Life in a Box

Inspiration Monday challenge by be kind rewrite:

Life in a Box

It sounded like a jet engine was starting up in my room. As I rubbed my eyes and tried to gain consciousness the rumblings were joined by a sudden jolt which threw me from my bed. The jolting continued as the room began to roll and shake all at the same time. I didn’t know whether to get up and run or crawl under the bed and hide. I decided upon the later. As all my possessions were thrown from their rightful places I could hear explosions outside the simple guesthouse in which I had called home for just under a week. I shut my eyes tight and even as a lifelong sceptic I began to pray. The modest bed danced on the concrete floor threatening to expose me. Then the walls began to give way followed by the ceiling. I was being buried alive. I thought of my dad pleading with me to not to leave home and my mother weeping as she waved goodbye at the airport. I wanted to be with them more than anything at that moment.

I was terrified. It all seemed to last an eternity but in reality it was only about half a minute. Then as suddenly as it started it finished. I could hear the chaos going on outside. In the blackness I felt around me to find a way out. There was nothing but debris, I had survived unharmed but I was boxed in. I called out for help but nobody heard me.

I lay there listening to the sounds outside. I had only just left the clinic where I had agreed to do my nursing exchange and had laid down for a nap. I brought five years of sexual health training with me but was still emotionally unprepared for the scenes I had witnessed in my short time in Haiti. The clinic was located just outside Port-au-Prince. I was meant to be there for three months.

I was sure at least two days had passed. My stomach rumbled and I knew I had never really experienced thirst before. I kept shouting for help but I knew there was never any coming. This was going to be my grave.

I shifted my position under the bed and continued trying to move some of the rubble from in front of me, I was losing strength and this was a laborious task. Every aftershock threatened my progress. I was piling the debris next to me. I had discovered the bookshelf had made a lean-to shape near the bed so it was my goal to try to get out and under that because it would give me more space. As I pulled at a chunk of cement I was relieved when I saw my rucksack made visible from the sliver of light that was shining down from the collapsed ceiling. I pushed my body within reach and snatched it. I was grateful to find a pack of granola bars and bottle of water were still inside. I wanted to drink the water all in one go but limited myself to a few sips.

Just when I was about to give up, they came for me, it took them five days but they came for me all the same. I could hear them outside moving the debris. I shouted with what strength I had left just so they knew I was there. As daylight stung my eyes I could see the devastation all around. I was overwhelmed with sadness. The people I had come to love in such a short period of time had lost so much.


About Billie Jo Schinnerer

Born and raised on the edge of the Helderberg Escarpment in eastern New York. Formerly a primary and middle school teacher. Moved to the North West area of England in 2003. Now a mother of three and a wannabe author.
This entry was posted in Flash Fiction Stories and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Life in a Box

  1. oh man, that caught me from the first few sentences and by the end i was nearly in tears. you write with emotion just as i do. it is nice to know that those who have told me it is not done these days were oh so very, very wrong.

    never, ever let anyone take that from you. do not become like other writers who leech their stories of emotion, color and life simply to please the masses.

    you have a special gift, cherish it.

    marantha jenelle

    • I always feel closer to emotional characters in books but I guess that is because life is full of emotion, my own included. I certainly write with my feelings! I am glad you liked it! Thank you for the comments.

  2. I love the details in her thoughts – the lifelong skeptic, praying, and wishing for her family. Very real. Very powerful.

  3. pattisj says:

    “…I had never really experienced thirst before.” I had to go get a glass of water! Very realistic.

  4. Janel says:

    Very powerful. The feelings of terror, helplessness and then desperation really shined through in this piece. I was holding my breath, hoping the narrator would be saved.

  5. A poignant piece about a great tragedy. Well written.

  6. I can’t imagine having to go through this kind of ordeal. You portrayed it so well. I felt like I was there living it.
    …”I lay there listening to the sounds outside…”. Help so close but so far away. What a feeling it must be. And for those who hear someone getting so close to finding them…then thinking no one is there and moving on.
    She was one of the fortunate ones.

    • It must have been an awful thing to have lived through. I read stories of people who survived after nearly two weeks of being buried under rubble. It shows how strong humans can be.

  7. Pingback: Inspiration Monday X « BeKindRewrite

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