Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A girl walks into a coffee shop

A girl walks into a coffee shop and orders a latte, which she carries to a small table on a brick sidewalk outside the building and starts to read her new novel when a distinct rumbling causes her to think that a train must be coming.  The brick wall of the coffee shop is shaking and the girl thinks it must be a very big train indeed or a truck or... the ground starts moving in sharp, angry jerks and the girl thinks, "Holy shit," and she jumps up and moves away from the building at the very same moment that everybody else at all the other tables also jump up and step away from the building, and the coffee shop proprietor runs out of the shop and says, "It's an earthquake!" and they all look at each other and laugh happily as if an earthquake was the very thing they had hoped would happen that day.

It occurs to the girl that she ought to check on her children only her phone makes a strange sound when she tries to make a call and she realizes that all the people around her are punching the buttons on their phones and frowning and back at work no one can use their phones but the internets is working so they all search for news and the girl learns that there is no 911 service and that the earthquake had a 5.8 magnitude and was centered 25 miles away, that it was felt as far away as Detroit and Toronto (it woke the girl's brother in Buffalo) and that the nuclear power plant located very close to the epicenter was shut down.

The girl thinks that an earthquake in the middle of a work day is pleasantly diverting, indeed it is so excessively diverting that it is nearly impossible to get any more work done.  Later, the street in front of her office is blocked with fire trucks because of a ruptured gas line and it's time to go home and the ruptured gas line lies directly across the girl's path but she finds a way.

At home, the children are fine.  The boy had a dramatic  experience clinging to a stone wall which he had been in the act of climbing--his two friends fell off, but this boy is tenacious.  The wall is the boundary of a 200 year old cemetery and the boy witnessed the tombstones heaving and shifting--an awesome earthquake experience for a twelve year old.  By the time he gets around to telling this story to his grandchildren, he will have the corpses popping out of the ground.  A moderate earthquake on the last day of summer vacation is a gift from the gods.

The girl checks her house for damage and she discovers some!  A bag of pasta and a box of Zone bars have been knocked to the ground from the pantry shelf.  They lie on the dining room floor, reproachful.   Nobody picks them up.


  1. I'm glad you got your coffee before it hit--and that the damages were easy to clean up once you got home.
    I am amazed your boy clung to the rock during it. Wow. Tenacious indeed!

  2. we lost an empty glass milk bottle causing one of my friends to say accusingly, "if you had plastic like the rest of us, that wouldn't have happened!"

  3. Patience,
    We're glad the earthquake didn't cause any damage. We're in the Midwest and we felt a slight tremor here! We enjoyed reading your post. ~Brittany @ZonePerfect

  4. Love it! I hate to say it, but a small earthquake would be a most welcome diversion in my books, too. (And I'd have corpses popping from the ground also.)