The Crack in the Ground

The sound was deep and painful. The soil under our feet moved, and shook and trembled like a whimpering animal, scared and suffering. It was only for a moment. After that everything was silent. The sky was silent, the grass was still, the trees did not move, the animals were nowhere to be seen.

The snow on the highest mountain peaks began to melt, and the crack from the mountain to the village grew longer and deeper and swallowed everything in its way.

Marina was scared. She had never seen the mountain behave in this way. She believed that someone in the village had done something wrong, and because of that the mountain was complaining and punishing all of them.

Marina saw the mothers with small children running out of the reach of the mountain, trying to get to the opening of the valley. Everything was confused. The elderly couldn’t run, so they stayed and prayed. The men helped to keep the opening to the valley clear until everybody was out. Some returned and dragged the stubborn old people to safety.

Yes, the crack was longer and wider than before, but suddenly there was a new sound and the crack was no more. It was filled by a flood of flowing earth. Soon enough, all the noises stopped again. It began to snow lightly, but the snowflakes were black. It was not snow then, it was ash.

What the townspeople were witnessing was the awakening of a volcano. They saw it when they came back to where their houses had been. All that remained was a solid valley floor paved with a muddy cement. The people dispersed. Some went to the coast. Some went across the border. The valley was no longer theirs. It was the mountain’s domain.

I

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