After hearing the breaking news of an earthquake shaking San Francisco by its roots, I immediately took a plane from Phoenix, Arizona to the damaged city. Once my flight had ended with the plane's wheels hitting the ground, I was told to head back to Arizona.
"Sir, you have to head back! We can't risk any more lives!" a police officer at the airport demanded from me. Refusing, I pushed myself past the officers, made my way through the airport's doors, and took sight of jagged streets and leaping flames in my path.
I'm here to help them! I reminded myself, staring into the fire with fear still flashing in my eyes. Taking another look at my milieu, my heart's pace quickened when I took sight of a collapsed building. I almost wished I had enough money to purchase a camera, although I probably would have destroyed it soon enough.
The area ahead of me may have been fraught with danger and destruction, but it was also at the same time very barren. Not a single person was to be seen in this area—dead or alive.
Making my way to Market Street, I took sight of many damaged cars, as well as burning factories that bled into the red-orange sky. Just when I made an attempt to walk toward the factory, a weak screech split my ears. Startled, I turned myself around to realize that the screech had seemed to come from under a rolled-over, tan car.
Heading in the direction I believed I had heard the screech sound from, another one sounded—this one not as powerful as the last. Once I approached the tipped car, I looked down to notice a filthy, bloodied hand trying to grip onto the cracked concrete. Alarmed, I bent over to see a severely-injured young woman under the car.
A jolt of surprise shook me just before I told the woman, "Grab on to my hand!" Slowly, her hand—bludgeoned and moist from sweat and blood—held onto mine as I triumphantly pulled her out from underneath the car.
As I pulled the woman out, I was able to take a closer look at her face. Her eyes gave off a hazel color, her brown hair tied up into a ball. I was soon able to take a look at her clothing, a white dress covering her until a torn skirt just barely covered her knees. When her feet came out from under the car, I noticed a white shoe covering her left foot, only a dusty sock covering her right. Although she was weak, I had a feeling that her emotions were filled with much volatility.
"Who are you?" I asked her just before pulling her up on her feet.
Grunting, the young woman replied, "Ella." Almost knocking off my feet, she lost the strength to stand when she leaned against me. Holding her just below her arms, I assured Ella, "I'm Alex. Don't worry; I'll get you out of here!"
I helped Ella walk once we had each of our arms wrapped over our shoulders. Slowly and carefully, I tried to keep my pace up with hers when I asked her, "What were you doing down there, anyway?" A pause of silence occurred as I wondered if she would respond.
Sighing, Ella blinked just before telling me glumly, "After the earthquake shook the city, I had to take my injured boyfriend to the doctor's. While I was driving, my car must have tripped on a crack, flipping it over." I notice a tear roll down her cheek after speaking these words. I assumed that her boyfriend must have suffocated under the car.
Walking with our pace increasing slightly, an acrid scent slowly made its way toward us. Once the odor caused our eyes to water slightly, Ella wrinkled her nose, as did I. This scent was drawing forth from an almost unaccountable number of deceased bodies being torched by flame.
"There's the Nob Hill," Ella explained with a stronger voice than what I had ever heard her speak in before. Her head was held up high as her sight drew to the hill. I noticed her gaze slowly darken at the sight of the former rich people's homes burning. It was almost likely that a friend of hers had owned a house up there. For all I knew, she could have lived there!
Seeing our way through the jagged streets, Ella and I were able to make our way to safety. With all of the fallen buildings, leaping flames, and deceased bodies, it was a sure thing that changes would soon be brought upon the city.
Once we were back at the airport, Ella rested her weary legs as she took a seat upon a bench. I sat next to her, her brow twitching as another tear rolled down her cheek. He turned her gaze toward me and asked, "He's dead, isn't he?"
I wanted to ask Ella who she was talking about for a second, but I then realized that she was talking about her boyfriend. I sighed, looking down at my feet, then had our gazes meet when I replied, "Yes."
Ella gave a small wail just before covering her face with her filthy hands. A pang of sorrow spread through me, as I had never before had an experience where one who was so close to me was lost in a tragic accident.
Taking a step toward her, I told Ella, "Although I don't know exactly how it feels to lose someone so close to you, you have to realize that you are not alone. The city will move on and become better than what it was last week. You must move forward."
Sniffling, Ella removed her face from her hands when a warm smile was placed on her face. "Thank you, Alex. If it weren't for you I would still be under my own car—probably dead by now."
A pause occurred as Ella gave a deep breath. "And you're right; I have to keep on moving forward." Another pause occurred—this one shorter than the last—when Ella broke the silence when she told me, "Since I'm at this airport, I may as well visit my mother in Toledo. I'll never forget you, Alex."