July 1, 2012 – Tokyo, Japan
My father died today. It wasn’t pretty. Mom was driving me home from school. I’m twelve and a half, in five days.
“Stop shaking the car,” Mom said.
“I’m not,” I replied, a little pissed off.
We looked out the front window, and everything was moving, rolling and rocking… the highway, cars, buildings, telephone poles, everything! It looked like we were all little play toys being swirled around in a bathtub and about to go down the drain.
There was screaming, crunching, steel on steel, cracking concrete, electric sparks and explosions. Mom pulled over to the side of the road and somehow avoided hitting anything or being hit. The silence that followed was the creepiest thing I’ve ever not heard. Then the sirens started.
Within minutes, there were fire trucks, rescue trucks, ambulances, police cars and helicopters wailing nonstop and seemingly driving, and flying, at breakneck speeds in all directions.
Mom grabbed her purse. “Get your backpack,” she said. “It’s only a few miles from here. We should be able to get home.” We left the car at the side of the road and hurried home. It was the first time I wasn’t embarrassed to be holding my Mom’s hand since I was a little kid. I was scared as hell. Mom looked pretty freaked out too. She kept mumbling, “Your father. I hope he’s home.”
We stopped in front of a fallen bridge and looked towards the Eastern part of the city. There were fires everywhere. Skyscrapers, or what were left of them, dotted the skyline. Then we heard the screaming jet engines and Army trucks nearby and overhead. They all went straight towards the destruction.
“Isn’t that where Dad’s office is,” I asked Mom, nodding towards a leveled part of town about five miles away by train and an hour by car, on a good day.
Mom nodded. Tears streamed down her cheeks. I’d never seen my mother cry. Dad said she did when Sobo died, but that was before I was born. It was weird. I was scared. It felt like I was going to throw up, and I could hardly breathe. Mom saw me bend over, wiped her face and took my hand.
“Come on. Let’s go see if your father made it home for an early supper.”
That’s when I really started getting freaked. Dad was never home for supper, let alone early. He was what some kids called Karōshi, or someone that work themselves to death. Now, Mom and I were worried that he’d died, not from work, but at work.
After making our way through some empty lots, behind apartment buildings, and over the canal next to our house, we made it home. It was still standing. I rushed ahead, as soon as we saw it, and mother was close behind.
“Dad! Dad!” I ran from room to room, almost slipping several times on water and dishes, which had fallen and broken on the floor.
“Yutaka! Yutaka!” Mom called, as she made her way upstairs to their bedroom.
We met back in the kitchen and shook our heads.
“I’m sure he’s OK,” Mom said, trying to reassure herself, as much as me. “He’s a tough guy. Always has been.”
“Of course he is, Mom.” I put my arm around her shoulder and stared out the window at the billows of smoke making their way across the city.
Dad never came home. Mom got a call on her cell phone earlier tonight. When she hung up, she fell to the floor sobbing.
That was six hours ago. I can’t sleep, and am writing this down in my journal, using the flashlight app with my phone. I don’t ever want to forget. Mom told me that Dad, like thousands of others, would never see the next sunrise. His building was completely crushed. He was inside. They didn’t have time to get out. When people first felt the shaking, saw the smoke and fire and heard the roars they went running, but most didn’t get far. It wasn’t supposed to happen, not again. Godzilla had been killed six or seven times already, but he’d come back. They were wrong.