Zoë’s world changed again six years later.  She was in her room, researching a term paper.  Unlike her brother, she was using her Reading Week to study.  Of course, she was a few months away from graduation.  Neal still had the rest of the year before he had to “take school and the real world seriously,” as he had put it before leaving.

            She envied him his perspective.  At the same time, she looked forward to graduation and then teacher’s college.  And for that, she needed exemplary grades.

            In the middle of a tricky paragraph in her textbook, the telephone started to ring down the hall.  An inexplicable shiver began in her chest and pin-pricked its way up her spine to the base of her neck.  She got up from her desk slowly and came to her door.  She peeked out, and looked down the hall.

            The phone kept ringing, sitting on the hall table.  Zoë bit her lip and walked towards it.  She stuck out her hand, and cringed when the phone rang as she was about to pick it up.  She wondered what she was scared of.

            “Hello?” Zoë said, putting the receiver to her ear.

            “Good morning, Zoë,” Her best friend, Hope, answered. 

            “Hope, it’s you!  What a relief.  I had the weirdest feeling just now…”

            “Zoë, have the boys left on that ski trip yet?”  Hope asked, her voice flat.

            “They left last night, on a red-eye.  Why?” Zoë asked.  For a moment, she had thought she was just being paranoid.  Now, with Hope’s question, she was worried again.  Something was wrong.

            “Turn on the television,” Hope replied. 

            Zoë carried the portable phone with her down the stairs, entering the family room with the big screen television.  She turned it on.

            “…freak storm, which has meteorologists baffled.  The city of Vancouver is experiencing flooding and water damage at unprecedented levels.  Outlying communities have yet to report in, but authorities estimate millions of dollars worth of damage…”

            Zoë muted the news commentator, hardly daring to look at pictures behind the anchorwoman that featured flooded streets, downed trees, and devastated houses.

            “What is this?” Zoë asked Hope.

            “There was a hurricane.  It’s been on every channel this morning; it hit B.C. really hard last night.  Have you heard from your brother?”

            Zoë took a deep breath.  “No.”  It was like the night of her mother’s accident all over again.  She wondered what odd instinct had told her, with the ringing of the phone, that death once again was being carried over the wires.

            “I don’t want you to panic, but I would try calling your chalet, and the airline.  That whole area is in chaos.  I’m really worried about them.”

            “You and me both.”  Zoë ran her fingers through her hair, brushing it back from her face.  She struggled not to cry.

            “Zoë, I’ll be home tomorrow from school.  I’ll talk to you then and hopefully we’ll know more.”

            “Okay.”  Zoë rubbed her hand across her face, cutting off the sniffles before they could start.  She didn’t want to cry, not on the phone.  She held it in.

            The crying didn’t start until the airline informed her father that the plane never reached Vancouver.  She sat at the kitchen table that night while her father spoke with them.  She rested her head on her outstretched arm, while he held her hand, occasionally giving her reassuring squeezes.

            It’s not the worst day of my life, she thought to herself.  This time, I knew what it was like to lose someone.  Sooner or later, this happens to everyone.

            But that was cold comfort.

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