TITLE: Helplessness in High Defenition
By Ennis Smith
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I do not really have a target audience for this tale. I simply wanted to touch readers emotionally; have them feel the pain of loss; remind them to praise GOD in all things whether good or bad.
I could hardly believe what I was watching take place, half the world away from the safe confines of my living room. I was simultaneously appalled and intrigued; my eyes fixated on the television screen. I’ll say this about HDTV: it really brings the picture to life. It puts you right there, in the action. Right then, the horror displayed across my 55-inch screen was almost too much for me to really appreciate the clarity of the picture. My heart skipped several beats as I watched nature wreak havoc.
“Honey, come in here quick! Look at this! It’s live, right now,” I shouted to my wife who was around the corner fiddling in the kitchen.
Today, of all days, we both decided to play hooky from work and spend quality time together. Not thirty minutes earlier, we’d made love the way we used to. No inside voices and no slow motions were necessary. The kids were all in school. I was still high from our blissful passion, when I plopped my naked body into the warm lazy-boy facing the living room television. As soon as I hit the remote power button, the TV blared the latest world news. Euphoria gave way to bewilderment. My wife strolled into the living room, still naked, carrying two mugs of freshly brewed java; a light smile beaming across her glowing face.
“So what’s the emergency, mister?” she asked as she seemed to glide into the room. Our eyes connected. She must have caught my confused look. “Dear, are you OK? What’s wrong? What’s hap…” she began.
Her green eyes latched onto the screen. The glow and color drained from her cheeks, immediately. My eyes darted toward the screen, and my mouth dropped open. This had to be an elaborate hoax of some sort.
A live camera mounted atop a high building roofline was capturing a wide shot of a 24-foot tall wall of water flowing, from the ocean, into costal Japan. Tree lines were swallowed whole. Cars were tossed around like Hot Wheels replicas. And below the massive swell, hundreds of people fled in all directions, futilely trying to outrun liquid death. The camera was obviously being manually operated, because the lens suddenly focused on one pair of victims amid the great expanse. We watched in total shock as a young woman and small child, maybe 4 years old, were struck by a compact car tumbling from the center of the swell, at the speed of a bullet. In a flash, they were gone; the image forever burned into my psyche.
My strength suddenly failed, and I slumped into the chair. I heard muffled splashes of hot coffee dumping onto the cream colored Burberry carpeted floor. From a far off distance, I could hear my wife’s heart-broken sobs and pleas to GOD. I couldn’t move. I could barely breathe. I needed to rush to her side, no more than 3 feet away. But I was transfixed to the HD images of death and destruction in Japan.
Somehow, from deep down, I found the strength to pull myself from the chair and allow gravity to drop my limp body to floor. I crawled toward my wife, never taking my eyes away from the total destruction displayed across the screen. Virtually nothing remained intact. Buildings had toppled. Power-posts and lines had fallen. Streets and paved surfaces were drowned and unrecognizable. I reached a limp and trembling hand toward the sound of my wife, but found the scalding hot coffee stain instead. The instant burn was enough to jar my vision away from the TV screen, as I yelled in pain.
My wife sat on the floor, propped by her left hip and left elbow, crying uncontrollably. She unconsciously reached toward the TV with her free hand, as if trying to grab at a victim. She wanted to save someone. At the helpless sight of her, my strength flowed back into my body. I enveloped her with strong arms and squeezed her tight, instantly remembering what she might be thinking of at that very moment. As I rocked her trembling body gently, I whispered into her right ear.
“Sweetheart, we’re OK. GOD’s watching over all of them now. He’s watching over her. He’s watching over her, honey.”
My wife buried her tear-soaked face into my warm chest, and let go of her emotions. She cried the tears of a parent who knows loss. I held her close to me, until her body heaved no more and she began to sleep. It was then that I said a prayer for those lives lost in the Tsunami. I also said a prayer for our little Alicia, who had drowned on a beach, three years and seven months ago to the day. My wife had reached for her, but could not hold onto her tiny hand.
The next day, I kissed our daughter’s photograph, then threw a three-pound hammer through my 55-inch HD television.
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