The Big Green: Beth Strange

The Big Green: Beth Strange

Everything collapsed when the first blade of grass split through the concrete. Elegant vines untangled themselves from the dark mass of their roots and stretched up, arching into the sunlight that landed between the buildings. The trees in the parks and avenues grew and grew, and long creepers wrapped themselves around the skyscrapers. There are oceans between the roofs now, pools of green leaves that ripple in the wind, great emergent trees like rolling waves. The birds dive beneath the canopy and resurface and plunge down again to the distant root beds.

We live on the grey islands, burrowing down to the upper floors as the forest chases its way up the stairs and around the pillars. It drapes itself over offices and bursts through the glass doors of department stores.

At first we lived in the houses, then the forest shattered our windows and coiled around the corners of our rooms. We moved to the town halls and supermarkets and schools, but the low-lying shrubs split apart the floors and filled the water tanks with dead leaves. So now we live on the islands.

The plants will take the islands. They will reach up and wrap their arms around our roofs and drag them down to the forest floor. The trees will overshadow us and block out the light. The flowers will bloom through the walls and the ceilings and grass will grow between the cracks in the rubble. Moss is already spreading itself under our feet, inching up the sides of our buckets of rainwater, sneaking damply into our food and blankets.

If we had listened we say, if we had done something. We could have dammed the thick black rivers of oil, snakey pipes that criss-crossed the planet, we could have trawled up all the plastic bottles and cans from the ocean, we could have have snared the wind and waves and blasted ourselves to other planets, other islands that hang in the absent space. We could have started over.

Sharp little bushes trip us up and jab into the soles of our feet. If we sleep too long new vines pierce our skin and slither between our bones, jutting out from the gaps in our ribs. We abandon each other and let daisies spring out of each other’s skin, and roots burrow into each other’s skulls. The forest tears apart our humanity as much as our homes.

It was nuclear weapons, or toxic waste, or oil spills, or big pharma experiments. Nature sped up, or we slowed down. We could have done something but now we can do nothing. So we lie back and let the grass grow through us, let the green wash over us.

About the author

Beth Strange

I am a postgraduate creative writing student at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. I have written pieces for an online music zine and to give to my grandparents for Christmas. My writing is inspired by music, slasher movies, and the sinister parts of our landscapes.

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