Isla and Ben were just sixteen when the Boxing Day tsunami tore through their beach resort in Thailand. Just days after forming a life-changing bond, both were missing and presumed dead. Unbeknown to each other and haunted by one of the biggest natural disasters in world history, Isla and Ben are living very different lives, until over a decade later when a chance encounter throws them back together.
Based on real life events, The Day of the Wave is a story of healing, learning to let go, and figuring out when to hold on with everything you have left.
Becky Wicks lives in Bali and scribbles books, and she’s mostly powered by coffee. Her first book in the Starstruck Series, Before He Was Famous recently reached #1 in Amazon’s Coming of Age and New Adult & College categories, and her three travel books, published by HarperCollins are online to make feet nice and itchy. Mostly though, she loves to write love stories. She blogs most days at beckywicks.com and always welcomes distractions on Twitter @bex_wicks. Especially if you have photos of cats.
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'Isabella,' I said to the girl in braids behind the computer. She was frantic, tapping away a million miles an hour. A line of people were behind me. All of them were bedraggled and beside themselves, like the cast of a war movie. 'Isabella from England. Izzy. I left her on the beach. Can you look again?'
'We don't have any Isabella's yet, I'm sorry,' she said. I asked a hundred times about Toby, too, and Charlie and Van and Tee, but I always got the same answer.
They'd brought in experts from everywhere - Austria, the Netherlands, Australia, Germany, and all of them I realized quickly were carrying out the gruesome tasks it took to identify the dead. Most of it wasn't even happening behind closed doors. There weren't enough doors.
After a while, no one was bringing the injured in anymore. It was just more bodies and still none of them were Toby. Still none of them were Charlie or Izzy... at least, I didn't think they were. There were panels of photos of the bodies as they were brought in, on the walls. But they were all so horribly deformed. You can't even imagine what water does. People go black, their eyes bulge out of their sockets. The only way to recognize somebody at first is by their jewelry.
They were fingerprinting the corpses, I discovered. They gave them full dental examinations and took X-rays, then they sent the DNA samples away for analysis. It was when I learned they were matching them to a missing-person's list in Phuket that I begged to be taken there, to the International Hospital. I knew more bodies were there. Maybe I'd find Toby there.
I found my mom instead. She'd just flown in and been allowed a transfer. 'My baby,' she cried when she found me, pulling me against her and sobbing. I was sixteen but her words hit hard. I felt like a baby; a useless, helpless, broken baby. Glenn stood solid like a tree behind her. He hugged me too. It was the first and last time he ever did.
We moved to a hotel, where we stayed for two weeks and I made it my job to look out for Sonthi. He was going through the same thing, only he was still searching for twenty people he loved. We played guitar at night. We knew the same Beatles song so we sang together outside, taught ourselves the harmonies to take our minds off all the tragedies. Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away, Now it looks as though they're here to stay, Oh I believe in yesterday.
Even though Sonthi didn't know the meaning of the words, I think they helped us both somehow. The yesterdays we missed were haunting everyone but at least we escaped with our lives.
I went with mom to the councilor, too, but she cried all the way through, and she cried so much at the hotel that I didn't sleep for days. I was a shell. I had no tears left. 'They're gone, they're never coming back,' mom yowled.
'We don't know that!' I yelled at her, but she yowled even more into the walls and the floor and the pillow, while a thousand other people doing the same made even the hotel feel like a funeral parlor.
We got told that DNA breaks down once bodies decompose. The longer we had to wait, the less chance we had of identifying anyone. Eventually I had to say goodbye to Sonthi and everyone at the hospital I'd gotten to know. Our flight was booked; my brother and uncle and Izzy were officially missing, assumed dead. My mom was a pale-faced Martian I didn't know anymore and she hadn't really spoken to me in days. 'Toby, my baby, Toby!,' she wailed into Glenn's expensive shirt as he helped her outside and into the taxi.
I was just about to leave for the airport when the girl in braids came to grab me. 'Ben,' she said, leaning down, putting a hand to my shoulder. I could tell by her face she had bad news. 'We found Isabella, from the UK,' she said as the tears careened down her face. 'There's only one on the list. I'm so sorry.'
It was raining when I got outside. It was a real tropical downfall; the kind of rain that lashes and hurts. I turned my face up to it and let it hit me as the wind howled. I wanted to feel the physical crash of everything that had been breaking my heart. The only thing I felt was how it wasn't rain at all. It felt like my brother and Izzy and Charlie and two hundred thousand other souls were crying.