I wrote this a couple months ago as an experiment in rewriting a Chinese fairy tale by Pu Songling as slipstream flash fiction. The original story is simply titled Earthquake. I hope you like it!
I told her about when I was five, on a camping trip to North Carolina, a bear had come into our campsite. My mother was inside the RV, changing into hiking gear. My brother told me she heard me crying and when she came out the bear was standing right on the other side of the table, looking at me. My mother swung into action. She threw her backpack at the bear and started shrieking at it. The bear, suddenly under attack from a madwoman, actually backed up a few steps before squatting down and staring at us both. By this point, my mother's screams had alerted our neighbors and they came running with axes and air-horns. The bear went away and my mother snatched me up in her arms. She pointed at the bear and held me tight against her chest, describing what had happened to the assembled neighbors. At some point it dawned on her that she was only wearing her panties and bra. Her face went white and off she sprinted back to the RV.
Somehow these were linked in my mind, the earthquake and the bear, how when seized by panic, men and women forget themselves. We laughed, both at my mother and her neighbors as we began picking up what had fallen and shattered.