The beach erodes. An entire diner was consumed in less than 13 hours, swallowed by the maw of the ocean. Our transistor explodes like blue fireworks. Just a few feet from the kitchen door, a gunshot of electricity in the rain.
We go down to the pier to watch the waves, yellow coats and rubber boots. The ocean rips away the shore, drags horseshoe crabs beneath the current. The eelgrass is dead.
Our home is drowning. Whimbrels search for saltmarsh. We look through each other at bobbing seal heads and whitecaps.
There used to be oysters here. Thick reefs. They are less than a percent, sickly shells float beneath the surface. Pale faces reflect in the moonlight, the tide rolling over travelers. Men are bludgeoning birds and bludgeoning seals and bludgeoning whales and bludgeoning cows and bludgeoning other men. Blood stains the rocks. Blood stains the trees. A lonely egg. The moon watches. Birds screech. Rowers dip their paddles into the bay.
Fishnets swell and shrink. The earth paints herself over with horsetails and ferns. Lizards and whales. Changing her clothes from redwoods to mastodons.
We sit on the dock where land meets sea. Intentions of dead men form thunderclouds. We squeeze our wet hands together. Salt spray rolls down our faces. We’re strangers and not strangers. We breathe the smell of brine.
Seals swim in the harbor, waiting for fishing boats. Jellyfish glow. We strip off our clothes and jump into the bay. Submerged, the entire ocean pushes against us.
Sand runs through our toes.
We wonder why we are together. I want to tell you I accept death, but not suffering. Numbness is a palliative. The days unfurl in soapy hands and discourse. Music floats through our heads. Crashing, foam, piano keys. Pollen accumulates on sills. Succulents grow roots to nowhere. We have a jar of rubber bands. Bottles mark the days.
From above, lights below flicker into darkness.
We drive down flooded streets. Headlights reflect off wet roads. The water has nowhere to go. It flows into basements. It carries bodies, lightbulbs, pesticides. Car exhaust swirls into ponds. Chokes frogs, and fish, and plants.
Everything is chaos. Our head is a bleached reef. Coral reduced to nothing, starved seahorses search for their home. We soak the car seats. Plant debris whips across our windshield.
Our headlights fade into decomposing leaves.
Inside we can hear branches cracking. Wind pushes over pine and sumac, rips the powerlines down. We lay in the dark with a flashlight. Blood dries to our skin. We think about the flowers we wanted to plant. Lavender, coreopsis, black-eyed susans. Outside the ground thaws, wet with mud.
We are unaware of distant days. Blue sky, copper beech and swollen oaks. Our minds blur like wet ink.
Incapable of taking it all in, there’s a cloud in our ribcage. We feel like a trampled meadow. The connective tissue of a smashed turtle. Water rises and rises. Sadness pours through the windows. We hang on a hook waiting for our fate, fade into sheets and sleep. We thought we were trying to make each other happy. We were trying to protect each other from grief.
Gabrielle Griffis is a musician, writer, and multimedia artist. She works as a librarian on Cape Cod. Her fiction has been published in or is forthcoming from Wigleaf, Split Lip Magazine, Monkeybicycle, XRAY Literary Magazine, Necessary Fiction, Gone Lawn, Matchbook, and elsewhere. You can visit her website at gabriellegriffis.com or follow her at @ggriffiss.
Photography by Keith Luke