Embers of all

J.H. Hewitt

Your eyes were steady. I tipped my head and raised a brow. Straight at me, you said it again. A blink. And then, on my face, a small smile broke out, its flames crackling in the space between us. Licking at the chairs on which we sat, setting them ablaze, making embers of all.

The smile – hungry now – glanced at you. Your eyes unflinching. I watched it open the front door, and set out for the town, spreading as it went, razing houses, St Trinity, the Oak. Old style lamps flared then burst. It seared across the land, while you held your gaze. Up went hedgerows, trees, strangle-squawked crows. Billows of grey filled the sky. But the smile scorched on, boiling the oceans, blackening shoals and choking gulls. Soon, the plains were dust, the charred mountains bare, cities pluming final puffs. A whole sphere in cinders.

The smoke clung around us. I could hardly see you now – or breathe. Then, at last, you said, clear, like you’d never needed air anyway: “No, no, no, not like that.” And then: “What have you done?”

The smile fell away. Wordlessly, I searched for something to save. 

“Of course we can change our diet, fly less and drive less, but the single most important thing any one of us can do in the fight to save our planet is to communicate about it – whether that is directly to people in positions of power, through art, or in social conversations with those around us. The aim must not only be to change minds but also to win hearts. We mustn’t just argue using data, but also persuade using empathy. Let’s shine a torchlight on powerful governments and corporations who dodge accountability by trying to gaslight individuals. And let’s reward with loyalty those who show courage in putting the planet and its most vulnerable people first.”

J.H. Hewitt is a parent and writer – but most of her words get someone else’s byline.