Warning Systems

Warning Systems
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Picture Credits: Stefan Keller

Warning systems

4 hours before: The first sign is deep in the earth, a tremble becoming a tremor. There is time to flee to higher ground.

 49-year-old Xavier Da Sousa leans backs in his 22nd floor Canary Wharf office, sinking into his first Glenfiddich of the day. The slight tremor in his right hand causes drops of amber liquid to bounce off the edge of his Waterford crystal glass. He picks them up, one by one, with a wetted finger, the way his father chased grains of rice even in the throes of Parkinson’s. He tastes earth, and ash.

In the end, he needn’t have worried. He outlives them all.

 45-year-old Elisabeth Da Sousa smiles through the aftershocks from her second ever orgasm, enjoying the tremors rolling deep in her belly. The purple-haired woman sprawled across her runs a pale hand over her dimpled brown thighs. This newly discovered pleasure feels so undeserved she takes it as retribution that this is what she was doing as the wave gathered pace.

Eventually, she dies alone in her Richmond garden flat, dreaming of a woman she can’t name.

2 hours before: Then, water may recede from the coast, exposing the ocean floor, reefs and fish. Some escape routes may be cut off.

22-year-old Mary Da Sousa drops the coral earrings she’s borrowed from her mother into the  sink at Café Rouge, an attempt at returning them to their original habitat. She throws her blue plastic hairnet in after, an expert at the right dramatic gesture to use before leaving a room. She takes the expression on her ex-manager’s face and the clapping of her former co-workers as her due.

Ultimately, when she returns herself to the ocean ten years later in unnecessary sacrifice, it’s only accompanied by the shushing of the waves.

 22-year-old Marcus Da Sousa scrubs the last piece of grime from the empty tropical fish tank that was the twins’ joint 12th birthday present. His father wanted to replace them but it wouldn’t have been the same. He talks to Maggie, the long dead Forktail Rainbow fish, the way he always did when his bronchitis flared up. He talks about it the most after, the space that’s left, he’s even interviewed, holding back tears, on local TV.

So the painful way his lungs fill with water for the final time makes it into the papers, the son of the financial genius, the brother of a teenage mermaid.

 19 yr old Magdalena Da Sousa, Maggie to her friends, lies back on the deserted white sand beach, and puts in her headphones. It’s how she’s always dealt with the arguments she lives in, whether the voices in her house were too loud or too quiet, or when she needed to recharge. She’s started ‘Their Eyes are Watching God’ in the middle and already read the last page, something that her brother, her favourite teacher, would frown about. She immerses herself in Janie Crawford’s life.

  She never knows she’s exactly 30 minutes from solid ground.

29 minutes before: An approaching tsunami creates a wall of water and loud “roaring” sound similar to that of a train or jet aircraft, unmistakeable if you can hear it. Run.

Anita Goveas

About Anita Goveas

Anita Goveas is British-Asian, London-based, and fueled by strong coffee and paneer jalfrezi. She was first published in the 2016 London Short Story Prize anthology, most recently in X-Ray lit, Flash Frontier and Bending Genres. She’s on the editorial team at Flashback Fiction, an editor at Mythic Picnic’s Twitter zine, and her debut flash collection is forthcoming from Reflex Press in 2020

Anita Goveas is British-Asian, London-based, and fueled by strong coffee and paneer jalfrezi. She was first published in the 2016 London Short Story Prize anthology, most recently in X-Ray lit, Flash Frontier and Bending Genres. She’s on the editorial team at Flashback Fiction, an editor at Mythic Picnic’s Twitter zine, and her debut flash collection is forthcoming from Reflex Press in 2020

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