Eventually the ocean caught us. We didn’t make it to Iowa, and we watched the salt water inundate our forests and our fields, drowning our feasts in rotting fish and tangled seaweed. Sara and I kept walking west, though the smell of the sea was intoxicating and threatened to turn us around, to turn our eyes down at the surface of the water and sink away before we ever looked upon the hills of Iowa.
Were the hills simply a myth? We waded ankle deep for days as the breeze and the salt spray tangled our hair and stung our eyes and we never said a word. We had nothing to say. Carolina was behind us, in the ocean, and when we had descended the western hills of the Appalachians we found the ocean there too. And still we heard stories of the high plains, from boys who paddled around us in kayaks and offered us precious food, precious water.
But after a month, as we grew thin and weary, I leaned against Sara and whispered, “We are going to die here.” And in the shadow of the approaching storm, smelling the ozone on the air, she said, “I know.” And we held hands, and we let ourselves sit in the warm ocean, and we fell asleep together in the rising flood.