Alice Kenendy, Grade 8, Geelong College -
Suddenly she heard an unmistakeably loud crash from the bottom of the stairwell, and a fast, deep rushing sound.
It was coming in.
There was no time to run step by step. She lunged forward, reaching the sixth floor just as she heard the wave crash and tumble to the fifth floor, swallowing up all her parent’s hard work. Their lives of work were being eaten alive by the thing they’d always trusted, the ocean waters.
The wave was right behind her now. It was chasing her tail, and any other human being would already have been crushed in the jaws of the monster. But she, she ran faster than anyone before, this little girl of five. The water was at her heels now, and as she reached half-way to the 7th floor, she began to scream for the life of her parents.
“Get out! Get out! Wave! Wave coming! JUMP!”
Charging up the last few stairs, feeling her legs and arms twist and burn, she burst into her parent’s office just as the wave grabbed at her ankles and swept her off her feet. Lying on the floor, completely drained of any energy, she felt the cruel, harsh waters of the wave pick her up and begin to slowly twist and crush her frail body.
There was no-one else in the office.
Only her head remained above the water, and as her gaze began to fade, she saw a large, adult-sized hole in the glass window.
They’d heard. They were safe.
But there was nothing she could do above her own life. She didn’t take into consideration the height of the building, and the fact that there were no escape routes above the first floor. But, that didn’t matter now. She knew in her heart of hearts that her parents were safe, because of her. She hoped, wherever they were, that they knew she was OK, she would be OK, as long as she died knowing her parents were out there somewhere.
Taking one last breath, she felt the water rise over her head and into her ears and surround her whole body. But she didn’t struggle. She didn’t hold her breath. She closed her eyes peacefully and let the water take her over, get inside her body and steal the life from her. As she blew her last breath out of her nose and into the churning waters, she felt the spirits above take her, and she smiled.
It would all be OK.