“NO!” he thunders. “We will not go!”
The children shy away, shrink into the kitchen’s corner, away from Grandpa’s ire.
“We must go,” his son asserts softly. “There is nothing left for us here.”
“Nothing?!” Grandpa cries. “Is it nothing for a man to work his own land? Make a living with his own good hands?” He raises them, brown and gnarled, forms them into fists and shakes them in the face of his son.
He strides to the door and bangs it forcefully shut behind him. Emerges from dimness into light; a sun that beats down boldly on his aching head, his throbbing hands, his tortured heart.
He storms angrily away, across the field with its abundance of cassava plants budding bright in the spring sun, ripe with the rain. How can they even think of going?
His fury overwhelms. Irate, he forgets to turn back, to retreat before he reaches the edge, the threat he does not wish to perceive, not now, not today. But it’s too late, he’s seen it already, the water leaking into the farthest furrows, encroaching upon the edge of the field. His field.
Cursing, he bends towards the withering flowers and branches, smells the salt. He feels the loathing rise again in his heart, the hatred of his people’s greatest and most ancient treasure, the source of their bounty and succor of their souls.
The wall has again failed, has let in the seawater that laps along the coast, along an ever-decreasing coast.
He turns his back on it and glares out over the remaining field, the remaining furrows filled with crops. Good fertile land but less and less of it every season, less with which to feed his family; to feed any family.
His son is waiting when he returns, gazing, like him, at the farm: half-alive, half-vanished, half-vanquished, half-gone. His grandchildren sit giggling in the dirt at its edge, patting the soil into cakes and then smashing them, sending the earth flying.
“We are going,” his son repeats. “You must come, too.”
Grandpa shakes his head hard, shakes his fists harder. “No, my son,” he pronounces with conviction. “I will not go. I will not be a squatter on another man’s land; earn my living by begging on doorsteps; become a scavenger, a vagabond, a homeless wanderer. A man does not abandon his native land!”
His son glances over at his children, playing cheerfully in the dirt, the soil of the country he loves, too; was born and raised to revere.
“We are not abandoning the land,” he answers quietly. “It is abandoning us.”
And then they are gone. Grandpa remains. He watches season after season as the lapping at the shore grows nearer and louder, enveloping the field and farm while he hovers at its edge, kicking the dirt, savaging the earth fast fleeing his feet.
It draws ever closer, the sea he despises. At last even his memories descend into its maw: the cakes fly no more; his grandchildren choke on a slurry of swept-away soil.
Lori Schafer is a writer of serious prose and humorous erotica and romance. Her short stories, flash fiction, and essays have appeared in numerous print and online publications, and her first two novels, My Life with Michael: A Story of Sex and Beer for the Middle-Aged and Just the Three of Us: An Erotic Romantic Comedy for the Commitment-Challenged, will be released in 2015. Her memoir, On Hearing of My Mother’s Death Six Years After It Happened: A Daughter’s Memoir of Mental Illness, will be published in October 2014. You can find out more about Lori and her forthcoming projects by visiting her website at lorilschafer.com.