A Grandfather apologises to his Granddaughter for the atrocities he's caused.
|One Cloud-Filled Sky.
By Stephen A Abell - Tuesday 2nd March 2021.
Number Of Words - 988
"Take a look at that."
"That damned greyness."
"It's only cloud and fog. Grandpa."
"Oh Poppy, you're too young to remember. For you, this drab and dourness are normal. But, I can remember azure skies." The old man rocked back and forth in his porch chair. His waterproof clothes were covered in dewdrops of humidity. There was one pleasing thing in this whole hellish mess of a world. The constant dampness made it easy to conceal his tears. He wiped the saltwater and misty rain from his face. "I'm so profoundly sorry, Poppy."
The teenager turned to look at him. The cracks in his voice were becoming more frequent, and they bothered her. "It's not your fault, Grandpoppy."
"But it is dear. You see hindsight is twenty-twenty vision." He noted the confusion in her eyes. "You see, we did many wrong things, and sometimes we purposely did nothing. Now, after all these years, I can sit here and look out on this wet world and see we were foolish and wrong.
"Even in the sixties, we knew of climate change. Being in the beginning stages, we thought there would be enough time to rectify the problem. Humans, however, grow complacent. Look at you. You only know this," He gestured to the world past the porch's threshold, "and you accept it. You've seen cars, though you've never seen them running. We loved those destroyers. Advertisers' peddled them faultlessly, and over a few years, they went from a luxury item to a needed, and even a cherished, object. We drove everywhere. We grew negligent. My father took to sitting in his old Ford to listen to the sport because my mother loved her TV dramas.
"Next, the smog hit the cities, and everybody moaned, coughed, and fell ill. Though we knew it was chiefly due to the car exhaust, we nevertheless kept pootling about in the monsters. We couldn't give them up.
"And it just got worse. People became more selfish. My parents didn't possess much money, and we never left England's shores for our holidays. When your gran and I had your mother, we holidayed in Spain. Looking back, we only stayed in "English" communities so we could get our "Home" necessities. How daft is that? I never learnt Spanish, and I was never bothered about their culture. Those holidays' were wasted moments. But we had to have them. So we jumped on the planes and polluted our planet even more.
"Then came Greta and her drive to support the children of the world in having a future. I'm saddened to say I paid her no respect. I was in the camp of "Everything will turn out fine; it always does"." He paused for a second and looked at the edge of the wood as another tree toppled. "That's the second one today. There's too much damned moisture in the air. Poor trees are rotting in the waterlogged soil and humid air.
"Grandpa, you don't have to go on. We know all about this." She could see the droplets welling in the corners of his eyes. "They taught us all about the Climate Crisis in school."
"I know, Poppy, but I need to say it. I've never spoken like this before. Never took the blame for my stupidity and inability to act.
"I watched the weather change. The days got warmer. Seas rose as the ice melted. Deserts encroached further across the lands. Crops failed. Wells dried up. Forests caught fire. Floods caused havoc. Earthquakes became a frequent occurrence. Pandemics encircled the globe. People died, and I kept on as I always had.
"Truth be told, it wasn't until you were born that I started to pay attention to the situation. By then, though, we had passed a couple of turning points.
"Canada heated up twice as fast. It didn't take too long for the ice to melt in their tundra's releasing the carbon dioxide beneath. Suddenly we gained twice the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, and the world suffered a disastrous knock. The polar caps melted, and the coastlines were reshaped, at the cost of millions of lives. That was when civilisation started to collapse.
"We got to your family and started the exodus to this colony in the Highlands. It was only a rumour at that time. It was something to cling to. At that time, we needed hope. On our journey, we lost Grandma to a group of looters. We turned in to killers; every one of us. As we fought and travelled, I watched the clouds. What with the rise in temperature and the excess water. It was inevitable evaporation and precipitation would also increase.
"The last time I saw a blue sky, you were four. I'd climbed up that beast!" He pointed toward the valley and the mountain beyond, now cloaked in a grey fog. "When I gained the summit, I had to push my head above the cloud line. It was lovely. Not as beautiful as you, though, Poppy." He tilted forwards and gently stroked her face with the back of his hand. "I stayed up there all day and night. When I awoke, the cloud had stolen the blue from us all.
He sighed heavy and deep. The misty droplets on his face could not camouflage his tears. "That's it, love. Sorry to bore you with all that."
"You didn't granddad."
"Do you forgive me for all of this? This mess?"
"No. You all knew what was happening, and still, you did nothing. Or at the least, very little. Now we, my generation, have to live with the consequences of your ignorant arrogance. And, it doesn't look like we're going to make it, though we'll try.
"Now, I've a class to get too. We're trying to learn new ways to grow crops in this boggy earth."
He watched her leave; took a deep breath, and passed away.
Another tree fell.