Pink, blue, and white buildings are everywhere, crumbled like dry cookies. Pieces of people and their homes litter the torn sidewalks like gumwrappers. They used to be full of something of substance, and their emptiness scares me.
We lined the sides of the road with sinks and filled them with whatever we thought was worth saving. One of them is full of screw-on bottle tops, white ones. Others are full of broken plates, or bracelets. Memories, all of them, or inside jokes; the things that people don't need to remember, but want to, because it's nice.
The earthquake is suddenly there, and then it's gone, and we are in the aftermath, trying to save the children. But they are only breathing phantoms, and as soon as we get a hold of them and feel their soft flesh under out trembling fingertips coated with blood, they are smoke.
While we scurry after the phantom children, whirring somethings fly by like white-gray rockets, sounding like missiles. They avoid people and rubble, which are often the same thing, and several of us realize they are dragons. But when they stop, we know we are wrong, because they are angels. The angel-dragons whoosh by, pulling the burning air after them. No one screams while they are near. When they stop, we can see their faces; one second they look like women in dresses, the next they are blood-splattered men. And then we know they are dragons again.
We are breathing the dust of everyone, and as I climb in the ruins after the phantom children, I feel nothing but grit under my nails, and my throat raspingly closes around the spreading brokenness. I think my leg might be broken.