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“Don’t be sad” John said. “Just be Here”.
He put his arm over his niece’s shoulder as they both sat down on the semi-wet granite rock overlooking the sea. They gazed aimlessly out into the vast, barely discernible horizon, separating a grey sky from a brown sea. Everything around them seemed electrified: the sky was angry, and the ocean was boiling with phytoplankton. Even the rockface seemed to flicker with white and black specks, like a white noise signal on a terrestrial TV screen. It was another strange day as the crisis entered its fifth month.
Over the beach and across to the other side of the bay, another wave of refugees was arriving: after the wet bulb temperature refugees and the sea level rise refugees, now it was the turn of the phytoplankton refugees. They just kept coming from all directions, it didn’t matter from which country. Hunger knows no nationality. It is a country whose borders can shift overnight.
Some of them had found refuge in abandoned seaside properties left behind by those who had fled to better options, as sulphur dioxide emissions from the phytoplankton turned many away from the coast for good. Others, less lucky, lived anywhere they could find. The beachfront property market had collapsed. But John stayed. He had a bond with the sea. He wasn’t going to abandon her in her moment of sickness.
“She’s too sick to take care of us anymore. But she’ll be back one day, I can assure you” he whispered into the top of Aspen’s head as he stroked her arm. All he could see was her straight, black hair. Her face was turned into his chest, as she began to cry in silence. John saw a silver flash as a tear fell onto his shirt, quickly disappearing into the fabric like a falling star. He held her closer as he leaned towards her. They both stayed completely still, as the wind played with their hair.
George is an author, researcher, podcast host, chemist, molecular biologist and food scientist. You can follow him on Twitter @99blackbaloons , listen to his Spotify podcast George reads George, sign up for blog alerts below, or enjoy his books