She had forgotten the sound of the ocean, living now as she did inland from the unreliable cities, which daily faced a pounding that anyway was not the sound she yearned for.
There had been talk not so many years back of sea level rise, always expressed in millimeters, like the drip drip drip of a tub that wouldn't quite shut off. It had sounded gentle, even aggravatingly slow, like the sequel of a movie announced five years out that you're not sure you'll even live to see.
No one had said the water wouldn't just rise but come from every other angle, too—as deluges from the sky above, as floods rolling down from the mountains or as walls of water crashing in from an angry sea. The gentle, relaxing lapping of waves, and with it any sense that the ocean was ever even benevolent, had fallen away.
Why hadn't they said? OK, they said. But they didn't cry out, like you would if a tidal wave was coming fast. And this was really that—a tidal wave—just slowly, to be assembled in parts, like a jigsaw puzzle.
But unlike a jigsaw puzzle, there was no order to the pieces. Just a box full of leftovers, a chaos that was refuse of many once-orderly puzzles belonging to lots of people, and a prayer just to happen upon a couple of pieces that sort of fit.
The rain was pounding, but the weatherman didn't think it would flood too badly in the next few hours. So maybe this was a time to sleep and prepare for the onslaught anew. At least she was high up, away from the ocean.
But she missed the ocean, and she worried her memories of its once gentle nature might one day drown in a flood of too much reality.
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In early June 2014, my wife and I attended a writing retreat hosted by Cary Tennis at Le Santucce in Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy with a dozen or so other writers and soon-to-be friends. Last Saturday, almost 5 years later, some of us tuned in for a virtual reunion, and of course we did some writing as part of it.
The prompt to which this was a response, was “She had forgotten the sound of the ocean.” As today is Earth Day, it seemed a good day for me to share the piece with others.