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  • Nathalie Ho

A Nightmare of Waves

13-year-old Camelia Burns stood in front of the cruise ship, giving her best friend Heather a fist bump. “You ready?” she asked.

This was her third time on a cruise liner, but the first time she could be trusted to be on her own. After all those times she had pleaded with her parents, they had finally compromised with her- meaning she could roam around the ship independently.

That’ll be the best cruise trip I’ve had by far, she thought. What could go wrong? She had her friend with her; she had a phone and independence. It was all a thirteen-year-old could’ve asked for.

Little did she know, the next few days would be an emotional turmoil for her.

“Of course I’m ready!” Heather replied, excitedly.

As they headed to the service desk to get their room cards, the two of them eagerly chatted about what they wanted to do, the things they wanted to see, and how fun it was going to be. Following the girls was Alissa, Camelia’s sister.

“Yeah, it’s going to be so fun,” she said, jealously rolling her eyes. I don’t understand why Mom didn’t let me bring my friend along, she thought. It’s unfair that she’s getting special treatment. Alissa was negative a lot of the time–she had just lost one of her closest friends– which made it even harder for her to see the good in things.

“You okay, Alissa?” Her mother looked at her kindly and smiled. “Yeah,” she replied, a hint of sarcasm in her tone as she forced a smile. “I’ll be fine.”

Camelia stood by the pool deck, the water glimmering silver in the sunlight’s rays. Heather looked at her. “Come on in,” she urged.

“Coming!” Camelia shouted. She dove in, but once she got to the surface, she winced. “Ow,” Her head felt like it was being weighed down by a 10-tonne weight.

Hearing her, Heather looked at Camelia worriedly. “What’s wrong?” she asked. Camelia felt like there was no need to worry. It doesn’t hurt a lot anyway- the last thing I want to happen now is for Mom and Dad to start following me again!

“I’m fine, Heather,” she said, white-lying. “It doesn’t hurt that much, so it’s probably seasickness.”

Heather looked at her with suspicion. “Okay then. Tell me if you feel worse so we can get back to your mom and dad- I trust you, so don’t lie to me!”

“I think I’ll go work on my tan now,” Camelia lied. She paddled back to the ladder, hoisting herself back up to the edge.

My head hurts a lot, she thought. It’s not seasickness, I’ve been on cruises so many times- why lose tolerance now?

That night, Camelia tossed and turned. She couldn’t sleep at all, pulling the covers over her and closing her eyes. I should get some sleep to cure my headache.

When she was finally drifting off, she felt a falling sensation. She gasped in horror as pictures of a boat sinking flashed across her vision. Waves splashed all around it, swallowing the boat slowly as it sank. The strange thing was, she was the one commanding the ship, losing control of everything as she fell.

She tried to scream, but no sound came out. In confusion, she pinched herself semi-consciously.

Wait- the boat is- is that our boat?! Is this happening in real life? I gotta wake up fast!

Rolling over again, she lost control, almost kicking Heather. She felt her temperature rise fast as she sweated hard and lost consciousness, blacking out.

“She’s got a high temperature- should we bring her to the medical bay?”

Slowly regaining her consciousness, Camelia heard voices around her.

“Maybe she should just stay in for the day, we’ll monitor her until tomorrow night.”


No! she thought. Please don’t!

Just wake up already and tell them you’re alright.

But then again, there’s no point in doing that- you blacked out! Do you expect your parents to still trust you after that? Come on, wake up, wake up, wake up! she thought. What if they think it’s Heather’s fault, or worse, lock me in the room?

Waking up finally, she started crying. Little did she know, her parents did have a punishment for her.

“No- M-mom, Dad, I-it’s not what y-you t-think! I-I just had a nightmare!” Camelia said, trying to prevent any punishment from heading her way.

“Ohmigosh, is she okay–” asked Heather. But she was cut off by Camelia’s extremely overprotective dad.

“Sweetie, are you okay? It wasn’t just a nightmare! You practically fell into a coma for an hour and a half, and we thought you had a convulsion or something! You’re not okay. She should stay in for the day- what do you think, Cassie?”

Camelia’s mother nodded. “Yes, sweetie. I think it’s better if you-”

She was cut off by Camelia crying harder. “N-no, Mom. I-I don’t w-want t-to,” she stuttered.

Luckily, Heather stepped in. “Don’t worry, I’ll stay in with her,” she said warmly. ”It’s gonna be okay, Camelia. I’ll stay in with you.”

Camelia nodded, wiping away her tears. “Thank you, Heather. You’re the best!”

Camelia didn’t notice her sister rolling her eyes at them as she headed out the door, slamming it with force as jealousy rose in her like boiling water.

The two girls sat on the couch, alone in their deserted hotel room.

“So, you had a dream?” asked Heather, intrigued. “What was it about?”

Camelia sighed. “I’ll tell you- even though it’ll probably sound far-fetched… Please listen and believe me, Heather. I think you’re the only one who’ll think this is real.”

Heather nodded understandingly. “Go ahead, I’m listening,”

Camelia went on. “I saw a cruise ship- I’m pretty sure it’s our ship, and it was sinking in a tsunami. I think it’s going to happen to us, but that sounds like I’m just worried, which I haven’t thought about because I never stressed about these things,”

She grimaced, staring at the floor. “Nobody’s going to believe it, but I think this is some sort of… warning or omen.”

Just then, Heather smiled. “I just had a crazy thought- a crazy one. What if you have future-telling powers?”

Camelia shook her head in disbelief. “Heather, I don’t think-”

“No, seriously! You had a headache when we were at the pool, remember?”

Camelia still didn’t believe her. “Heather, how could- I mean,---” She sighed loudly, putting her face in her palms. “This makes no sense!”

Heather put a hand around her friend’s shoulder comfortingly. “Don’t worry, Camelia. We’ll take it one step at a time. I’ll help you figure this out even if no one else believes you.”

“I think we need to clear our minds. I’ll call my mom and ask her whether we can take a walk,” Camelia said.

That night during dinner, Camelia’s phone buzzed. She turned it over, reading the notification on the screen. She gasped. No way, she thought. Could it be?

Weather Notification: Moderate to strong waves and storms near your area. Boats are advised to stay away or avert their original courses for their safety. It is advised not to engage in watersports as there is swelling. Dated 18:58

Just then, her parents looked at her. “Camelia, you know the rule- no phones at the table,” her mother said, reaching her hand out to confiscate her device. “Give it to me and I’ll return it after dinner.”

Sighing, she handed the phone over and blushed in embarrassment.

I feel like a seven-year-old again, she thought. I wish you didn’t do that in front of Heather. Thanks for embarrassing me, Mom.

“Camelia, what were you gasping at just now?” asked Heather curiously.

Alissa turned to look at Camelia. “What, did your 45th best friend text you?” she asked sarcastically.

“Alissa, why are you like this lately?- I’ll tell you later, Heather,” Camelia said.

“None of your business,” replied Alissa.

Heather and Camelia stayed up till late that night.

“So, your phone said there’ll be a storm tomorrow?” Heather questioned. Camelia nodded.

“Yeah, but it doesn’t necessarily mean I was right…Or does it?”

Deep in thought, the girls discussed the possibilities of Camelia’s vision.

“Let’s write all of this down. It’ll make more sense that way,” Heather opened her journal, flipped to a blank page, and then pulled a pen out. “But that also means the boat could pass it… Or maybe the crew already knew about this.” She looked at Camelia, nodding at her suggestions. “I think that if it gets worse, we should start warning the passengers, and possibly the crew…”

An hour later, they had scribbled all the possibilities down in Heather’s notebook. “I’m too tired to even think, Heather. We should talk more tomorrow. I’m getting sleepy.”

Camelia got up from Heather’s mattress, yawning loudly. “Good night, Heather,” she said. Getting onto her bed, she hoped she’d fall asleep safe and sound tonight.

Unfortunately, she didn’t feel safe for long. About a few hours later, Camelia woke up feeling like she was going to throw her guts up.

Feeling nauseous, her insides seared like they were on fire. The entire room was spinning and blurry, and her head hurt like hell. “Crap,” she whispered to herself. Then she felt bitter, salty acids seeping into her mouth. Running to the bathroom, she closed the door as quietly as she possibly could and tried her best to vomit silently.

A while later, she got up shakily, sitting on the fuzzy floor mat. Did I wake anyone up? I had better not… But at least I made it to the bathroom.

To her shock, the door latch rattled. Quickly running to the bathtub, she hid inside, drawing the shower curtains so no one would see her “accident”.

There was no use hiding it though. Her red-and-black hair was stained a little, and her clothes were stained and probably smelled like throw-up.

Oh crap, I forgot to flush the toilet.

“Don’t come in…” Camelia whispered, her voice dripping with despair as she crossed her fingers hard. “Please… no, no, no…”

To her disappointment, the door swung open, and Alissa came in.

“Why did I hear someone in here?” she asked herself. Then she walked over to the bathtub, pushing the curtains apart. A look of surprise and disgust crossed her face.

“Camelia, what are you doing here at-”

And just like that, Camelia blacked out again, plunging into another vision.

This time, it was worse. She was pretty sure she felt herself drowning. This is it, she thought. I think I’m gonna die for real. She was surrounded by terrible visions again, and this time it just felt so surreal. She could hear the thunder and lightning, the raging waves surrounding her as she once again failed to maneuver the ship…

And then darkness.

Camelia woke up at seven, laying on her sister’s bed. Her head still throbbed a little, and she had a fever.

Seeing her sister’s tired complexion, Alissa feigned sorriness.

“Sis, are you okay?” she asked. Then her voice changed, now dripping with toxicity. “Or did you turn into a psychopath? ‘Cause you wet your pants last night, you incompetent, juvenile, immature baby.”

Camelia stared at the window. Great, she thought sarcastically. The first thing I want to see when I wake up is my “kind and caring“ sister. But she was too weak to defend herself, so she just let the words hit her, a single tear rolling down her emotionless, weak face.

When Alissa finally went back to scrolling on her phone, Heather slapped her face. “Wow. What a snobby diva. I can’t believe that girl–she’s just so ruthless!”

“I’m just glad I get to stay in with you, even though your parents were telling me to go outside and enjoy the sunlight with them,” Heather said, sitting on Camelia’s mattress, next to where she was laying down.

“You’re kidding me, right?” Camelia asked, laughing.

“No, I’m serious, they did, but that would be as boring as heck.”

Camelia sat up on her bed, watching the waves go by outside the window for a while. “Don’t you think it’s time to take action?” she asked.

Looking up from her journal, Heather thought for a moment. “Huh, that’s true, but there’s no way anyone would believe a girl, her coincidental night terrors and her best friend. Who would even listen?”

“Well, I guess it’s worth a try…” Heather declared hopefully.

“Wait, no. That sounds way too crazy to believe,” Camelia argued. “I’ll be humiliating myself- and giving my sister something to laugh about. I think we should just stop- it’s worthless. But it is worth a try- you’re right…”

As they went out the door, her sister’s words echoed in her head, which made her have second thoughts about what they were doing.

A moment later, the girls had been to most of the populated places in the ship. They were hopeful before, but now things weren’t looking so good.

“That sounds like you’re just stressed… It’s just a small worry,”

“Nonsense! What sort of story are you trying to spin?”

“Try deep breathing or medication.”

Their last resort was to convince the front desk.

“There is a storm being forecasted, but don’t worry- it won’t hit us.”

“Please,” pleaded Camelia desperately. “Your lives could be in grave danger!”

Heather, meanwhile, sighed and looked back. “Come on, Camelia. We should just give up,” she said.

“No, their lives will be in danger!” she argued.

“What’s the point of telling if everyone thinks it’s some far-fetched nightmare?” Heather sighed, running back to their room frustratedly.

“Sorry,” Camelia turned and ran to Heather. “Wait, Heather! Come back here. Please!”

Heather looked at her. She was losing patience now. “As I said, there’s no point.” Then she walked away.

Camelia sighed confusedly. What could have happened to my friend to trigger her like this? She’s usually optimistic- even worse, she said she’d trust me!

Camelia decided to text Heather instead. “Hey, are you okay? You said you’d trust me…”

To her disappointment, Heather wasn’t online. I guess I’ll go back to my room now.

When she came back to her room, she called out to Heather.

“Heather!” But someone interrupted her. It was Alissa. “How was your day, fortune-teller?

Your little friend stormed in here looking all disappointed just now,” she said. “You don’t deserve to be friends with her, you know?”

She looked at Heather teasingly, but Camelia thought it looked like she was hypnotizing her.

Just then, a huge wave rocked the boat. “You see, I was–” said Camelia, eager to give her sister her “see-I-told-you-so” moment.

But then Heather grabbed Camelia by the arm, dragging her out the door and slamming it.

“Heather Carys. What do you think you’re doing?” asked Camelia.

Heather didn’t reply. She just pulled her by the arm, running down the halls and into the lift.

“We gotta go fast–the storm got worse,” explained Heather, gasping and panting as they ran down another hallway.

“I know, but just–where are we going?” her friend asked.

“To the bridge,” she replied. Camelia tugged firmly on her friend’s arm.

“Are you crazy? Look, Heather. I don’t think there is even just a 0.9995% chance that they’ll let us in there,” she said.

“No- just believe me, Camelia.” As a heavier wave slammed towards the boat, they could feel it tilting a little to one side. “We should hurry.”

The moment they arrived on the bridge, they knocked on the door. “Excuse me,” said Heather. “Could we please talk to the Captain?”

There was no answer.

They tried several other methods to open the door- pulling and pushing it, knocking harder, kicking it… Nothing worked.

“We should just give up. “

Then the lights went out, and the strongest wave yet shoved the boat hard.

Now you should panic, Camelia thought.

“Holy heck, where are you? I can’t see a thing in here,” said Heather, making her way through the dark.

“I’m right here,” replied Camelia, shining her phone’s flashlight on her. “Lucky for me, my phone’s on… Oh, shoot.” Camelia’s phone blacked out. “Dammit, there’s low battery,”

Then they heard someone scream as another wave lashed the boat violently, sending them to the wall. Camelia could feel a strong backlash coming- a swaying sensation that rebounded a few times. She tried to think of something that she could try to do right now, but she couldn’t think of anything else but the Titanic.

There won’t be enough lifeboats…You’re going to die…

Snapping out of her thoughts, she tried not to panic too much. You’ll be fine…

“Camelia!” someone screamed. “Wait, what?” she asked frantically. Then a tall figure came falling next to them. “Sister! I need your help! Please! I’m sorry!”

Camelia felt confused. What was going on? She looked at Alissa, who was hyperventilating, after being tossed across the deck.

Are you ok, Alissa? Heather asked.

Alissa nodded.

“Calm down. Let’s take this one step at a time, then we’ll talk, okay?”

Then she turned away and sighed. I can hear “My Heart Will Go On” in my head right now… So much for watching the Titanic movie with my friends last week.

And that’s when the door to the office opened.

Camelia gasped, looking back at it.

“Is there anyone out there?” a voice asked. “Are you alright?”

“Yeah, we’re fine,” said Camelia, picking herself up.

Heather looked at Camelia. “Should we tell them about the dream thing?” she whispered.

“....No,” Camelia answered. “Don’t,”

Heather looked at Camelia. “Please, Camelia. Let’s tell them. It would be worse not to tell…”

At this point, Camelia was overfilled with frustration. I’m pretty sure I’m about to go crazy. “THEY. WON’T. BELIEVE US!” she shouted.

At this moment, Camelia didn’t care about anything.

Heather looked at her in shock and confusion. Then all she did was turn away and cry.

Rage burned inside of Camelia. She was so sick of having to worry about people not believing her and Heather telling her it would be alright. It drove her crazy.

“You’re so useless, Heather! What happened to you promising me that you’d support me?”

But what happened next was quite surprising.

Alissa put her hand on Camelia’s shoulder. “You should tell them, Camelia. It’s better to not hold it in, even if they don’t believe you. Because I do, and I’m sorry for treating you this way.”

“Okay then,” Camelia shrugged.

When Camelia explained everything, she felt like her heart was in her mouth and the same thought kept racing around her mind. What if they don’t believe me?

At first, the crew were shaking their heads in disbelief. But when Camelia started to have more confidence in herself, they started to listen.

“I think this prediction has a deeper meaning…”

Thinking hard, Camelia remembered something from her dreams. I was the one in control of the ship! That means… What if my dream was about my worries of losing control of something important I’m doing…!?

Camelia took a deep breath at the thought of her ray of hope. “We can abort the crash course. But I’m the one who needs to figure this out.”

For the first time, she finally felt independent or in charge of something. You can do this, Camelia. Heather and your family need you!

Smiling at the thought of her best friend, she stepped forward, then hesitated. All eyes were on her right now, as if they were expecting something from her.

Alissa smiled at her encouragingly. “You can do this, Camelia!”

She nodded. “I can, but there’s not much time left!”

Determination filled her. As she took everything she knew from all the movies and books she had read, she took a deep breath.

With shaky fingers, she dialed the radar system and punched numbers in. Please tell me this will work, she thought.

Trying not to focus on the stormy waves and the boat constantly lurching slightly, she typed the message in and crossed her fingers, hoping for the best.

A minute later, the waves around them had started to crash aboard the ship. Camelia’s heart pounded. Please, please, please let there be a message, she thought.

It seemed like all hope had been lost when the radar beeped and a message appeared.

Camelia intercepted it, then gasped.

Directions for a route to abort the original destination appeared on the navigation system.

“...I did it. I did it!” She didn’t want to be too triumphant about it though, as she wasn’t the kind that seeked attention a lot.

Heather and Alissa hugged Camelia. “Good job, sis! But how did you do it…?”

“It’s a long story. I’ll tell you later.”

They left for their room after the crew thanked them, but Camelia had one favor to ask them.

“Please keep this a secret,”

When they had finally gotten back to the stateroom, Camelia’s parents swarmed her. “What happened? We were so worried..” Camelia sighed. “Looks like I’ve got a lot of explaining to do,” she said, giggling.

She plopped herself onto her bed. “So you know the visions I had?”

“They were mostly me maneuvering the ship and then losing control, and you know I usually prefer not to be in charge of things, right? Well I guess it meant I had to try being in control for once…”

Her parents nodded in understanding. “We’re sorry for being so overprotective, Camelia. We were just so worried about you,”

Heather nodded too. “I’m so sorry for losing patience with you..”

Camelia hugged her and laughed playfully. “It’s okay!”

The next day, Camelia woke up feeling fresh. She walked out onto the balcony, rubbing her eyes and looking up at the boundless ocean. Then Alissa called her from inside.

“I’m coming!” replied Camelia. “Camelia, do you want to go hang out downstairs? Ask Heather if she wants to join.”

She nodded. “Sure.”

As they walked down to the pool, Camelia talked to her sister. “I’m glad we finally get to enjoy this vacation,” said Camelia, smiling at her sister.

“Yeah, and I’m sorry for being so mean to you…I was so jealous of you and Heather, because I just lost a friend. Did I not tell you that..?” said Alissa.

“I’m sorry, I should have known—you can talk to me if you want to,” Heather replied.

Alissa smiled. “Thanks. Okay. We are more than friends, right?

“We’re sisters!” said Camelia.

“True,” Heather said, hugging them both.

Therefore, having conquered her control, Camelia never had another vision again.



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