We spent the day at the beach; brought baskets of food, blankets and towels and all the instruments we could carry.
Aside from the livid colours in the sky and the fervent intensity of the celebrations you would never know the end was drawing near. It could be any other day; just an arbitrary holiday marked with seaside celebrations.
We have determined to meet it, not only on our feet, but dancing;
smiling and laughing.
Squeezing every last drop of joy there is to be had out of what remains of this life.
We want it all, and we haven't got long.
There are no sign bearers here. No nay-sayers, alarmists, or sermonists preaching damnation. They are perched outside the council halls, at parliament, and on the remaining broadcasting TV stations. They have kept to the warrens of the city; and they are welcome to it.
Before the sun goes down, Aubin claims a seat on one of the bluffs overlooking the ocean. He sits and paints it as it pummels the rock cliffs at the north end of the beach. He paints the lurid cloudscapes and the sea birds diving off the cliffs. He paints the surf as it breaks across the beach and the sun slipping towards the horizon. He does not paint the growing crowd. His beach is empty. He gets the waves just right. Likely, his work will be destroyed long before the oil paints have a chance to fully dry . It doesn't matter because this piece isn't about production or documentation. Its about doing what you love.
As the light begins to fade bonfires spark into life along the sands. The crowd continues to grow as more and more people arrive.
Drums pound. There is every manner of instrument being played. Voices join in chorus and laughter percolates through the buzz of the crowd. Fire spinners work their magic. There are more than a few costumed and painted faces here, making last appearances, determined to make the last show a good one. A set of whirling dervishes set to work entrancing themselves. Great huge skeletons and reapers move through the throng; hovering overhead on tall staffs. They reach out menacingly or lilt and dance according to the whims of their puppeteers. Someone brought a projector is is blasting old movie fragments onto the rock face.
Occasionally a shark explodes from the crashing surf and hurls itself towards the beach. Most of them are small, and are carried back out to sea by the retreating waves. A few larger ones have been marooned and lie; thrashing, gasping or still, on the sands. Some opportunistic party goers have already begun carving steaks for roasting over the fires. No one knows for certain why the big fish seem to be driven towards land. We speculate about offshore weather patterns and pressure systems. We talk about horses getting skittish and dogs going crazy before tornadoes and wonder how they know the things they do. We wonder when the big wave will come.
Tucked away in the quieter corners of the beach there are tall tales being told. We regale each other with our greatest moments; and the most delightfully embarrassing moments of our friends'. A posse of old ladies share a last pot of tea (or two) and cackle over their bridge hands. Lovers kiss in the shadows.
This is the very best of what our species has to offer; secrets and songs and stories. We are at our finest; drumming and dancing the night away. We will pour it all out on the sands one last time.
We refuse sadness.
We are, all of us, temporary.