One day in May you show me a video on your phone. A tsunami hit the Philippines and it’s all over Twitter. On your screen a wall of water plows through a city, lifting sedans like Matchbox cars. I watch things that should be permanent crumple like a child’s diorama.
In June you ask me, again, why I don’t want kids, and I try to remind you of this.
The one with the flood, I say. You shrug.
“I don’t remember that one.”
Late in July, a tropical storm hits. It knocks out our power and so we decide to play Scrabble by candlelight, to huddle together and do our best to ignore the rain that’s rattling the windows. We’ve decided to play themed Scrabble, my favorite of your inventions: we can only play words we’d find on a fancy restaurant menu: filet, reduction, scallop. In between turns, you run down your phone’s battery watching friends’ Instagram stories: people gallivanting across Italy, people singing karaoke in loud bars, people announcing pregnancies with bad body paint and puns. I don’t know why you stay with me when I won’t give you what you (and I) want most. You’re waiting for me to make a move, and I’m staring at a line of vowels that approximates the caterwaul of a cornered animal.
In August, the man on the television with cirrus clouds of grey hair says that countries all over the globe hit record highs for temperature. The map behind him is bright red, like Europe has a bad rash. When you ask me where we should settle down, all I can think of is somewhere that will be habitable in twenty years. In ten. In five.
We stay inside the next weekend because by then the heat has found us. Your phone chirps, warning us it’s dangerous to be out in the sun.
“No big loss,” you shrug. “We didn’t have any plans anyway.”
We settle on marathoning our favorite sci-fi movies with the air conditioning on high. The whole house hums and shudders, straining with the effort of keeping us cool, and I dread the spike in our electric bill. Halfway through Mad Max I turn to you, shivering, and ask, Can you imagine being a kid in a world like this? You nod, never looking away from the TV. I don’t even know if you heard me.
Virginia Eggerton has her MFA in fiction from George Mason University. When she’s not desperately reviving houseplants, she’s writing short fiction, some of which has been published by Wigleaf, The Citron Review, MoonPark Review, and Cease, Cows. You can find her on twitter @eggertonhere.
Cover Design by Karen Rile