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“Amber!”

My name, screamed over and over again with a passion and fear stronger than any I’ve ever heard.

I whip my head in circles looking for the mysterious voice. People crowd around me, pushing against one another, tears running down their faces; insensitive to the desperate, nameless voice. Other names circulate through the room, but mine continues to be called with an untainted fear and fervor.

“Amber! Amber! Amber!” It gets closer and my eyes work harder to push through the throng of scared, desperate people.

Suddenly the people part, like the ocean for the Israelites, and there you are. You stand there, eyes locked on me, and call my name one last time.

“Amber…”

We both rush, embrace, and collide. As I run towards you, your eyes change from terror to relief, and I swear I can feel a cry of my own sneak up my throat, though I’d never admit it, but I swallow, blink my eyes, and suppress it. I crash into your chest and press my nose into the opening in between your ribs. I bury myself in your freckles and breathe you in. Rather than your usual scent of some department store cologne, you smell of sweat and tears and some fright that’s implacable.

I feel you bury your nose in my hair and kiss my head, something you’ve never done before. But we might as well start now.

I grip your hands, still leaving my head concealed, and hold on to them like they’re the only things keeping me from crossing over into insanity.

We stand there, wrapped inside one another, for what seems like an eternity. People shove by and nudge us with their elbows in an attempt to make more room, but you guard me, a brick wall, from everyone and everything.

“Do you know where anyone is?”

Anyone. Anyone? A crowd of hundreds of thousands of people surrounds us, and you ask if I know where anyone is?

But do I know where anyone is? Do I know where your parents are? Or mine for that matter? Do I know who has our siblings? Do I know the fate of our friends?

“No, I don’t know where anyone is.”

Now it’s you, and me alone. In a sea of frightened people trying to escape what they know has now become their reality: a lonely, desolate life. One of uncertainty and despair after a single natural disaster of proportions unimaginable to even the most intelligent of men and women annihilated our happiness. One that left all but the lucky homeless, family-less; hopeless.

You kiss my temple and whisper in my ear,

“Amber, I need you right now.”

You need me right now?

The cry slips back up my throat and the name-calling begins again.

Amber.

Amber.

Amber.

Amber.

Amber.

 

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Taken on August 1, 2011