She Drowned Before I Heard the Explosion

I didn’t know what it was. The noise I mean. It woke me up. I thought it was car doors slamming, hooligan kids terrorizing the trailer park. Good thing I didn’t tell anybody but Horse that.

Found out later, watching the news, a volcano exploded, erupted, whatever in Tonga. The shock wave took nine hours to travel the ten thousand miles to Anchorage. That’s what I heard.

I wonder what it sounded like there. Like Hell itself splitting open, I imagine.

When I think about sound traveling over water, I think of loon calls, sunset over a lake, waves slapping the sides of a boat, quiet conversations on a dock.

Not a volcano exploding.

Horse heard the noise, too, of course. I don’t know what it sounded like to him, but he about deafened me barking.

Horse is a Great Dane, and, Lord, can that dog bark. He was so skinny when I brought him home from the shelter that when he stood up on the couch I could see the lamp shining through his rib cage. I gave him my bean and cheese burrito and he swallowed it whole.

He weighs more than I do now.

The news lady said the volcano was underwater, so when it exploded, it set off a tidal wave. Tsunami’s the word they’re using these days.

The news lady said there was an English lady there, on Tonga. Her and her husband, they ran a shelter for stray dogs. When the water came rushing in, they ran to save the dogs. The news didn’t say anything else about the dogs, just that the English lady and her husband ended up clinging to trees. For dear life, as we say. The lady couldn’t hold on, and the water swept her away.

I imagine her husband watched her lose her grip. I watched my Tanya lose her grip, not fast, but slow and painful, the cancer eating her bones bit by bit.

I wonder which would be worse. Fast or slow. I wouldn’t wish slow on anybody, I know that.

My part of Anchorage is high enough off the water I don’t gotta worry about tsunamis. The folks that live down by Ship Creek would be in a pinch, but where Horse and I live, we’re up a ways. Good thing, too. I’ve got enough to worry about, thank you.

I donated money, which I don’t usually do. I had some extra from saving for a trip to the Bahamas to get away from the cold and the snow.

And the darkness. Lord, the darkness. Forget about the cold and the snow.

The darkness is what gets me.

Grand Bahama, my keychain says on one side. Picture of a beach, palm trees, the setting sun on the other side. I bought it online to remind myself what I was saving for, remind myself not to spend money foolishly.

The keychain is in a drawer now. You know what I think if I see it?

That I can’t climb palm trees. I’ve seen kids do it, and somehow that makes it look all the more impossible. If a tsunami came in, I’d be done for. Trapped on the ground, swept out to sea. Fish food.

I look at that keychain and think: She drowned before I heard the explosion.


Author’s Note

This story is fiction. However, in real life, I was in Anchorage when the Tonga Hunga-Tonga Ha’apai volcano erupted. The shock wave, when it arrived some nine hours later, at three or four in the morning, woke me up. I had no idea what the noise was, figured it was kids causing a ruckus on the street.

By that time, the tsunami resulting from the underwater eruption had killed six people worldwide: two in Peru and four in Tonga, including Angela Glover, an Englishwoman who had moved to Tonga and was running a dog-rescue center with her husband.

Given the widespread devastation and suffering experienced by the Tongan people, I was leery of highlighting the death of an expat, but as the prompt included a dog breed and Mrs. Glover died attempting to save the dogs in her care, I decided to go ahead with it.


Prompted by Tre L. Loadholt (Bahamas keychain, Great Dane, Tonga).

Leave a comment with a living thing, an inanimate object, and a location and I will write a story based on your prompt and tag you when I publish it.

Photo by Andreea Popa on Unsplash

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If you love this piece and you’ve ever tossed some coins to a subway saxophonist or a fiddler playing on the street, please consider sending a few bucks my way—a fiver would cover a day’s worth of tacos. Or, for $3, buy me a coffee!



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Drowned.

Fish food.

I look at that keychain and I think, she was dead before I heard the explosion.


Author’s Note

This story is fiction. However, in real life, I was in Anchorage when the Tonga Hunga-Tonga Ha’apai volcano erupted. The shock wave, when it arrived some nine hours later, at three or four in the morning, woke me up. I had no idea what the noise was, figured it was kids causing a ruckus on the street.

By that time, the tsunami resulting from the underwater eruption had killed six people worldwide: two in Peru and four in Tonga, including Angela Glover, an Englishwoman who had moved to Tonga and was running a dog-rescue center with her husband.

Given the widespread devastation and suffering experienced by the Tongan people, I was leery of highlighting the death of an expat, but as the prompt included a dog breed and Mrs. Glover died attempting to save the dogs in her care, I decided to go ahead with it.


Prompted by Tre L. Loadholt (Bahamas keychain, Great Dane, Tonga).

Leave a comment with a living thing, an inanimate object, and a location and I will write a story based on your prompt and tag you when I publish it.

Photo by Andreea Popa on Unsplash

Jim’s Taco Fund

If you love this piece and you’ve ever tossed some coins to a subway saxophonist or a fiddler playing on the street, please consider sending a few bucks my way—a fiver would cover a day’s worth of tacos. Or, for $3, buy me a coffee!