And When at Last the Seas Dry up as Well, Nothing Will Be Left but Salt and Sand

We awake, and every day the sand has crept a little closer. Soon the abandoned buildings at the edge of the village will be completely buried.

We used to play there sometimes, when I was a child. We would creep out and run to the ruins, and we would stifle our laughter just as we ducked into the cool watery shade of the buildings where we whispered – we always whispered there, so as not to disturb restless ghosts – of the people who used to live there: princesses, beautiful despairing princesses waiting in the towers for knights who would never come, and dragons, dragons keeping them there not out of spite, or hunger, but out of loneliness.

We would climb to the top of the very highest tower, and we would look out over the world and see the sand on the horizon; and though we were only children, we would despair.

Now, the sand has reached us, here in our village at the harsh edge of the world, and soon we too will be buried by it. And perhaps our children will live in the river, mermaids with their long hair tangling and binding them together, and perhaps, if they are lucky, and if they are stronger than our parents and our grandparents and our great-grandparents and all the rest of our ancestors, they will follow the river, and someday their descendants will reach the ocean, and they will climb out onto the beach and they will run to the ocean and it will reach with arms of foam and saltwater to reclaim them, like a mother, and our elder brothers and sisters will welcome our children home.

If our children can reach the sea, then surely they will deserve to return.

There is no hope for us, of course; we have always known that we are human. But perhaps the ever-advancing sand will drive our descendants into the river, and perhaps they will survive, and perhaps, if the world is kind to them, someday they will return to the sea.

The world is not often kind.

We sit on our porches with cups of lukewarm water and we watch the sand of the desert that the rest of the world has already succumbed to cover the castles of our childhood. And our bones rub against each other and grind themselves down into sand.