- Vol. 07
- Chapter 01
Swallow Me Whole
I was seven when I noticed the ocean seemed closer than it had before. Before, when I would play on the beaches with the neighbor’s children, the sparkling sand would stretch far ahead of me, reaching towards the rolling blue ocean beyond where my eye could see. Now, I stood on the front stoop of my house and observed the way the ocean waves lapped at fine white sand, splashing dangerously close to where I hid my toys from the neighbor’s infant child, who had a habit of stealing. I made a mental note to move my toys, and gave little thought to the matter.
I was eight when my parents announced we were moving inwards. My dad had found a better job downtown, and since we didn’t have a car (roads were too narrow) and the daily trip on bike would be difficult (the tires sank right into the soft sand), they decided it would be more convenient if we simply relocated somewhere closer. I packed my few things with the appropriate amount of reluctance and anger of a child being uprooted from the home she’d known her entire life, but I didn’t fail to notice how most of our coastal neighbors were also moving away from the ocean.
I was nine when the helicopters came to take us away. The ocean was rising and closing in on us, they said. By nine, I knew that was the real reason my parents had chosen to move – a few months after we’d packed our things and sold the house, the ocean swallowed the building completely, leaving little trace behind of the place I once called home. My parents had hoped it would be enough if we moved closer to the center, hoping to wait it out until I finished school at least. But we lived on a small island and there was only so far you could go. At nine, I didn’t quite understand the implications of what would happen if the ocean continued to rise, but I held little emotional value to our new home anyways, having only lived there a year, so I wasn’t too sad to go.
Swallow Me WholeAs the helicopter rose higher into the air, I pressed my sticky face against the glass windows and traced the shape of my island home over and over in my mind, trying to imprint the shape of the jagged shores and jutting cliffs into memory. It was the first time I’d realized how small the island was, a small green pebble against a vast blue backdrop.
I was twenty when I returned to the island. Only, there was no more island. As the helicopter circled endlessly in the sky above where the land should’ve been, I pressed trembling hands against the glass and squinted at the water for a sign, any sign, of the home I’d once known, wondering how an entire island could be swallowed just like that.