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


Steve Green said...

what a beautifully written take on impending doom. Facing inevitable death with that kind of courage is something that we could all aspire to, as opposed to scrabbling futilely for survival, which is what most of us probably would do, the survival instinct in us over-riding the logic.

Chuck Allen said...

A very interesting scenario; thought provoking. And the writing had a poetic feel to it. Nice story!

FARfetched said...

Great take on the Big Wave story. I have to admit, I wouldn't just face it like that; I'd try to escape no matter how futile.

Icy Sedgwick said...

Interesting take on the idea - how many people would decide to just accept it, and how many would try to escape? I guess there would be no escape, and you've captured that wonderfully.

Tim VanSant Writes said...

The physics in this is wrong, but I think you got the human element just right.

Sulci Collective said...

elegiac for the whole human race somehow

Jack Holt said...

Really nice stuff, Virginia. Reminded me of the scene on the beach in Deep Impact.

I'm with Larry, too - I'd be trying all sorts in an effort to survive!

R E Hoskins said...

Very good, Virginia, reflective and poetic.

John Wiswell said...

Some gorgeous language, particularly in the second paragraph and in the handling of the meteor later on.

Nerine Dorman said...

Very poignant. I like it a lot. I've often thought what a situation similar to this must be like and how I'd deal with it.