Authors: Susan Griscom
by Susan Griscom
(A collection of short stories with a twist)
Whisper Cape Series, writing as Regan Walsh
Cape, Book 1
, Book 3 (2013)
in the United States by Amber Glow Books.
rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner
whatsoever without written permission of the author except in the case of brief
quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. This e-book is licensed
for your personal enjoyment only. Please do not participate in or encourage
piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.
© 2012 by Susan Griscom
Aftershock is a work of fiction.
very first scene in this book is based on an earthquake I experienced as a
teenager. Adela's emotions and actions in that scene are from what I remember.
The rest of the book is entirely fiction. All names, characters, places, and
incidences are products of my imagination. Any resemblance to actual events,
locales or persons living or deceased, is entirely coincidental.
design: Robin Ludwig Design Inc.
Michele T. Green
To all the men, women,
and children whose lives have been lost due to one of mother nature’s natural
disasters and to all the brave rescue people involved in helping those who
survived. A special thought to the ones left behind struggling to rebuild their
lives or cope with the loss of a loved one.
An enormous amount of shaking
jerked me awake.
My freaking bed was
bouncing underneath me. A deep growl from somewhere below rose to a violent rumbling,
rocking me and everything else around in my bedroom. I bolted up in my bed not really
fully awake enough to comprehend exactly what was going on. My eyes darted to
the swaying floor lamp threatening to tumble over in the corner. For a moment,
I sat frozen, unable to move as I watched my silver jewelry box slide off my
dresser and crash to the floor. Bracelets, earrings, and necklaces scattered
over the hardwood surface.
Shoving the covers
aside, I jumped out of bed and tripped over the blankets hanging from the side
of the mattress, falling on my hands and knees in my haste to get to my parents’
room. I picked my wobbly self up and took off toward their doorway, colliding with
my dad. We held on to one another to steady ourselves from the swaying movement
of the rumbling house.
My little sister
screeched from down the hall, “What’s happening, what’s happening?!” I glanced
toward the sound of her piercing squeal, which only fueled the deafening roar
with more hysteria.
“Go to your mother.” My
dad shoved me in the direction of their king-sized bed as he took off toward
the room my four-year-old sister and brother shared.
I jumped into my mom’s
out-stretched arms and we huddled together in the center of the bed. For a
split second I thought,
are we at war?
It may have been a stupid notion,
but you’d be surprised at what flips through your mind in the middle of a disaster.
I didn’t know what war felt like, but I was positive it had to be something
My mom’s arms wrapped
tighter around my shoulders, the bed bouncing and rocking beneath us as I tried
to think who might be bombing us. Because, if we were being bombed, surely that
big blast of light would come at any minute and it would all be over. Somehow,
through my fear I wracked my brain trying to remember which countries possessed
nuclear weapons. North Korea came to mind, a topic we’d discussed at length in history
class only last week.
The bedroom windows shook
and rattled and I thought they would explode any second. A crashing sound came from
somewhere else in the house and the earsplitting shatter of glass rang in my head.
As my mom and I huddled together, I stared out the large sliding glass door
leading to the swimming pool. Traces of the early morning sun made things
barely visible as water sloshed around, spilling over the edge. The surrounding
pavement rippled in waves.
The bedside lamp toppled
over and I almost jumped out of my skin when the bulb exploded as it hit the
This is it
. I was sure my life was over.
My father shouted from
down the hall, “They’re okay!”
My mom sighed,
squeezing her arms around my body even tighter and whispering close to my ear,
“It’s an earthquake.”
“An earthquake?” I wasn’t
quite sure which was worse, being blown to smithereens or swallowed by the
earth as it cracked wide open. Maybe the roof would cave in and crush us to
death. Not that it mattered.
Dead is dead
In what seemed like an
eternity of seconds later, the shaking stopped.
The roaring and
rumbling ceased and quiet settled around us except for my sister’s whimpering
and my dad’s soothing voice.
The sudden stillness
as if it was only temporary and the shaking and rumbling would
start up again any second.
My mom cupped my face
in her hands and made me look in her eyes. “Are you okay, Adela?” Her voice had
the uncanny ability to soothe me even in a nerve-wracking situation like this.
Maybe that’s why my dad called her Angel, aside from the fact that it was short
for Angelica. Angelica Castielle … sort of had a solacing ring to it, I always
I nodded and swiped
away the uncontrollable tears rolling down my cheeks.
“Come on, let’s go see
the twins.” We got up from the bed and walked down the hall to the twins’ room.
Aaron, my little brother and Ambrosia, my little sister sat on the bottom bunk;
our dad between them, his big hand fluffing Aaron’s hair. His broad smile
lightened the situation as he glanced up at my mom and me. Aaron studied his
fingers, twisting them in his red Superman blanket and Ambrosia sniffled
against Dad’s broad chest.
“There, it’s all over
now,” he cooed softly and squeezed them close.
My mom took a step
toward them and they jumped into her arms. I hung back, leaning against the
door, too devastated at the sight of the toys and decorations that had fallen
off the shelves and now lay strewn about on the floor. A picture of me and the
twins my mom had made us pose for last Christmas lay face up on the floor, the
glass of the frame broken into a million tiny pieces. I tried to swallow the
lump in my throat. The last thing the twins needed was to see me cry.
“Look, Mommy, my fire
truck ladder.” Aaron’s bottom lip protruded slightly, but he managed to keep his
tough boyish bravado in check as he held two halves of a white plastic ladder
in his hands.
“Give it here, pal. I
think I can glue it.” Aaron handed the two pieces of the ladder to my dad and sat
back down beside him on the bed.
Dad patted Aaron on the
head and stood, approached me, and placed his fingers under my chin as I lifted
my eyes to his. “Okay, Dely?”
Words stuck in my
throat and a sob threatened, so I only nodded.
He smiled but his eyes
stayed firm and serious as he walked out of the room. I turned and ran after
him. “Dad, what about the horses?” I asked, struggling to clear the sob from my
“I’m gonna get dressed
and check on them now.”
“I want to come.”
“I think your mother
needs you here.”
“Dad, please? Big Blue needs
me. The earthquake had to scare him. He’ll be so frightened. Please.”
This time, his dark
eyes smiled along with his mouth. “Okay, Adela. But once we see he’s okay, you’re
back here, helping your mother.”
“Okay, I promise.” I
sprinted to my room and stopped in the doorway, taking in the horrible sight.
My favorite picture lay on the floor. I picked it up and turned it over before
placing it back on the dresser. Luckily, there wasn’t a scratch on it. My mom
had taken it two years ago at my fifteenth birthday party. Max and I had just
had a cake fight, and we smiled for the camera with our heads close together,
faces smudged with chocolate frosting. I loved that picture; it represented one
of the happiest times in my life. I turned to grab the pants I’d left draped
over the back of the glider in the corner of my room, a habit that always
invoked a threat of donation to Goodwill by my mother. On my way, I tripped
over the jewelry box still sitting in the middle of the floor. I sighed at the
sight, all my jewelry tangled and scattered around the floor, including the
delicate heart pendant my mom had given me on my seventeenth birthday four
months ago. I picked it up and put it on, stared at the other stuff on the
floor, and sighed.
I’ll worry about the rest of the mess later.