The King Tide is coming. The ocean laps at the chapel’s steps, has crept up the gravestones to my ancestors’ names. I’ve written them down, have been reading them aloud, singing my song of home.
I sing another, the first I ever learned, about the people of these islands, sailing from mythic origin to this place, and of the promise made. This shall be our home, they said, we shall remain. And I am here, at this final sanctuary, where house geckos lick their eyes, and sparrows tip their heads, and castaway ants tickle up my legs. Inside, shy creatures coo and click and rasp and whistle; their song of home echoes in the nave. And I am here to hear it.
They, like me, left their hiding places for the highest point, no longer three metres above sea level. Salt has filled the atoll’s belly and the sun is sinking into the past. I watch, while I might, yellow petals borne towards the chapel from the tops of kio trees, drifting onto the uppermost step. A squirrelfish darts across the path I walked. I am here to see it.
Already, just the tops of grave-markers rise from the ocean. They look like stepping stones, away to somewhere I don’t belong. The people of these islands have one word for hello, goodbye and love. It means you are the rainbow. A promise was made. I will remain, though my footprints may be washed from the chapel floor. I will sing my ancestors’ names. I will join my own with theirs.
About the author:
Jenny Gaitskell lives and writes in Lewes, Sussex. She blogs about the things which inspire and improve her stories. https://www.jennygaitskell.com/ You can say hello on twitter: @JennyGaitskell.