Conversation Between the Bereaved
rating: +18+x

Friday, December 6th, 2097:

Two men sit by the seashore, looking out over the yellow-tinted waves.
They watch as the sun sets on a diseased ocean, once teeming with life, now infested by decay and rot.
The dilapidated tides still wash over the now-dirty beaches, but no one plays by the sea-side.
Fishing boats do not roam the open waters. Yachts do not sail haughtily over the seas.

But the two men still watch.

They are old, with grizzled stubble lining the fringes of their faces.
They saw the degradation of the oceans first-hand, they watched as the waters turned sickly.
They watch, sitting still in their chairs. One, smoking a cigarette, the other just resting with his cane leaning against the arm of the chair.
They are friends, brothers in the sea, now watching as their estranged mother dies before them.

"Shame," said the one with the cane.

"No kidding," responded the other, bitterly.

"No no, I mean shame. Shame is what killed her off, really."

"I think it was time and people, not shame. Did shame dump thousands of pounds of waste into her?"

"No, but shame is why we refused to help."

"Ha. We refused to help her because it wasn't convenient." A puff of smoke escaped his lungs.

Crabs scuttled across the ocean floor, pinching the water aimlessly. Schools of fish swam in chaotic clouds, lethargically gulping down microscopic food. Bigger predators, waiting for the perfect moment, hunted prey from the shadows, perhaps from behind a rock or ruin; and indeed, there were ruins: shipwrecks, sunken stones, statues, machines, and other strange oddities dotted the sandy ground. Sometimes these structures made homes, sometimes they made graves.
So many now go uncaring of the ocean's life. It is our constant companion, our oldest advisor save the very rocks, and now stark few understand its complexities. The ocean has been our mother — indeed, the cradle where life itself was born — for some time, guiding sailors to their far-flung destinations for centuries. It has inspired artists and poets, sonnets and paintings, but it goes now neglected.
Now, it is dying. Now, crabs lay on their backs, dead, or waiting for death. Fish — if they can at all — swim erratically and alone in their hunger. Bigger predators sulk in shadows, praying that a few creatures come their way. The same ruins dot the floor, now foreboding and full of half-collapsed malice. With humanity's constant advancement came a heavy price.
But perhaps there are some who still care, some who still dream. Then maybe, then maybe…

"I guess you're right. I've been sailing for sixty odd years, and never have I seen such a mess of things. For all my life, the sea has been my — our — intemperate friend. It's painful to see her go into such squalor. You look out at the ocean and wonder… how long she has left, huh. Our occupation is a dying one, I suppose, but it isn't fear of unemployment that gets me. I just hope — no, pray — what we've done is reversible. I don't really blame anyone. We tried, I guess. We were just… short-sighted." The man with the cane sighed quietly to himself.

"I think the problem is our pride, y'know? We thought we could save everything, do everything. We tried to play the superhero, but didn't have the capacity to succeed. We could have been the cure, but we turned into the infection."

"I wouldn't call humanity an infection on the world, just another animal. Had fish been the dominant species, they would have killed the land to further their goals. It's natural, in a way… Just the hourglass of time running out of sand. Sometimes I wonder what the world would have been like without anything to dominate it. Maybe then the sea would be whole again."

It was not sudden, few things are. But gradually, we killed the waters. Death by a thousand papercuts, or so the saying goes. People proposed ideas then, but none of them would suffice. All species strive for their own benefit, it is nature to be selfish. Had the ocean a mind to do so, it would have killed us to save itself. Maybe it tried. Maybe we were just too stubborn and vain to let something more beautiful than us survive.
By now, things are irreversible. Black ooze seeps into the ocean's depths, killing off the building blocks of life, cutting down the tree by its roots. If only, if only…

"I blame the older generations." Another plume of smoke rose into the air, vented from his mouth.

"Everyone blames the older generations. We're the older generations."

"What did our parents do? Squabble about policy?"

A pause.

"Don't blame them."

"It's shameful what they did — failed to do, really. It's their fault." The words were spiteful.


And silence elapsed as the men watched the sea, and the sea watched the men.
The crippled man and the smoker went their separate ways.
They would return to the same space tomorrow, to again talk of the sea.
And the sea, though sick, would sound its reply in the crashing of the waves.

And the oceans rumbled, and the seas cried out, "Your fault, your fault…"
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