Saturday, 11 February 2012

The Wave

The water is calm this evening. The sun sends us a red beam across the water, a final reminder of the beauty of our days, before the onset of darkness. The sky behind is pale blue, but once the sun goes down it will rapidly turn black, the stars will rise to shine on us for this - our last night.

It is hard to imagine it sitting here - sipping Rioja and nibbling salt and vinegar crisps, while we cook sausages on the campfire. Hard to face the fact of our deaths when we feel so alive in the warm glow of day's end.  Hard to realise this is the last time any of us will listen to the soft splash of the waves on the shore - the sound of the sea swaying  back and forth, back and forth till it reaches the high tide mark just below our feet. Today has been like any other summer day, we have surfed and swam, sunbathed and slept. Just another summer day except for this - we will camp out on this beach, we will live to see dawn and then we will die - our fate written in the stars over a century ago. Before our grandparents were born, before we were even dreamt of, two rocks collided in space thousands of light years away and the smaller piece was sent spinning on its inevitable trajectory towards us.

We could sit here filling the air with complaints about the unfairness of it all (and believe me, some of us have). If the scientists had finished their calibrations sooner, if we hadn't moved here to escape the smoggy dangerous city, if only we'd gone to Manchester as we'd planned...If,if,if...we'd be watching on TV like the rest of the horrified nation, instead of sitting here, with the cooling sand slipping between our toes, as the mournful gulls circle above us calling - aak,aak,aak.

We could have joined the futile escape. We could have spent today in endless traffic on the A30. We could have sat in our cars, with the temperature rising inside and out, as our cheese sandwiches congealed, and our engines overheated.

We could have stayed at home, as many have done. We could have bolted the doors, drawn the curtains, and sat under the duvet. We could have watched box sets of Star Trek or Friends, The Sopranos or House, Anything that helped us while away the time and pretend our world is not about to end.

But the wave will come for us whereever we are, and whateever we are doing. So we might as well come here to face it. To watch tomorrow, at 07:32 precisely, as the meteor flies above us. I expect it will be quite a sight - a trail of gold and orange, following the path of tonight's sunbeam, till it hits the ocean beyond the horizon. The sea will shudder to its very depths, drawing in its waters with the deepest of breaths. The water will recede far down the beach, exposing the seabed condemning all its inhabitants,sea bass, cockles, mussels, crabs, and snails to instant death in the dry air. And we will know, then, that the wave is coming for us. Five hundred feet of water racing towards us to sweep us all away.

It is hard to imagine it, sitting here on this perfect summer night. The sun departed, the first stars beginning to light the darkening sky. That tomorrow this will all be gone. We will all be gone. So we try not to. Instead we will sit by the campfire, telling each other the stories of our lives. Hands held in the darkness. Offering comfort in the face of what is to come.

The night will pass slowly. Watch with us if you can. When morning comes, we will be gone.

Copyright c @Virginia Moffatt 2012