The air was hazy with moisture. If he'd still been around, Dad would've said something like "the humidity is high today, son". But he wasn't. He was long gone, along with most of the rest of them, fled north to chase rumors of cooler climes.

I'd only ever seen ghost towns on television; settings in some drama or a Western. They were almost always in old fictions, black and white stuff in the square format that people were once okay with. I used to get mad at that, whenever forced to watch some ancient serials for whatever reasons, wondering how people got entertained without being distracted by the box they had to view it through. Then one day old Donny explained that the newer formats were just the old ones with the tops and bottoms cropped off. It got easier to watch older stuff after that.

But ghost towns, yeah. Fictional backdrops that had only ever truly lived in shades of grey in my memories of old television. Only, that is, until my hometown became one.

They'd given up calling it a drought. It was now a "national emergency", one that the government had stopped responding to six months ago. It was a summer that refused to turn into fall. August had melted into September and the temperatures had risen. Leaves fell off the trees not from the natural turn to cold, but because the heat killed them dead; dropped them brown and crunchy into the streets. It was February, and by all rights there should've been chill winds whipping ice crystals up and down the roads, not warm gusts laden with dry leaves.

The most annoying thing about the whole situation was the climatologists and their supporters going around shoving their global warming confirmation in everyone's faces. Yeah, we got it. Now what did we do about it?

But it seemed too late, like that electric moment when you know you've gone that one step too far, the one that's carried you past the point of no return and all that's left is the ashen taste of regret and the hopeless misery of going forward. The idea of an endless summer was once a romantic notion, but now that it was a reality there was nothing for it but to curse the heat and scavenge for ever-dwindling water.

It was hell.

2014.07.17 – 2023.03.18

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