The islands of The Bahamas have gone through so much over the past few decades and he witnessed all of it. He saw Buddy Hield’s impassioned basketball hall-of-fame speech when he lamented the submersion of his local Eight Mile Rock while begging developed nations to take action on climate change. He was there when parliament passed a law in an emergency session granting women married to foreigners the right to pass on citizenship to their children after Shaunae Miller-Uibo’s son won 4 Olympic gold medals for Estonia because he couldn’t get Bahamian citizenship, despite the fact that he lived and trained in The Bahamas. He saw Christopher Davis, son of former PLP leader Phillip Brave Davis become Prime Minister and secured reparations from Great Britain to recoup the resources lost from slavery and colonialism, creating a period of unprecedented economic boom.
He saw the backlash when Mr Davis directed The Bahamas to be one of the final countries in the world to legalize cannabis and got voted out for his efforts thanks to the Herculian efforts and mass turnout of the reactionary Christian types. He saw the economy boom thanks to said legalization despite the backlash. He saw Davis’s successors go back to drilling for oil and building hotels because that’s all they knew. Why diversify the economy when this is what we did for over a century? And finally, he saw the storms blow it all away.
The storms hit the islands with increasing frequency and strength. They caused oil leaks which destroyed marine life. The storms also destroyed hotels, forcing their closure, destroying the islands’ myopic economy. He was there for all of them. He saw Hurricane Xavier completely destroy South Eleuthera and disintegrate the Glass-Window Bridge with 275 miles-per-hour gusts, eviscerating Harbour Island in the process. He saw Hurricane Samira, render Cat Island and Long Island completely uninhabitable.
The Christian Council said that God was punishing The Bahamas and that we needed to repent. The Bahamas was one of three countries that still outlawed same-sex marriage, the other two being Saudi Arabia and Iran, and there was an increase in calls for The Bahamas to join the modern world. He prayed for the souls of the ‘sissies’. He never asked for his hotel job back, or for the oil slick that engulfed the seas around his island to go away. He just wanted the sissies to stop sissying.
The coup-de-grace was Hurricane Lauren, a category 5 storm that destroyed New Providence. The storm crippled the country’s government and infrastructure. He saw Shirley Street became beachfront property, waves rushed into Princess Margaret Hospital, St Matthew’s church was no more, the Columbus statue at Government House was now a shoreline. Carmichael, South Beach and Pinewood were completely underwater. Lake Killarney swelled up and swallowed the Airport. The power went out and never came back on, the water was unusable. So many people died. They drowned in the storm surge or were blown away, never to be seen again, or their houses collapsed on them. They got sick drinking contaminated water or starved to death, awaiting rescue that never came.
Cuba sent hundreds of doctors, England sent landing craft, The United States showed up with an expeditionary force in an armada of craft, an aircraft carrier, dozens of helicopters, Sea Kings, Chinooks, Ospreys, flying in and out all day. People packed up what little belongings they had left for good. They joined family members in the US and Canada, they went to England, they went to Cuba and South America and Jamaica. Sweden and Norway, countries with dwindling populations, offered to take Bahamians hoping to increase their birth rates and bolster their diversity. A few thousand islanders braved the extreme weather and stark cultural differences and took the Scandinavian countries up on the offer. People left on boats, on seaplanes and in helicopters to Florida. His wife and youngest child died in a storm, his surviving kids moved to England and took their kids. He stayed. What’s a Bahamian without The Bahamas?
Storms kept coming, people kept leaving. He stayed. His city was whittled down to a village, then a hamlet, before long he was an old man, living in a small house by himself. When he needed to eat he fished and he ate the vegetables near his house. The fishermen, like everyone else who survived the storm and the subsequent unrest and pestilence, left. The conch, lobster and snapper population were back in abundance, especially after the oil slicks cleared up. The Florida coast retreated to near Lakeland and Ocala, so there were no American fishermen anywhere near and the Dominican fishing industry was also destroyed by the storms.
The storms never stopped. He managed to survive all, but he knew sooner or later that his day would come and it did.
A particularly nasty one brought the floodwaters to his door. A half-hour later he had no door… or house. After the storms and the societal changes and the exodus of people, he was just a man in the middle of a cataclysmic storm. He had nothing left. His entire life played back before his very eyes, on a neverending, instantaneous loop.
He wandered off into the storm to face the end on his feet, his mind racing. He started to feel something he hasn’t felt in a long time, lament. The water began to slink back into the ocean from where it came until it was all gone. A storm surge was about to roll in. He stood pat, looking the tsunami in the eye, thinking about everything that brought him to this moment.
He thought about what was once his country as the wave closes in on him. The wave is one or two storeys tall. You would think he would ponder how it was rendered desolate by climate change and ill-prepared, feckless leadership, or the fact that the people who he once called his countrymen are scattered all around the globe, he pondered on the steep fall. How could it go so wrong?
The wave moved closer to him, now 5 storeys tall, it’s about to carry him off into the great beyond. In the final seconds of his life, he has an epiphany. He remembers where it all went wrong. As the wall of water is about to carry him off for good, he utters his final words: