Tides are getting higher, much higher than before.
Water is flowing into the wooden house built
on the highest point on this island. He stands in front
of the house, murmuring, “I guess it’s the last day.”
He isn’t sad; he is even slightly surprised
that he didn’t suddenly become hysterical
and cry out loud with desperation.
He feels peaceful. He just feels that it’s fate,
and the time is finally coming.

He looks around. Winds are blowing,
and the seawater has risen above his ankle.
He is the last man on the island.

* * *
July, 2008
The island was his beloved hometown. The sunshine, coconut trees, beaches and blue sea kept attracting thousands of tourists from all over the world.
He never felt alone — music played all night and dancing seemed never to stop. He loved the visitors, who often smiled at him, tried to talk to him, and asked him to show them around. He didn’t really understand what they were saying, but he liked the feeling of meeting people and seeing them expressing love and appreciation for his hometown. He felt proud to be a native islander.

But he had never shown the tourists one place — the cave on the highest mountain of the island. That’s the secret place for him and his friends.
“Manaaki! Amaia! I got some really unique stones under a big coconut tree near the bay! Let’s store it here.” He carefully walked into the cave and put his stones on a shiny collection of rare rocks and pebbles. There were also bird bones and strangely shaped branches on the ground that were collected by them.
They were also good tree climbers. Manaaki always picked the best coconuts for them, and they would sit in the cave and drink the juice. Amaia would braid beautiful leaf rings for them. They thought they were blessed to be living on this island.

* * *
June, 2017
He was a young adult now, and helping his parents with fishing was his daily task. He didn’t want to admit it — but he started to feel that changes were happening to the island. Tropical storms and hurricanes attacked the island more often than in previous years, and the weather was becoming unbearable. There were not as many tourists on this island as before — they usually said it was too hot and safety couldn’t be guaranteed.
Each time after storms or hurricanes attacked the island, he and other islanders would have to spend a lot of time on reconstruction. Their wooden house sometimes collapsed, and several coconut trees even got blown down. The beaches were getting smaller. Sea level started to rise, and the shoreline retreated.

He often heard senior islanders talking about these phenomena. He heard something he had never learned, like “global warming,” “sea level rise,” “climate change,” and “immigration.” He didn’t understand them at the beginning, but he started to realize that these strange phrases may be crucial to the island and what was happening to it.
* * *
March, 2025

Modern technology landed on the island. People could see what was happening around the world at one click away. More often than not the headlines were political events, but sometimes he saw his island’s name in them. “The island will sink 50 years from now… Climate change is looming on the tropical tourist attraction…”
He sensed the fear deep inside of him. It can’t be true! But then everything started to connect. The extreme weather events, the retreating shoreline, the unbearably high temperatures… Everything made sense.

But why? The islanders never drove cars or manufactured items that would produce the greenhouse gases which the news agency suggested was the cause of global warming.
He couldn’t understand. In his small world of coconut trees, blue sea, and friendly visitors, he was confused about how all these changes happened.

* * *
November, 2042
He had a wife and two children now. The children had much more limited space to play in, though. There was no beach anymore, and most islanders moved onto the mountains of the island.
One day, people saw a ship approaching the island. Some neatly-dressed strangers came down with sympathetic looks. They told the islanders that they should leave and immigrate to other countries, because the island would be under the sea very soon. Some islanders hesitated, but finally agreed. Most of the islanders, including him, Manaaki and Amaia, refused to do so, “We don’t want to leave! If this island sinks, we will sink with it. This is our home and we will never go away!”

The strangers took away some islanders, who cried and waved goodbye to the ones who stayed. The remaining islanders stood still on the beach, watching the ship vanish at the horizon.
* * *
February, 2055
People died one after another due to lack of food, dehydration and hurricanes. There were only several people alive now.
Last year he went to the secret cave for the last time. Water had entered the cave, and it would soon be gone as well. The beautiful rocks were still there, and he recalled his childhood with Manaaki and Amaia. Good old days, he thought, good old days. But he can’t go back.

* * *
December, 2071
He is the last man on the island.
The Sun comes out, and something
floating on the sea is glittering.
He thinks, is this God’s light?
Can the island be saved?
The glittering thing drifts towards him,
and he could now see clearly what it is.
A plastic bottle. He shakes his head gently.

* * *
He jumps into the sea.
The island becomes permanently silent.

* * *
The Sun then vanishes,
Clouds painfully growl.
Rain starts to pour,
Wind starts to roar.
Now Mother Nature speaks:
“The lowland tropical island sank,
Along with its memories.
The nonchalant killers still thrive on vast continents,
But fate will ultimately come to them.
The last one on the island,
Is brought to the abyss by me,
Please guess, my friend,
Who’s next?”

Ningning Sun is a 17-year-old high school student from Xiamen, China. She loves writing about global warming, climate change and environmental protection, and she believes that through writing one can raise others’ awareness. She also loves writing allegories and philosophical thoughts. She likes listening to light music.