Last Days

by Sara C. Thomason

The land beneath Gabe's feet is itching to move. His home, this block, city, state, country—this continent is picking itself up like a crab, back heavy with the weight of the world and crawling. He's heard the news and knows the Earth is one big tectonic puzzle. Plates are sliding around a steaming vat of slippery iron deep inside the Earth. Our orbit's changed and that's a problem. What once was away is now come hither, and land is being drawn together like magnets, like hot cakes, like two people in the exact same sweater saying, "Hey!" This is Pangaea, all over again.

Gabe falls to his knees and crawls across the yard, palming the grass, groping for tremors. He is skidding along with the ocean floor, but Gabe thinks he can feel the weightless lift of floating. He imagines the Americas taking slow slick strokes across dark water like a stealthy Indian. He imagines the frantic kicking of a cowboy, water splashing—here we come! But that's not how evolving goes, and the news says so. Africa will peel from the globe like the pithy skin of an orange and float atop the Atlantic. South America will crack. Brazil will feel its tethers loosened, and its people will all fall down. Venezuela is already recruiting millions of rowers to tug and pull its way into the crook of Cameroon's arm, but forcing things is not the way to do this. "Relax," the news says. "Let things happen. Busy yourself with preparations, because nobody knows how this will unfold."

Gabe thinks the dock that leads from his yard out into the marsh will make a good bridge and he's hoping Florida hits Senegal. He collects mollusks and fan clams and leaves them in the sun until their muscled feet fall out. He throws fistfuls in buckets, and their weight in his hands feels like money. He remembers his seventh grade social studies textbook—drawings of native woman bartering cowries for pots and pans. Men poking the earth with knives—agrarian. There are lots of shovels and rakes in the garage for him to get, but he walks to the end of his dock with a radio instead and checks the weather. The news warns that mass-land-movement means rogue waves—and for China, a possible tsunami. When Gabe hears that his skin begins to crawl.

In his college days Gabe abandoned a sinking fishing boat and was sucked out to sea where he floated with three friends for two days—heads poked above life vests, chests bobbing like Coke cans while sharks bumped against their legs. He knows about the desperation that leads to gulping salty water when fins begin to circle, and the delirium that sets in after, like a dinner bell. Gabe and his friends slapped the water and shouted, "No!" but only two of them survived. Water is bad. Land is good. And that's something Gabe will not forget.

But what Gabe doesn't know, won't know, can't possibly know, is that when the continents collide it will be with such force, that all the water will disappear. The bottom of the oceans will echo with the dying slaps of floundering fish, and the land will rise above the tidal floor—a flat and empty plateau. Nothing will be left of landscape except a tangle of long silvery threads. The globe will sway in the wind with the thin hair of an old man. People will crawl away from the crash unharmed, and Gabe will walk with everyone from everywhere through tall fields of thread—arms open, hands grazing the tops of whispy growth. Instinctively they will fall to their knees and weave the ground into a thick blanket, pulling it up to their chins at night. They will weave impulsively. They will weave with no regard. They will weave until the continents are seamless, and they are caught underneath the heavy pull of the world's weight. They will say it's just like drowning.

BIO: Sara C. Thomason holds an MFA in fiction from Sarah Lawrence College. She was the winner of the 2014 RopeWalk Press Postcard Contest, and she was awarded second prize in the 2012 Zoetrope: All-Story Short Fiction Contest. Her work has previously appeared in Tin House online. Currently, she lives on Isle of Palms, SC where she is hard at work on a novel.