Shaken City

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(Edited)


Friends of this beautiful and sensitive community of writers.
This is my entry to @theinkwell's weekly call.


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Own Drawing

Shaken City


It was a quiet morning at the beginning of 1929.

Amelia was in the sunny house with its long patios. Doing what she did every day.

She had already returned from the beach, where she had gone with her teenage daughter to fetch fresh fish for breakfast. On the way she had met neighbours and friends with whom she exchanged the usual chats. He had received the news; a couple of runaway lovers, an argument over an inheritance, the death of an old man.

The village news was being shared with her sister and her mother while she gathered the dry leaves of the tireless fruit trees, in the warmth of the morning. As they listened the other women came and went, preparing food.

In a house next door a bitter argument between a father and a teenage girl began to be heard. The father was refusing permission and the theatrical teenage girl was shouting that she was very unhappy, the father asked her what she wanted, she replied:

"What I want is to be swallowed up by the earth!"

Then the infernal noise began. An immense explosion that seemed to come from the sky, a noise never heard before, a colossal thunder that split the air and left people unconscious, paralysed, but with their eyes wide open.

In a matter of seconds the catastrophic explosion changed to an eerie rumbling coming out of the earth. Before Amelia's eyes the earth began to ripple, carrying with it, in its movement, the pile of dry leaves. She searched with her eyes for her daughter and saw her running out of the house, trying to run into the yard. She could not move forward; with each step the moving earth returned her to the previous spot, giving her attempt to walk the appearance of a pathetic mimicry. Framing the young woman, the walls and ceilings swayed like branches in the wind.

The screams began.

Earthquake! Earthquake! Earthquake! Earthquake!

It was a terrible chorus. In the house next door, something else was being shouted.

"The earth is swallowing her up! The earth is swallowing her!

It was only ten seconds. Ten seconds in which the earth ceased to be a mother and became the most terrifying, roaring, kinetic monster.

After the shuddering stopped, seconds of silence followed in Amelia's house. The family managed to gather in the courtyard and embrace, touching each other, checking each other, looking into each other's eyes.

In the house next door the clamour resurfaced, now in the form of a litany, in the form of weeping.

"The earth swallowed her, the earth swallowed her!"

Amelia's father jumps over the dividing fence, as he runs he goes shouting for a pick and shovel. The family gives him what he has asked for.

When they hand it over, they find him, next to the teenager's father, digging in the earth with his hands. With the tools they manage to rescue her, she is fainting and they carry her to the street, where the whole neighbourhood has gathered.

All is chaos, screaming and running. From the beach comes the shocking news, shouted by people on the run.

They say that the water receded two hundred metres from the sea and returned with a six-metre high wave.

A hallucinated fisherman says he was completely engulfed by the wave.

"I could see it coming head-on like a huge showcase of water, full of fish!"

Voices overlapped in disharmony:

"The theatre has fallen!"

"There's not a house left in front of the beach!"

"The sand is full of dead people!"

"The clock of the main temple stopped at thirty-two minutes past seven!"

"God has punished us!"

Gradually the cries turn to whispers, to faint wailings.

Already the telegraphs have transmitted the news of the tragedy and the whole country mourns.

The jailer of the great poet of the city, many miles away, rejoices to deliver the bad news to the bard.

A great earthquake has shattered the city.

On the night of that seventeenth of January, in the first-born city of the continent, people are no longer running, they are just praying, they are still.



Thanks for reading

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@gracielaacevedo



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18 comments
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A very powerful story! I couldn't stop reading it. The girl will forever wonder if she called this tragedy upon her city. She certainly got her wish, didn't she?

Thank you for a gripping story @gracielaacevedo :)

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Hello, @wrestlingdesires ! Thank you for this visit!
Yes, sometimes people say things without knowing that they can be fulfilled, who knows if their destiny was to call that earthquake!!!
My story is the account of a historical fact. The real thing is very interesting.

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A young girl was literally swallowed by the earth after asking for it to happen? This is a story that everyone with a short temper should read!

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Be careful what you wish for
But she got saved, sadly not so many others
Will this be a lesson?

I enjoyed the read :D

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For that young woman it was surely a lesson for life, @kaerpediem.
In that earthquake there were more than 1800 deaths. It was a great tragedy.
Thank you for reading me

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A masterpiece, @gracielaacevedo. Once again you deliver a piece of historical fiction which captures not only the moment but the humanity of the people who lived in the moment. Your connecting the poor girl's wish with the earth's opening is a great illustration of how myths and legends begin. Your writing is evocative and the voice in which you tell the tale is perfectly suited to the events.

Congratulations on a great story.

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Thank you for this generous comment, @theinkwell !
I love this genre that allows us to retell the story from the human side! Really the most outstanding element is the scream of the young girl who was contingent on the beginning of the earthquake. After almost a century the story of this young woman can be found in the testimonies about the earthquake.

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I am addicted to your historical fiction. You do have a sense of the past that is palpable. And you have a talent for breathing life into characters who are figures in our collective past.

Extremely well done.

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Hello dear @agmoore! Thank you very much for your words. I think that regardless of the times, men keep the same fears and desires. That's the point where I place myself to imagine them.

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What a beautiful and richly told story, @gracielaacevedo. I will make sure I never request that the earth swallow me up!

I have a terrible fear of earthquakes, as I have experienced some very large ones. I moved away from California because of the earthquakes. I now live in a part of the country where the risk is very very low.

Really enjoyed your story. I'm so glad the girl survived.

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Greetings, dear @jayna. Yes, having heard what happened after saying those words one should be careful never to repeat them. One really shouldn't succumb to saying such things.
The city I am talking about is on a geological fault line, but there are really no repeated episodes of tremors that one feels....
Yes, I was looking out for that girl as I wrote, she grew up and had offspring, but she never fought with her father again.

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I was first captured by the way you described the beginning of the day. Something about this description sucked me right into the telling of this story. It was very picturesque, even though it was simply told. The best way to reach all level of reader! How clever to add that human piece to the history - by bringing in the foreshadowing of the teenager begging to be swallowed up. And all this right before a true earthquake! You've brought the past to life!

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Thank you very much for reading this thoughtful comment @stormcharmer.
The teenage girl element works very well to keep some of the attention on the reading. It's really a very theatrical device, which some people can relate to. Tragedies that come from nature are very appealing to me I feel, they reveal the ambivalence between the beautiful and the terrible in nature.

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Yes, I agree. It's how I feel about storms. They are quite powerful and intimidating, but so very beautiful also.

It's a good thing I know how to charm them 😅

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