Written by Siyu Chen
Earned a Gold Key Mention in the 2021 Scholastic Art and Writing Competition
2 pm: She walks into a convenience store. This will be the first meal of her day. The fan is turning, the TV is playing, the cashier is talking, but all of these noises she ignores.
2:10: He walks out of the classroom; the kids behind him have already got up from their chairs, talking and laughing as they follow behind him. When he reaches the main office, he can’t find his phone anywhere. He normally puts it in the first drawer on the right hand side of his desk when he goes to classes. And then he laughs when he realizes it’s right in his pocket, and has been there this whole time.
2:20: Finally, she finds an available seat. Through the window she sees a plane flying over the sky. A sense of relief covers her when she closes her eyes and imagines being on that flight, traveling mile after mile to see him. She’ll be on a plane soon…for that very purpose.
2:28: Suddenly, he feels the floor shake. The walls move back and forth, almost curling right in front of him, giving way to the ceiling that starts to fall down mercilessly. He rushes into the hallway where Students shriek and run around him. Heavy pieces of concrete collapse and block the stairs as he runs in the opposite direction towards the smoke.
2:35: The commercial on TV is cut off, and a news reporter appears on the screen. As if time is frozen, all other noises fade away leaving only the voice of the reporter. “Just a few minutes ago, at 14:28 China Standard Time, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake was measured in Wenchuan, Sichuan…”
With trembling hands, she pulls her phone out and dials his number.
“Beep——” her heart beats violently.
“Beep——” her hand clenches over her mouth.
“Beep——” her tears drop into the lunch box. “You have reached the voicemail box of…”
He doesn’t know what time it is. At the last second of his memory, he had pushed kids out of the building, and the next second, the ceiling had fallen on him. Tears, sweat, and blood all mixed together. He wants to stand up, get himself to safety, but there is no feeling in his lower body. He tries to shout, but there is no voice in his throat. Slowly, he grabs his phone from his pocket…
Years later, people hold touch screen phones wherever they go, and she is no exception. When adding and deleting becomes so simple, she still keeps the last text message from him:
May 12, 2008
Will you marry me, if I survive this?