A couple months ago, an organization in Key West was offering big prizes for winning a flash fic contest. That contest ended last week, and I didn’t hear anything, so I guess I’m free to post my entry. The amazing thing is, just this morning, I saw a photo on an article about climate change, and it exactly matches the scenario I described in the flash fic. Weird, huh?
We gazed at the endless ocean, and I appreciated yet again the wide aqua stripes alternating with the dark blue. Nowhere else was the water so beautiful.
“How far was it from Cuba to the Keys, Gramps?” sixteen-year-old Nathan asked.
“Ninety miles.” I drew in fishing line and recast. We were sitting in the rear of my small boat, hoping to catch something for dinner. “But no one goes there much these days.”
“Cubans used to come to the US, though. Right?”
“Yup. Boatloads of ’em, looking for a better life.” They didn’t do that now. The remaining Cubans were either dead or stubbornly clinging to what was left of their country.
“Tell me about Key West.” He loved to hear stories about the old days.
“Fun,” I said without hesitation. “Tourists up the yin-yang. There was a pirate festival every year. So many people attended, I’m surprised our combined weight didn’t sink the place.” I gave him a nudge and a wink. “Your grandmother and I went a few times.”
He grinned. “To pretend to be pirates and walk around saying, ‘Avast, me hearties?’”
“Nah. To partake of the rum and get drunk.”
We laughed together. Seagulls flew overhead, eyeing us and hoping for food. No wind today; the water was still as glass. This was what sailors referred to as the doldrums; I imagined being out here without a motor for days, maybe weeks, and shuddered.
“How far are we from Cuba?” He twitched his line, impatient for something to take the bait.
We were sitting under a piece of cloth to protect us from the sun, but it was still hot. Sweat rolled down my spine and into my underwear. “Three hundred miles, give or take. Never thought I’d live to see Sebring become the southernmost city in Florida. Climate change, Nathan. It screwed up everything, and Florida was hit hard.”
“Why didn’t you move north, then?”
Scowling, I bowed my head and looked at the water from under the bill of my cap. “Been here all my life. Don’t want to go anywhere else.”
But I’d have to, for the grandson’s sake. The evacuation notice had arrived yesterday, giving us one month to pack up and go. I’d fuss about it but eventually give in and relocate, as I had when they’d forced me to leave Marathon. The FEMA trailers sucked, but at least they were a roof over our heads.
In a transparent effort to distract me, he said, “Tell me how you and Grandma used to dress up as pirates and swagger down Whitehead Street to Mallory Square to watch the sunset.”
“Argh, matey,” I said, making an effort. “No one looked finer in a corset and fishnets than your grandmother.” My line dipped sharply, and I half-stood. “Woohoo! Got a good bite, Nathan. Fetch the net and stand ready.”
Word count: 476
Genre: Our Inevitable Future
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