Climate Of Change

Entry by: Seaside Scribbler

4th December 2015

Without electricity, dusk comes thickly in, creeping into the edges of my vision as I dig potatoes and reminding me of the shortness of the days. Summer is long gone; the grey clouding whispers and hurries me home, for it's at dusk that my day outside ends. I fret, as I do every day just now, that there are simply not enough daylight hours left for me to do everything that must be done to prepare for winter.

This winter will be harsh; I can tell by the extra fruiting Earth is giving. What birds are left will have an abundance of food, but perhaps not enough for them to survive the cold. I've built homes in the barns and filled them with warm wool. I've strengthened the barn walls on every side, for the winds that howl here will do so with more force than ever this year. My instincts are always right. if you're in tune with Earth, you're in tune with all of Her systems.

And they called me crazy.

But no matter, because they're mostly all dead now, and I'm alive. That's what happens when you don't listen to all the crazy people. For a while it was like I died, too, but that first winter was easier than it could have been. Mild and wet, I had time to adjust and a whole year to get ready for the next. This, my third, will be the worst yet, but I'm ready.

By the time darkness comes I've got wood in, stoked the fire and got a stew bubbling; made ready my bed and latched all the windows, put the bar across the door because... just in case. The whispers in my head might one day come from outside. It's guilt, I know. Guilt that I didn't try harder to make them listen. Guilt has a voice and a spirit and lives here with me. But so does Contentment and certain Joy at how I have survived and at how the wind blows and how my food grows. They live together with me, uneasy bedfellows tucked deep under my pillows.

What do I miss? Not much, now. It took a while to stop looking for the light switches when I first woke; to remember that a cup of tea took longer to make. I still miss hot baths but they are not impossible; just time and energy-consuming - mine and my woodstore's. I have one every few months and try not to remember the warm spicy infusions I'd lain in for hours, topping up and topping up the hot when it cooled against my skin... What luxury we had, and didn't even notice. Strange fact: it's more of a luxury now. Luxury is something you don't have any more. Electricity. Supermarkets. The internet.

I don't dwell on this stuff. I live in the present as much as I can, unless the present gets a little too close, like it does in the storms. Without my roof I'd have nothing and no way to properly fix it so it's maintenance, vigilance and care. It's weighted and solid and has seen me through a force eleven (that's the new force eleven, you understand.)

Looking forward is the only way to go and it's easier without alcohol and television and books to remind me what's out there. What I could have, what I need and therefore want, how my life will be so different if if if. I don't miss that manic grabbery of Black Friday and SALE! and Christmas greed. I don't miss the taking of what half the world didn't have in the first place. I don't miss hearing about war and ISIS and bombs and refugees so desperate they did, in the end, become bad people. Everyone did. All of us good people who worked hard and had no more to give and no room and free healthcare that we could never share - we all became bad too. I'm dwelling on stuff I shouldn't dwell on. I look forward.

I eat my stew and place some aside for breakfast. Tomorrow the base of it will be the beginning of my next meal, like a tribe I can't remember the name of did time ago so long I can't remember either. I struggle to keep my words in the right order. I talk to myself, so my voice doesn't go. I talk to animals, when I see them. I talk to my 360 horizon from my Watch Tree and tell it not to let anyone over the edge.

My island. My future. One I deserve after everything I did, everyone I tried to tell. And the guilt that I took nobody with me - well, I'll live with it and know it's because they should never have called me crazy.

I don't know how old I am any more. I was thirty-two when it all began to go wrong and I was born in 2008 and now it's 2058 - I think. The bad years confuse themselves in my mind and I no longer know how long the war was, or how long the storm years were. I have tried to count up but I get confused and I lost my diaries that I was going to have published when it was all over. Ha! So I might be fifty. I still bleed, so maybe not.


It's a morning like any other. I get up when it's light and not before. My face is probably unlined from all the sleep I get and all the smiling I don't do, but I threw my last mirror into the sea some time ago. I catch my reflection in windows in the dark but as the glass breaks this opportunity is getting less. I don't like it; I look like a ghost - a suggestion of who I remember overlined with hair and layers of clothing. Better when all glass is wood.
I go out to wash and pick an apple off my tree (seventeen apples this year - this tough little tree is surviving and giving) and take a walk to my Watch Tree. It's habit, to make sure I am still alone.

I hoist myself up, loving the feel of my body working, careful because a break would be the beginning of the end for me, and see something on the horizon. Immediately I hide, although whatever it is, is too far away. It'll be some kind of human flotsam - one of the last planes, a bit of ship, something not human. But it comes closer and I see it has a sail.

No time. I leap down, hurting my knees, stumble back to my bothy, get my guns (oh yes, I am peaceful, until it comes to thinking about who survived and what they might do to me) and barricade the doors with the strong bars. In all this time I've never had to do this but I practise until it can all be done in just mere minutes, like now, when it only takes me ten, which I know is time for the boat to land and walk up here and bang on the door and and and

And I am panicking. I still my heart by breathing long and deep like a diver and centering myself. My hand on the wood of the barrel is strong and safe. I can look after me, like I always did like I always will.

There is no knock. Nothing happens. Eventually my breathing gets too loud in the complete silence, and I get up from my cramped position in the centre of the room, where I crouch ready.

I go to the door. And take off the bar. I walk outside. Step by step like this I am safe. There's nobody and I think that probably I was hallucinating but the only way to check will be to go down to the beach and take a look. I don't want to do that. If I don't, I won't sleep due to the imaginings.

The beach is down an old slipway form whaling times the other side of electricity - before it was here - and it's slippery with mud and leaves from my stunted trees. I can't see anything at first and I am starting to have a word with myself for maybe being crazy after all, but then I go round the bend where it gets steeper and see it.

It's a boat, real as the rocks. It's rough, the sale looks to be made out of six others, all stitched together like a giant's patchwork hanky. It's caught on the rocks, lurching as it rests, rocking a shape inside from side to side. I grip my gun harder and watch. The shape has limbs and a head and there's a mess of stuff around it. But it's not moving.

I am awfully ashamed of the first thing that comes to me, an unwanted and hateful thought - meat. I hit myself around the head and shake it, because, NO.

I approach. It does look dead. As I get closer I see it's a mass of rags with skinny limbs sticking out. There's a head under a bird's nest of hair. Around it are empty boxes, material, an old rug, a mangy pillow. Some bones. A fish's head. When I'm close enough to touch, I stop and speak a word. I don't know what I say. What do you say to someone who's dead? It does not stir so I poke it with the butt of my gun. No movement, but there's a soft noise, like a child asleep.

A child? I lift the rags off the face and see young skin, sunburn, dirt, cracked lips. I stare and stare. For how long I don't know but eventually somehting kicks in and I pick up the bundle - so light, too light - and take it home. The boat I leave where it is. I don't care if it floats away; I have no need of it.

Inside the house the same thing that kicked in earlier makes me make hot water and soup. I wash and undress and redress and find myself singing. The human is a child of teenage years perhaps. She doesn't stir. I try not to hurt her soft skin under my rough hands, but cannot help scratching her a little as I clean the muck off her cheeks. She does not move. She is thin like one of those cows we used to see paraded on our screens with GIVE GIVE GIVE scrolling away underneath (so we gave, but nobody gave to us, when the time came), with ribs sticking out and knee bones and elbows like hammers. I make her warm and put her in my bed and try to feed her soup. It drips down her chin but some must go in because she moves her lips, just the tiniest bit. Something flutters in me, a feeling I don't know. Something warm and good. And terrified because what if I kill her, accidentally? She must be close to death. Out of a dusty box in the rafters I find a book on survival and read about being gradual so after a few sips I stop, and wait.

All night long I sit and look at her and in the cold light of morning I will her to live. I feed her more soup. It is evening before something happens. I have assumed she will die because the feeling of hope is too much to bear. I left people for a reason. But there's a flicker across her face, a twitch in her eyes. She opens them and I see her focussing on me. I wait for her fear, but she fixes me with amber-flecked blue eyes, the colour of the sky, and I see relief. And recognition. A mirror, looking back at me.

We smile... together.