The water that surrounds our island used to be like skin. It held in our beach sand and our leaning trees, our cliffs and running streams, our sloping fields and etched ravines. Like skin, it marked where the organism, that was our island, ended and the rest of the world began.
Until the change.
That’s when, as far as I can tell, the water began to resemble a space suit and the world around us became a void.
I was still fourteen the day it happened, my brother soon to turn twelve. It was summer. A real summer. The type of summer where the girls wore short-shorts, sunglasses were more than cool, and it made sense to eat ice cream! Sure, the nights were still cold, but hey…that’s why the grass stays green until July and the forest bears fruit more months than it doesn’t.
“You have to give up to get!” My Mom would say, when we complained about the chill night air, or any other time we wanted one too many things to go our way in a day. “Less is more,” was another of her favorites, which came to be proven both true and false. But, either way…she wouldn’t say such a thing today.
“The Great Change is coming!”
This one nearly got her killed, once it came true. Of course, what she’d meant back then was different than what happened. She’d meant climate change. The acidification of the oceans, Dead Zones and seas emptied of fish as jellies took their place. The melting of glaciers and the evaporation of six hundred thousand year old water. She’d meant the rampant desertification of prime farmland, a Tornado Alley that turned into a Tornado Super-Highway, and hurricanes that beached themselves on New York City. These things and more, were what my Mom had expected, but what we got was so much less.
What we got was a nothing no one could have imagined.
I first noticed the change when I woke up and tried to send a text. I was almost fifteen, and I was busy! There were friends to call, dramas to listen to, advice to give, hang out opportunities at the park or in the library, ice cream and sodas to buy, and summer movies to catch. If our one-screen movie theater had a good one playing, as it usually did.
So, I wasn’t too happy the first time I saw the error display all my friends were seeing at just about the same time. It was just before eight. The roosters were crowing and my Mom was yelling for my brother to let out the girls. I looked out the window and saw her, basket in hand, heading for the clothesline.
“You’ll survive a few hours without technology!” She called back, when he slid open the sliding glass door and complained that the computer wouldn’t start. Text-addicted teen that I was, I couldn’t bring myself to agree with her.
By ten, I was feeling frantic. Our cells still didn’t work, the electricity was out, and even the emergency wind-up radio we dug out of the storage closet, beside the candles we bought during the last snow storm, and a pile of old batteries already crusty with leaking acid…couldn’t pick up a signal.
My Dad shrugged, as he stood on the deck, staring out at five, fenced acres of golden, seed-topped grass, munching equines, foraging chickens, and carefully fenced off garden beds, berry bushes, and fruit trees. “Looks like I’ve got the morning off.”
But, he didn’t have the morning off. No sir. My Dad and every other person on our water-bound, cookie-cut out island, stood unknowingly on the precipice of a change more dramatic and traumatic than any war ever fought … any natural disaster ever recorded … any hallucinogenic drug or psychotic episode experienced.
You see, sometime during that cool Pacific Northwest night … the fog horns stopped. The ferries left and never came back, and the world beyond us … the distant snow-capped ranges, passing cargo ships, visiting orca pods, hill-smothering suburbs and sky-piercing city lights…all of it…just, up and disappeared.
And, we still don’t know why. We don’t know how. We just know what happened next.
~ The Beginning