It was Saturday night and I was going through my usual routine of desperately trying to fall asleep while V. snuffled and snored next to me. I resisted the urge to reach over and click the crown on my old Timex Indiglo watch with the old man expandable metal link band picked up in a Salvation Army years ago to see what time it was, as knowing the hour usually makes it that much harder to actually sleep while my mind starts calculating how many hours until a respectable wake-up time and if I just fall asleep right now I can get six hours…five…four…and I thought I felt the bed rumble. I figured it must’ve just been V. exhaling a particularly raucous and rumble-y snore as I was actually, maybe, drifting off but it was enough to get me to High Earthquake Alert and I spent some more time tossing and turning and wondering if I’d have time to grab my wedding rings off the dresser--certainly not enough time to get the earrings out of the safe but maybe enough time to grab boots instead of flip flops--if I had to run out the door to avoid the roof caving in on me. I awoke at some point, again neglecting to check the time, to hear the starlings outside the window and see that the sky had lightened to grey. It was still early enough to flop over and sleep some more.
I got up later Sunday morning and checked the Earthquake site, as I am wont to do every single day upon waking and saw that there had been a particularly huge quake in the Emilia-Romagna region north of here. Five point nine the site said. Preceded by smaller ones. Followed by others, the aftershocks causing more damage.
Four (or is it now up to seven?) people died. Factories collapsed. Aftershocks caused clock towers to fall. Houses are missing chunks of wall. Four thousand people are unable to return home. In twenty seconds. God, I’m terrified of earthquakes.
The site showed the time of the big quake as 4:03 “in the night”, as they say here. Four A.M. When the sky is beginning to lighten and the birds starting to chirp.
Clearly, I am clairvoyant. The feeling of impending doom that kept me up was my sixth sense. As I lay in bed the night before, I felt on a subconscious level the imminent tremblor. Or maybe I caused it with my thoughts, my impressive brain controlling the movement of the earth’s plates. Or maybe, the fact that I am constantly thinking about earthquakes, worrying about what to do if one happens, endlessly mapping out my running routes for V. in case there’s one while I’m out and he needs to tell the Civil Protection folks where to search the rubble, maybe it’s just inevitable that every single quake happens to coincide with my constant thought of them.