Day Twelve of Thirty Days of Writing
Beth stared at the ocean as it licked the rocks that guarded her beachfront property. Years ago their house had sat 200 feet above the water, but now the waves met the top of the cliff. She sat on the porch with her government issued Sufate-Oxygen mask. It was the only way to breathe outside after the oceans had acidified. Beth refused when the government offered her relocation money. She was no Climate refugee. This was her home. She had lived here for fifty years, and she was going to die here.
“Darling, please come inside.” Her husband Arthur pleaded with her from the screen door. His voice was muffled from his mask.
“In a minute.” Beth stared out at the horizon, the gray clouds that had covered the sky for the last year, grew an orange tint at every sunset.
“They said it’s not good to be out there, even with the mask,” Arthur said, before turning and walking away from the windows.
She knew that Arthur still hoped they would flee north to meet up with their daughter and granddaughter, but Beth was staying put. What was life without the ocean? She had grown so accustomed to the rhythmic whispers of the water, and the echo of the slapping waves. The world was too quiet without it. Plus, she’d heard what life up north was like — crowded. No, she was fine here, just her and Arthur.
Her daughter had pleaded with her, as had Arthur, but this was her home. This was where Mary took her first steps. This is where she and Arthur had shared life together for over fifty years. Until death do us part, Arthur had promised fifty years ago, and he had promised again one year ago when they decided to stay. The hydroponics system in their basement, supplemented by their fifteen-year stock of vitamins to fill in the gaps, was capable of sustaining the two of them.
Beth heard a clatter of something against the rock, and sat up straight. She leaned forward, trying to get a glimpse of whatever was beating against the rock.
“Arthur come out here!” Beth yelled into the house. She heard his footsteps pad quickly toward the door.
“What’s wrong?” he asked from inside the screen. Arthur refused to go outside unless it was completely necessary.
“There’s something on the other side of the rocks,” Beth said, standing and moving to the end of the porch.
“Then get in here! You don’t know what that is, and you can’t help it whatever it is.” She could hear the irritation in his voice.
“No, I want to see it.” Beth said, although she knew she couldn’t go near it. Ocean water would burn the skin right off you if it caught you.
Arthur stormed out of the house as Beth started to walk down the steps. He grabbed her by the arm. “No, Beth.”
“I just need to get a little closer — ”
He tried to pull her back again. “Come on, Beth. You promised that if we stayed you wouldn’t do this.”
“Just — ” She tried to pull her arm away but he still had a tight grip for an old man.
A huge wave crashed over the rock. Water splashing fifteen feet from the porch. It was getting closer daily. When it ran back off the side of the cliff, Beth gasped.
A human skull rested next to the rock that guarded the top of the cliff. She looked into Arthur’s eyes with panic, and let him pull her inside.
Arthur sealed the door, and they both removed their masks. Beth fell into his chest and sobbed.
“Call Mary,” Beth whispered. “Maybe it’s time.”
Arthur stood still and pulled Beth closer to him, kissing the top of her head. She felt him nod.
“Tomorrow,” he said. He walked over to the record player that had been a gift from their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary and turned on their wedding song, “We’ve Only Just Begun” by The Carpenters.
“Tonight, we dance,” he said pulling her close to him and humming the tune.
Beth looked up and him and smiled weakly. “A kiss for luck and we’re on our way.