I recently felt inspired to create a series of short stories about problems caused by climate change. It is my intention to start writing fiction about what the world may well be like in ten years time.
The first story is set in my homeland, the farming flatlands of the Cambridgeshire Fens. I decided to share it with my blog readers as many of you have environmental interests and love short fiction too. I hope this might make you think about what problems may be caused by climate change and how they will affect peoples’ lives.
Drowning At Home
Trudging back towards the house, Mark couldn’t help sighing loudly. It wasn’t as if he had an audience so he felt that he could just let it all out. His dog, Angry, didn’t take much notice as he splashed around aimlessly behind him.
“You get as dirty as you like, but you’re not coming back in looking like that. Claire will kill me.”
“She’ll probably kill you both anyway!” came a muffled tease from an upstairs window.
“Can you fill the dog bath and bring it out for us, mate?”
While Mark waited for his son, Charlie, to fetch the manky tin can they called a dog bath, he found himself looking vaguely out into the distance. His mind took him back to just a few years ago when there was a lovely playing field behind their garden. He remembered walking the dog with Charlie, playing with kites and even setting up a tent one summer. That field resembled nothing but happy memories. It was weird to think that none of those things would ever happen again. Not there, at least.
He should have known all along that buying a house on the edge of town was a risky business. But it had seemed ideal at the time. Reasonably affordable with a big garden and miles of beautiful fields stretching behind it. How could everything have changed so dramatically in just a few short years?
Claire was besotted with the woodland trail that was just around the corner. He remembered her excitement when they took their first stroll through the horse chestnut trees, with their sprinklings of conkers lying amongst piles of colourful fallen leaves. She was fascinated by Autumn leaves and used to collect them and make a little display in their dining room each year. In fact, she had a different table setting for every season. They both had shared a love for nature and especially adored the charming way that winter was able to blanket a landscape so impressively.
Right now it was still winter and it should have been a time of whiteness and frost. Their garden should have been covered in white dust and the bird feeder should have been keeping a red robin satisfied during the darker days of January.
Claire should have been laughing at Charlie as he raced his dad down the only hill they had nearby on his makeshift sled. They ought to have been eating roasted chestnuts and enjoying hot chocolate, after long winter walks and playful afternoons crunching through the snow-crusted lanes.
That wasn’t how it ended up.
The dream they both had of an idyllic home on the edge of a small Fenland town hadn’t played out the way they had hoped it might.
* * *
Needless to say, the constant rain had become almost unbearable. Every day they looked out of the windows of their bedrooms and wished for a dry day. Hoped for a spot of sunshine to emerge from the souring grey sky. Prayed for something other than the mundane repetitive dullness that they had seen for the past few months.
“Even when the land was covered in snow, we used to at least get some winter sunshine,” Claire had commented as Mark sat scratching his head over the latest Wordle problem.
“It won’t last forever,” he mumbled unconvincingly before taking another sip of his now only lukewarm coffee.
“It’d better not. A few more centimetres of water and we’ll be walking out into the sea.”
At that moment, Angry came rushing into the living room and bounced onto Mark’s lap, making him spill a bit of his coffee onto his dark blue jeans.
“Oi! Scram! You nearly soaked my iPad!” he yelled, shoving the dog back onto the floor where he sat panting.
Claire picked up the dog and made gooey eyes at him. “We’re gonna have to get used to everything being drenched if this weather carries on.”
She gave Mark a disappointed glare before making her way back into the hallway where Charlie was pumping up his bike tyre. He had punctured it while cycling to school, on one of the many pot holes that was currently disguised by about 10cm of water and mud.
Charlie looked fed up as he struggled to fix the cap back onto the tyre. With her usual patience, Claire sat down next to him and held it still while he twisted it carefully into place.
“Thanks, mum. I had butter fingers.”
In the background, Charlie could hear the TV being switched on and the News blaring out about more flood warnings. He picked up the dog, who was now feeling as if he was being passed from pillar to post, and swung into the lounge, listening intently to an old man who was talking about his struggling farm.
“Nobody saw this coming,” he said in what Charlie recognised as a very local Fenland accent.
“Yes they bloody did!” he said, grimacing at the screen as if the farmer were stood right there in their living room.
“Our family has owned this farm for fifty years or more. There ain’t no way we can use most of the land again.”
“You can’t blame him for what happened but WE all knew this would happen. For sure.” Charlie waved a hand at his dad as if telling him to take notice.
“These freak storms have really messed up the farming industry. It will take a long while for the land to get back to how it used to be. A long while for it to dry out.” The farmer looked a combination of confused and honoured to be speaking on the News. A sort of wry smile sneaked across his face as he said, “Never mind. These things ‘appen, I s’pose.”
Charlie was getting himself into a flap.
“Yeah they do ‘appen. They were always going to ‘appen. But there is nothing freak about them. It’s not like they are one offs. This is the third year that we have had nothing but rain through winter and spring. Wake up and smell the coffee old man!”
“Speaking of coffee, does anyone want a fresh cup?” asked Mark kindly, hoping to distract his son for a moment.
“Not now, dad.”
“So, do you learn about all this at school, Charlie?” asked his mum as she popped her head round the door midway through tying a scarf around her neck.
“Mum, you know we do. I bet even you oldies learned about global warming.”
“Well it was mentioned but they made it seem like it was years away from affecting anyone,” mum smiled as she then began to squeeze her left foot into a welly boot, holding onto the doorframe for support.
“Ignorance is bliss,” said Charlie before waving her to stay quiet while he turned up the TV.
“Well I’ll just ignorantly nip to the shop and buy us all some chips for dinner,” said Claire as she unlocked the front door and opened her umbrella in one swift motion.
The News went on to discuss the continued flooding and dad came in just as the presenter mentioned Ramsey.
“What about Ramsey?” he asked, placing his mug onto a coffee table.
“Let’s see what our East Anglia reporter has to say on the matter,” the Newsreader said, bleakly.
“Hi Rob, I am standing here almost knee-high in water just on the edge of Ramsey. As you can see, this used to be a footpath which led through the local woodlands, but now it is more like a swamp.”
Suddenly, Charlie legged it upstairs to see if he could see her out of his bedroom window.
“There is a severe risk now of damaging floods extending into this small Fenland town. Sandbags are being piled up to try and protect connecting roads but a lot more needs to be done before Ramsey becomes waterlogged.”
Mark shook his head in disbelief. Had it really got this bad?
Charlie could be heard swinging his window open and shouting, “I can see a TV van parked by where the swings are!”
Mark couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Apparently a further storm was coming and the local river had already been allowed to flood right across the flood plain. There was nowhere left for the flood waters to go.
“Tonight, the latest storm will cause considerable local floods which may well not retreat until summer,” the drenched reporter continued, looking well and truly hacked off.
“Until summer? No way!”
“What did she just say?” asked Charlie as he leapt back down the stairs, jumping two steps at a time. “Did she say anything about how long it would last?”
“Until summer.” His dad’s face was a picture. It looked like he had just seen a ghost.
Charlie wasn’t as surprised as Mark, but he could see that the situation had become dangerous. He changed the channel on the telly and turned it down to a low volume.
“It’ll be alright, dad,” he said calmly, plonking himself on the arm of the sofa chair, next to Mark. “But we do have to start taking climate change seriously. It’s the only was we can stop things becoming worse.”
His dad looked at him remorsefully.
“It’s all our fault isn’t it. My generation. We made this stupid mess. We should have thought more about the future.”
“I don’t think you can take the blame. And it started long before you were even born. It began with the industrial revolution, dad.”
“You’ve got your head screwed on about all this. Making us walk and bike all the time. I know what you’re doing. It all makes sense.”
“All these green things I keep telling you about. They aren’t just homework projects. They are good for the environment. That’s why I wanted a vegetable patch.”
Mark realised in that split second that he loved his son more than anything. He remembered the arguments they had had about solar panels being fitted on their roof.
“You know what, we will get some solar panels installed after all,” he said warmly.
“That’d be really cool,” smiled Charlie. “But it won’t solve all our problems. We have to find a way to stop the flood drowning our house.”
“Yes we will. Let’s face it, we won’t be able to sell the house now. Not without losing a lot of money. Let’s get online and find out how we can keep water out for now.”
“But dad…” Charlie was now getting that intense look on his face that he only got when he was really concerned about something or someone. “We have to do way more than that. We have to rally the government. We have to be proactive so they properly start doing something about it all.”
Mark pulled Charlie onto the sofa and hugged him tightly.
“Oh we will, mate. That you can be sure of. We will fight for change.”
“I bloody love you, dad.”
“Me too. And that is why we’ll do this together. Me and you against the world.”
“Me and you and Mum against the world.”
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my brand new short story about issues caused by climate change. Please drop your thoughts in the comments and consider following my blog for future similar content. For another of my environmental articles, check out Why Recent Snow Isn’t Enough.