It had been years, a generation almost, since the old ones had departed; some of our youngest daughters had grown curious. Long enough to forget how they hate us, how infuriating the simple act of not needing them could be. They pooh-poohed our warnings who were not alive to remember; what was the worst that could happen?
I remember that sail, white against the horizon, lost in the vapor, how it looked cresting the waves. In the sunlight, it could have been a bird’s wing, a dove beating hard between narrowing cliffs, or an errant plume escaped from Charybdis’s grinning mouth. We all gathered to watch it brave the shoreline, figuring it would be a good story to tell our granddaughters, how we watched the old world try for one last foothold before falling away.
I remember how brave our queen looked, how proud, how glorious the music was beating from the city walls. The gates were opened, the way swept smooth, and she walked up to the palace, her hand light upon the head sailor’s sea-rank arm. We received so few visitors, after all.
It took so little. In a year, less, a handful of seasons, we were scattered to the winds, our shining stones pulled down to the weeds, harpies perched foul and mocking in our concert halls. They had come for conquest, and had no patience for the history of our moment.
What is rare must be fleeting; what is new must be beaten down.