Callum slumped in a dark chair in the study. He didn’t want to be in this weird town, without friends. Again, his mother had pulled a crazy.
Being twelve sucked. You could be dragged all over Hell by your Parent. His mother didn’t seem ‘single’- she was a force. She’d managed to get the two of them onto a cargo ship.
If only he could have saved at least one of his friends.
Now he looked at this odd little woman he’d been told was his grandmother. Grammie was very short, had crazy white hair and wore thick glasses. He noticed her eyes weren’t blue, like Mum’s, but an odd pale brown. Her voice was surprising – it didn’t sound old.
‘Things aren’t what they used to be,’ she said briskly. ‘People have said that forever, but now it’s deadly accurate. So we have to adapt.’
Callum looked out the window. He hadn’t seen trees since he was three. The wind was moving the – were the green parts called leaves? They made a whispering sound. He wished he could tell his friend Dylan, but Dylan-
‘Why do you have trees here?’ he asked.
‘We were a little behind,’ said Grammie. ‘Small population of humans, more trees. People stopped pruning and let them go sky high for shade. We have animals – just a few. More on land than in the water, of course. Sea here is thrashed like most places.’
‘How do the people and animals get drinking water?’ Callum asked, wondering. No one at home had pets. No one he knew had seen a wild creature.
‘We catch the rain, and filter it,’ said Grammie. ‘There’s still rain in winter.’
‘The roads sparkle, ’ observed Callum.
‘Yep- we stopped piling up jam jars and went back to grinding them,’ said Grammie, ‘but we didn’t make asphalt. Too hot. So we made the roads pale.’
Luckily, the gleaming silvery roads worked well with electric vehicles. They kept the heat down, too, and had a pacifying effect on people. Reminded the adults of streams.
‘Who’s Dylan?’ asked Grammie. ‘ A boy you know? Heard you say that name in your sleep. Stuff in the groundwater here, not many boys around.’
‘He was my friend,’ Callum murmured. ‘Hey – why can’t people go on jets anymore?’
Grammie had her back to him now, but he thought her shoulders were shaking.
‘Well, they had to stop almost everything, to halt the Sixth Extinction.’
‘Mum told me about the Extinction,’ said Callum. ‘ But what’s gone?’
‘Gone and still going,’ said Grammie. Her voice was rough.
He’d grown up in a huge city. He’d never seen fish, bears, deer or eagles. He hadn’t heard a frog or cricket, even a songbird. He’d never seen a river or walked in a forest.
Here, there were trees. Grammie said there were a few insects; someone had seen a small bird.
‘Maybe we’ve stopped it,’ said Grammie. Her face softened.
‘And someday, Callum, you just might see a deer.’
Publisher’s Note: This was the Peoples’ Choice Winner in the Gibsons Public Library Postcard Story Contest.