At dawn the earth convulsed and the ocean roared toward the last city, the gnarled maze of scrub pine and ruined skyscrapers we had stalked since we escaped our fraudulent families. Those people we loved and loathed and barely knew at all. The men and women who lied through clinical grins and teeth as white as toilets. Our parents who probed us with long needles, who scribbled with scratching pencils, who rewarded our passivity with lumpy tumors of chocolate that tasted feathery sweet like ozone.
With nowhere left to run, we huddled against the skeleton of a grinning billboard and watched the wall of water rise up before us. We weren’t alone. On our left, a middle-aged woman laughed and gibbered and prayed to an absent god named Dagda. On our right, an old man lay naked on the cracked asphalt and watched the final rocket launch with eyes the color of sea stones.
As the icy water misted our faces, I clung to your warmth and finally told you my name. It was the one piece of myself I had never given to anyone.
Steve Gergley is the author of A QUICK PRIMER ON WALLOWING IN DESPAIR: STORIES (LEFTOVER Books ’22). His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Atticus Review, Cleaver Magazine, Hobart, Pithead Chapel, MaudlinHouse, and others. In addition to writing fiction, he has composed and recorded five albums of original music. He tweets @GergleySteve. His fiction can be found at: Steve Gergley