The door swung shut behind her. Kehlani jiggled the handle but it remained shut. She had stepped into the custodian’s closet to take a private call, and now she was locked in. She shrugged. It was a well-used hallway and someone was bound to hear her pounding on the door, but first, she had to take this call.

“Hey, Dad, what’s up?”

“Hey, sweetheart.” His voice garbled in and out

“Dad your cutting out.”

“Kehlani, listen to me you got to-” His voice went out again.

“Sorry Dad, what?”

“You need to-” Static cut through the other line “-get o-out.” the call ended, replaced by the busy signal.

Get out? What did he mean by get out? A chilling scream broke the air, followed by more, along with the sound of breaking glass. What was going on?

She started pounding on the door. “Help! Somebody help me! Get me out of here!”

Something cold swished around her feet, she stepped back. It was dim to in the small closet but she could just make out the floor rippling underneath her. No wait, it was water! Panicking, Kehlani redoubled her efforts to get out, kicking, screaming, and scratching at the door to no avail. The water was just above her ankles now and rising quickly. Still, no one came.

Kehlani looked around for something she could use to force the door open but sadly found nothing. Then her eyes fixed on a large white bucket. With the water rising ever higher she stuck the bucket on her head. It would create a small air pocket, she knew, but how long would it last?

The icy water was well above her waist now and her teeth started to chatter. She tried to pound on the door a few more times but was growing weak. She dimly heard a faint thud and it took her a while to realize it was coming from the door. There was someone on the other side!

She threw the bucket off her head- it would just get in the way- braced her feet on the opposite wall and pushed against the door with all her might. The door slowly began to give way, but the weight of the water against the door made it almost impossible to open it. Then slowly, slowly the door opened, inch by inch until a strong hand reached through, grabbed her arm and pulled her into the hallway just before the water closed over her head.

They broke the surface of the water which was only about a foot away from the ceiling of the hallway.

She could barely hear a man’s voice over the roar of the water. “Take a deep breath and don’t let go of me. We’re headed to the roof. There’s a rescue-chopper waiting.”

Kehlani nodded and did as she was told. They half swam, half walked up the stairwell and onto the roof. She gasped.

Her home island of Kauai, Hawaii, was almost completely submerged in seawater. Her first thought was, ‘It looks like a giant melted snow globe!’ Then, ‘I’m in this giant melted snow globe!’ And finally, “Mahalo there’s a helicopter!”

She climbed into the helicopter and they rose into the air. “Mahalo,” she whispered again, grateful that she had survived the tsunami… barely.