Monday, 12 April 2010

Sandbox - Jessica Patient

Sand collapses under each step, trying to capture and pull me under. It’s becoming harder to escape its grainy clutches. I clamber my way through the meshed branches. This used to be woodlands but now it’s another desert with only treetops sticking out of the ground. Sand starts trickling from the bulging golden-tinted clouds. There isn’t even time to moisten my cracked lips with a sip from my last water bottle. Grains jab my skin.

Some say it was China who first fired cloud-seeding pellets into the sky. Everyone rejoiced when they cured the droughts. But then deserts started shrinking. Rain turned to sand. Great drifts swept through cities. One-storey homes were buried, lost in orange hazes. Panic spread like bacteria. People claimed skyscrapers, stockpiled food and nested in boardrooms. It became a scramble to reach the highest point. Water became the new currency.

My boss wanted us to guard the paperwork but we were soon burning policies, sleeping in corridors and eating from vending machines. The water supply suddenly stopped reaching our floor.

“Come here, girl,” the proclaimed leader said.

He grabbed my arm, whispering that the reward would be bottled water. My dry throat didn’t complain as he tightened his grip. Water containers insulated the boardroom and touched the ceiling.

“We’re Adam and Eve,” he said, pushing me towards the conference table. He threw down a grubby sheet.

“Repopulation is priority,” He said, striding me.

His fingers crawled along my skin. Stubble scratched across my face. Kicks and punches made him whimper. I wasn’t going to bring up a child into a world that had run up against a full stop.

Squatting on the branch, sand levels escalate, swallowing more foliage. Stretching my arms high, trying to hold the bottle far away from the sand. It’s pelting so hard that tiny grains are clogging up my nostrils. Another branch creaks. My arm aches and quivers as the sand climbs over my chest. There have been whispers of people living on mountains. This bottle is my guarantee for shelter. The sand will not get this drop.

-Jessica has been published at The Pygmy Giant, 3:AM, and The Beat. Links to her other published works and blog can be found here - She lives in Bedfordshire, England.

-Photograph by Christopher Barrio