Now We Are Green – Preview
A little while ago the author and poet Luke Andreski was commissioned to write a fictional account of the rise of the New Creationist eco-philosophy. To help him achieve this I provided Luke with complete access to the history of New Creationism and to the formative events in the lives of both myself and my family. I have held nothing back from authorial scrutiny. The work, recently completed, is called Now We Are Green. I asked Luke for a sneak preview for Angie’s Diary – and here it is:
“Our enemies join ranks to defend their privileges, to defend their right to take us with them towards environmental doom. What is this sickness that afflicts us? How can they think that the right to lead our species to its death is somehow sacrosanct?”
‘Arctic ice cap “will be gone in 25 years” ’
– It’s Sunday! May 2014
In the intrepid way of the Tarkovskys, they went for a picnic a few days after the storm.
Rachel’s mother made flasks of coffee and green tea. Her father made sandwiches out of homemade bread. Loaded down with food, newspapers, cold weather clothes they rallied forces beside the front door. Bill called out, ‘Paul! We’re leaving without you!’ He peered through the windows at the overcast sky
Mary: ‘Why does it always take Paul ten thousand years to leave the house?’
Then the boy in question came racing down the stairs, clutching a science fiction novel in one hand, a half-eaten sandwich in the other. Rachel couldn’t help but giggle.
‘Don’t look at me like that!’ he said. ‘I’ve been ready for ages!’
Their car – battered as it was – was one of the few electric vehicles worth buying at the start of the millennium: a Nissan Altra EV capable of 120 miles per charge. Bill kept it on the drive under a solar panel which swiveled over the car’s roof when it was parked. Solar energy charged up the batteries when the vehicle wasn’t in use. Bill pushed the panel aside, circled the car while Mary climbed into the driving seat. ‘Can’t you stop being so tall, Bill?’ his wife asked, adjusting the mirror. Then the seat: ‘And so longitudinal?’
They reached Coomb Down in under an hour. Paul tumbled out of the car and raced down the familiar footpath. Rachel followed a little way behind. Their parents caught up when they were standing beside a tree that had been struck down by the storm. It looked misshapen and ugly, earth clinging to the twisted, dangling roots, stones grinning horribly from strange nooks and crannies. Paul leaned forward to shake one of the roots and soil cascaded into the crater where once the tree had been. Rachel kicked at the trunk. ‘Look at what the storm did.’
Mary hunched her shoulders against the cold. ‘Two hundred years of life… and now this…’
When the valley leveled out they unfolded the picnic blanket and sat facing away from the battered woodland, gazing down at the Somerset Levels. Mary and Bill wrapped the blanket over their legs and poured tea and coffee from flasks that inhaled the cold January air and exhaled steam. The children ate their sandwiches then went exploring in the woods.
Between the trees, it reeked of fungus and rotting leaves, outer fortifications of hawthorn and hazel opening onto birches and beeches and an occasional oak. There were more fallen trees lying on their sides as if thrown down by passing giants. Clambering over one, Paul tore loose the pocket of his jeans. ‘Dad will be certain we’ve been climbing now – so there’s no reason not to,’ he said.
‘Except that it’s dangerous.’
‘Mum doesn’t think so. All the dead wood’s been blown down.’
So Paul found a particularly tall and dangerous-looking tree and began to scramble up through the branches as though his life depended on it.
Rachel held back.
She didn’t want to die.
‘Paul! Are you alright?’ Rachel looked up into the tree. Everything had been quiet up there for quite some time. She could just make Paul out. His face was a frightened shimmer high amongst the branches.
‘You can’t be stuck. You only just climbed up there.’
‘But I can’t work out how to get back down!’
Rachel climbed a little way up the tree. She thought she could see an escape route. ‘Just put your foot on the branch down here,’ she pointed. ‘That should do it.’
Paul reached down with his foot. ‘I can’t. I’ll fall.’
‘You’re almost there!’
‘I can’t, Rachel!’
‘Don’t you remember how you got up there?’
Rachel stared up through the branches. ‘I’ll have to fetch dad. Then he’ll know we’ve been climbing.’
‘I don’t care. Just hurry!’
Rachel scrambled down from the tree and ran back the way they had come – or at least the way she thought they had come. In no time at all, she began to think she might be lost. Looking over her shoulder she wasn’t even sure she could remember which tree Paul was in. Then she burst into the open not far from her parents.
‘Paul’s stuck! In a tree!’
‘Not again…’ Bill said.
‘Didn’t your father say not to climb any trees?’ Mary asked.
After helping Paul down Bill just stood there, his hands on Paul’s shoulders, looking into his face. Paul smiled back at him happily – and for a moment Rachel imagined she saw a beam of light shining between them, connecting them in some curious almost magical way. She saw something else, too, in her father’s expression. For just an instant, standing there amongst the trees, it seemed to Rachel that her father was looking at Paul as if he would soon have to leave him as if he would soon have to say goodbye.
When Paul eventually ran ahead, Rachel said, ‘You’re always getting Paul out of trouble, and he’s always making you rescue him… He does it on purpose.’
‘Perhaps she does,’ Bill said. ‘Though I don’t really think so. And, even if she did, why would it matter?’ He put his arm around Rachel’s shoulders as they walked along the edge of the trees. ‘I wish I could rescue both of you, Rachel. I wish I could protect you both from every possible danger, forever and ever… but I don’t think I can.’ He paused, looking out over the valley. ‘The danger you need protecting from is far too formidable – and it’s already with us, already here. And do you know what the worst thing is? The worst thing is that we’ve brought it on ourselves.’
The day changed quickly after that. The sky grew dark and the wind picked up. Soon it became too cold even for walking and they headed back towards the car.
‘Another storm on its way,’ Bill said as he slammed shut the car door.
Mary didn’t look at him. She switched on the engine and waited as it hummed into life. Pulling out onto the road, she said, ‘You shouldn’t talk like that. Not in front of the children. It’ll frighten them.’
‘We’re in for another storm. It’s a statement of fact.’
‘Even so,’ Mary said.