Thomas and the Rising Sea

by Paul-Newell Reaves

“It was windy, so that the leaves now and then brushed open a star.”

Thomas dropped his Virginia Woolf book by the side of his rocking chair, and went inside and upstairs— to the kitchen on the top floor. The kettle was boiling, so he pulled the tea bags from their cupboard.

He looked out the window toward the encroaching sea. The tea was still too hot.

As a boy, he remembered, he had had to walk a narrow path to the cliffs, and then down a stair to reach the sea.

But the sea was rising, the cliffs were underwater, as was the narrow path. Ah, now the tea was ready.

He sipped at his tea and walked back to the porch, now overlooking the sea.

He picked up his book and waded into the water. Soon, he thought, just a few more feet. He went back to his rocking chair, sat down and read his book, so as not to think about death.

The waves lapped the foundations of the house, rising by the micro-millimeter.

The roads to town were flooded. He read in his goulashes, rocking his chair through the surf.

Now barnacles clung to the doorway.

The water snuck up the staircase, stair by stair.

Still he read and drank his tea. He donned his suit of neoprene and waded to his chair, every morning just the same.

The water was past his shoulders now. He held his elbows aloft to keep his book from soaking.

Now every day he read through a snorkel. He had wanted it this way, ever since he was a boy: to drown with his house, to go down with the island, to be swept away in the sea.  A death well worth waiting for.

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