The Earth Sighed Seven Times
The earth sighed seven times.
The first morning she heaved – oceans of garbage flooded beaches like tourists, never resting until the seas were emptied of every human relic ever tossed off a ship, every wine cork long forgotten after empty smiles and shallow promises, every distorted piece of plastic that brought momentary ease, fleeting joy, or a bit of convenience- then she sighed.
My dog barked seven times that day. No more, no less.
I hoped it was over, but then came the second morning. A guttural cough rumbled under my feet, and the world erupted. Every dormant volcano came alive with fire, and steam, and spirals of smoke. The seas began to boil and rage and roar, and then I feared it was the end. But it wasn’t. The earth sighed a second time.
My dog barked six times that day. No more, no less.
The third morning, the earth burbled and burped until every human corpse was lifted from its resting place. On land, they rolled out of the ground onto perfectly landscaped yards and gardens and ruined the mood for many a party. This one felt personal. My old dog was buried in the back. His resting place lay undisturbed while bloated bodies bobbed alongside buoys in oceans, and lakes, and rivers, and oh, what a stink! That night she sighed again, and I thought I heard mirth in the sound of it.
Five barks from my dog that day. No more, no less.
The fourth morning the earth groaned and the ground ruptured and fractured – consuming governments, and swallowing civilizations, and splitting countries, and families, and even hairs. Well, I only guessed that last part. Then the earth sighed a fourth time.
My dog barked four times after I fetched her out of the rubble. No more, no less.
The fifth morning the earth sang – through warbling birds and whistling trees, through the bellows of whales and the humming of bees – and it was beautiful! The song was full of hope and new beginnings. But many could not hear her song, though the sound was deafening. Men cleaved to their old ways, licking honey from thorns that split their tongues and numbed their senses, and the poison – oh the poison! Millions died because of it, and it seeped back into the earth. That night the earth was silent. Perhaps she was thinking. The quiet unnerved me as I bolted my doors, listening for earth’s song but only hearing the sounds of booted men patrolling streets, and cocking guns, and shuttered blinds, and whirring blades from aircraft overhead. Finally, the earth sighed a weary sigh.
Three barks that night. Three damning barks. No more, no less.
I awoke the sixth morning with a start as the earth shrieked. I covered my ears, and my cheeks flushed with heat at the pain in her voice. Her cries were desperate. They were horrifying. They were accusing. And they were powerful. Earth’s protective ozone shattered, and my skin blistered and cracked under the heat of the sun. I barricaded myself in the cellar as the top of my roof melted away into nothing. As night fell, the earth sighed a sixth time.
My dog barked twice. No more, no less.
I knew the seventh morning was our last, for the earth laughed. It was bitter and full of sorrow. It summoned the heavens forward, and they came. Meteors, and floating ice, and blazing stars struck the earth so violently they sent chunks of her spinning, spinning everywhere. They ripped her clothes and tore her flesh, but her response was laughter. Crazed, terrifying laughter. And then she sighed. Our beautiful, broken earth sighed. One final, mournful, dreadful sigh.
My dog barked once that morning. Now she lay mute in my lap as I pet her. I know she has no more barks for me. I close my eyes and take one last breath.
No more, no less.