I woke up to a cold bright light and rolled over underneath my covers. The seasalt air whispered through the crack in my window, beckoning me. I put a pillow over my head and tried to drown out the images of my mother and father smiling at me, waiving goodbye before they climbed on the boat. Tears stung my eyes and I climbed out of bed.
My feet hit the hardwood floor and I threw a grey sweatshirt over my pajamas. I tip toed through the white room, careful not to wake up Jenna who slept a foot away, nightmareless and clutching a parliment issued doll. I resisted the urge to climb in bed and stroke her hair, sob into her shoulder. Instead I walked through my sleeping uncle's house out the front door.
Since the Parliment's rise to power, most people just woke up, went to work, and returned to their quarters before curfew. I don't think it is against the law to go out in the morning as there was no morning curfew, but it was discouraged. I started running barefoot the half mile toward the beach, feeling the wind and essence of ocean permeate my hair and thin pajamas. I sprinted until I could feel the dirt road change to sand under my feet, malleable and soft in the dew. The roar of the waves was just over the hill.
My shins broke through the dry grass and I gasped as I hit the beige open beach. I stopped short on the seaside and brought my hand up to my gaping mouth in horror. My eyes widened and I willed my body to move forward, down the hill, toward the bodies.
Lying on the beach like an oceanic border were dozens of large whale corpses. The hungry hard working plebeian in me smelled the air and knew that the whale meat did not mean an ample dinner tonight. Once on the flat stretch of the beach I knelt, afraid to approach the accident.
The glistening carcasses were five times as big as me each. I had never really seen a live whale up close, and I guess I still hadn't. Their eyes were open, glassy still marbles reflecting the sky. The smell of the beach was replaced by a darker reek of rotting animal flesh, meat, and dried blood. The sand felt cool beneath me as I rocked back and forth, unable to tear my eyes from the thirty two water mammals.
"Issie," a voice says my name over the wind. I turn to see my uncle Alex parting the tall beach grass. He is wearing the sanctioned uniform fishing pants that everyone on the island has and a white shirt. I like my uncle but it's difficult to look at him; he has my mother's grey eyes.
I remain seated and Alex approaches me, a drip of sweat gleaming on his hard worried face.
"What happened to them?" I say. "They're unpunctured, no sign of a fight... There wasn't a storm last night."
"We should get back to the house," Alex says.
I nod, rising to my feet but still staring at the great lumps of smelly meat that were living creatures only hours ago. My uncle gently touches my shoulder and turns me away from the sea, the smell of death clinging to us as we walk away.