pillows sat jauntily at the centre. I settled down, my swollen feet still stinging from today’s strenuous activity.
“Isabelle, I need to make an announcement…” I nodded, and he turned, walking towards the centre of the hall.