Author : Russell Bert Waters
The moon stares down as I stand on the beach next to what once was the ocean.
Powerless to control the tide, or anything at all, the moon seems sad.
This is conjecture on my part.
The moon hasn’t said anything lately, so for all I know it is full of glee and merriment.
Earlier, after the dehydration and lack of sleep began really playing their tricks, the moon had said plenty.
It wanted to know if it would ever regain its purpose.
I told it, in a cracked and hoarse voice, I didn’t know.
No one knew.
It seemed satisfied by the answer, as though it had known all along what the answer would be.
My nickname in the Army had been “Camel” because I was able to last the longest without worrying about taking a drink from my canteen.
I could hike, march, or run, for miles without worrying about hydration.
Some people are just wired that way, I guess.
But I am worried now, I assure you.
The moon turns its back on me and lets out an audible sigh.
It hasn’t been many days since the water inexplicably began disappearing.
Geologists were concerned it had somehow begun draining into the Earth, but drilling projects and advanced scanning equipment kept turning up nothing.
Bottled water sat on shelves, empty.
Their containers took on a “sunk in” look, as though the water had been sucked out of them.
Lakes, ponds, rivers, oceans, seas, wells, aquifers, all had begun to dry.
The humidity in the air was reduced to less than zero.
People began dropping like flies.
They’d have headaches, delusions, seizures, and one by one they would collapse.
As far as I know I’m the last person alive on Earth, or maybe there are a few more like me out there.
I guarantee none of us are in good shape.
I keep seeing things dancing, just out of sight.
My head hurts.
My mouth and throat are painfully dry and cracked.
My throat feels like a collapsing straw.
The moon looks down on me again, asks me if things will ever be the same.
Asks me if it’s going to be all alone soon.
Asks me if children will ever again watch it follow them in the night sky.
The moon is a bit choked up, as it asks its final question of me.
It wants to know if there will ever be another tide.
“I don’t know” I croak, “I don’t know.”
My first celestial friend seems smaller for the moment, as it continues its dance in the sky.
Before me lies miles of sand, littered with dead starfish, lost tourist sunglasses, the occasional instant camera. All the treasures one could ever want glimmer before me in the vast expanse that was the Pacific.
I would trade it all for one sip of fresh, cold, water.
I walk forward, daring to venture where riptides once ruled.
My final hike is to be one that no one has ventured before; at least not without proper SCUBA or snorkel gear.
“May I have this dance?” I manage to painfully ask.
The moon is game.
It dances in the sky, as I weakly dance on the sandy terrain, kicking the occasional shell, stumbling over driftwood.
I will drop soon, I know that.
But, for now, I will entertain my lonely friend.
For now, we will dance.