– Burger King, Carlton Mill Corner

“It’s not life or death!” I remember saying to my friend, as at the time, deciding where to go for lunch seemed like a tiny decision in our lives, but in the end, it turns out it WAS a life or death situation. School finished at 12:00 because of a teachers union meeting in town (which my mother was attending because she teaches here at CGHS) So I had to find my own way home that day. The bus into the bus exchange was running late, so we decided to walk down to the Burger King on the corner of Bealey Ave and Papanui Road. After a long walk we finally arrived and my friends and I ordered our lunches.

I still remember carrying my tray over to the table and picking up a french fry, when suddenly, it hit. My friends and I looked up at each other, we all had the same shocked expression on our face as we dived under the table. The ground was shaking crazily, and having three girls huddled under a tiny plastic table did not seem like a safe place to be. “EVERYBODY OUT!” I heard a man yell over the screams and cracking ice type sounds, which I later found out to be bricks and glass breaking. We made our way out to the car park, which was filled with customers from the surrounding shops, crying and trying to contact people. There was even a woman with foils in her hair and a hair dressing cape on! Luckily, no one had died in our area, but I could see crashed buildings, rubble and dust as far as the eye could see. I immediately thought about my mum in the town hall, along with all the other teachers at our school, were they okay? What about all the girls who had taken the bus to the bus exchange, were they okay?

Christchurch definitely came together as a community, as complete strangers were surrounding us, making sure we were okay and asking if we had made contact with our parents yet. I hadn’t heard from my mum yet, but all I could do was pray she was alright. My friend Sam made contact with her mum and we headed back to her house which was down the road. We had to leap to stay on dry ground, as liquefaction was overflowing the street. When we finally made it to Sam’s house, it reeked of alcohol, as every bottle from every cupboard was smashed on the kitchen floor. After spending the next hour or so sweeping up glass and occasionally diving under the table, I finally got a call from my parents and managed to get home safely. My house and family were all fine, as we live quite a distance away from town, but I was definitely shaken although very thankful for my life.

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