Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer

When the last of the ships left, they blasted craters a mile deep in the earth, so large it would take the better part of a day to walk their circumference.

The ground at the bottom of these holes had been heated to molten, and had cracked and fissured as it cooled. The sides were carved almost perfectly vertical, exposing the bands in the earth that marked time.

The underground waterways found their way to these low spots, and they, helped by the rains that followed the evacuation, filled them, the water teeming with new life.

The vegetation that had been caught in the downwash burned for months, leaving the earth around these new geometrically unlikely lakes blackened and ashen.

From space the Earth must have looked like the charred bowling ball of some many-fingered god, discarded in its decaying orbit around a dying star.

In time, the plant life that survived produced seeds, and the birds and bees carried them, as did the breeze. The scorched earth sprouted flowers and shrubs on the high ground, and bullrushes and reeds in the valleys, and grasses and other persistent life of every colour and shade imaginable sprung up throughout. The bugs crawled up from the ground and reclaimed the spaces they had once been so violently expunged from.

Rivers found their ways into the massive pools, bringing sediment to cloud the waters, and sustain life, and fish to feed on the insects that had started to breed there.

Foxes chased rabbits, and were themselves chased by coyotes. Wild cats chased rats through the empty streets and buildings left abandoned.

Slowly, the Earth filled in the spaces man left behind with what remained, gradually erasing the memories of the people who had paved over and walled in everything for so many hundreds of years.

On the hilltop, in the shade of the great observatory, I watch the sun dip below the horizon, bathing everything in sight with the purple and orange haze that I will never get tired of seeing.

In the distance, wild birds are calling their last for the day, and the forest animals are waking and talking to each other, and no-one, and to the coming night.

In the years since you’ve been gone, the planet has worked tirelessly to erase all memory of you.

And yet still the memory of you persists.