[picture credit: sad ghost club]
The sky darkens as lightning illuminates and large chunks of the night sky hurtle toward the scarred and weather beaten roof. Every fragment that slams into the ramshackle home causes carefully framed photographs on the wall to silently hit the ground.
Mara sobs as she clutches a black and white still of her grandfather. If she can save nothing in this home then let this be the one exception. Let it all fall apart around her; there are only stale memories left on these four walls and they’re certainly not worth keeping.
The picture frame painfully presses against her rib cage as the wind picks up and takes the warped front door with it.
If I survive this, she thinks to herself, I will write a book that tells of this day. It will begin like this…
+ [Three years prior] +
This is how the world slowly dies.
Car horns shriek periodically and voices carry along the stifling heat of the day. Mara shifts the picket sign that she’s carrying onto the other hand as she wipes sweat from her brow then pushes the hair away from her eyes.
I will finish what he started, she thinks to herself.
She is nearly the mirror image of her grandfather with piercing green eyes, solid black hair and olive skin. As a child she’d been mercilessly teased for being thicker around the middle and having developed curves two years earlier than most. Night had found her sobbing on her stomach in her bedroom more often than not.
It didn’t help that her mother encouraged such abuse. She’d take hold of Mara’s curls and drop them as if they existed only as an insult to her. And then there were the magazines – fitness, yoga – you name it and they’d arrived in a steady stream every other month.
Despite this Mara had learned to love herself in a way that her mother never could. After her mother had passed when Mara was only fifteen she’d taken herself shopping. She purchased items that her mother would’ve regarded with disgust – flowy skirts in bold colors (“Girls of your size wear black or gray, Mara. When I was your age I loved skirts of all shades but you cannot afford that luxury I suppose. I was so thin then.”), leggings (“Leggings are not pants and I will not spend my hard earned money on something that belongs under something rather than as the primary piece of clothing”), tunics in many prints (“What did I tell you about prints? I only forbid them because I love you. You know this, right?”), t-shirts of her favorite bands and movies (“That’s Satan’s music, Mara. How dare you bring it into my home?”).
She did not mourn. Somewhere in her heart she knew she should feel hollow, sickened by the loss but all that remained was relief.
In the years that followed she’d battled a love/hate relationship with her own body and found it hard to dispel her mothers hurtful words but she wasn’t one to give up.
Because of this fierce stubborn streak (that she shared with her late grandfather) she’d thrown herself into a movement to educate others about the dangerous state of Earth and how the world as we know it might cease to exist should they continue along that path. She hadn’t stumbled upon this passion on her own. Her grandfather had spent more than half of his adult life fighting the same battles over and over only to be spat upon and ridiculed. He’d passed three months prior and Mara had held his hand one last time; had promised him she’d carry on his legacy.
A man with a backwards hat and a ripped plaid shirt leans out of the passenger side of a pickup truck and grins as he yells. “Leftist nutjob!”
Mara is used to criticism. It no longer effects her.
She hoists the sign higher.
It’s over, she thinks to herself.
I have survived.
She carefully stands on wobbling legs and shoves aside debris. Dust fills the air until she’s coughing and guzzling the water bottle she’d taken with her when she’d sought shelter.
The sky is pitch black despite the early afternoon hour and she struggles to see her own hands. There is a deathly calm in the air as she slowly kicks aside shards of glass and pieces of her own home – they’re nothing more than heaps of damaged goods now. Useless.
The catastrophic event has done nothing to cool the earth and if she had a temperature gauge it’d likely top out at one hundred and twenty degrees.
As she peers into the darkness she feels a heavy weight on her chest, a sinking feeling. We did this, we destroyed the only planet that we had left. Is it not enough that we have wrecked the others? Is there even a purpose in trying to begin again?
With a heavy sigh she tucks the framed photo under her arm and begins the long walk into town.
Maybe now they’ll listen, she thinks to herself.
We’ve no choice but to preserve what little remains.