Short Story: Wind
Image courtesy of twitter user @intrepidwanders
Dad took me to look at the turbines again today. I didn’t want to go. We’ve been every day this week, and he just gets angry and upset. I suppose I can understand it; I’m not altogether happy about it either, but I’ve got used to it. And it’s only been three weeks, the wind is bound to start blowing again soon.
I suggested to Mum that she go along instead, but she gave me “that look” and I realised that wasn’t going to happen. I even offered to do the washing while she was out – we’ve had to start washing our clothes in an old bath in the yard. It’s a nasty job and I hate doing it – not that we have all that much washing at the moment; we tend to wear most of our clothes to keep warm. Anyway, with no hot water we don’t tend to bathe all that often. Nobody does. I don’t even notice the smell any more. It’s not all that practical at this time of year anyway, the clothes just freeze on the line and don’t dry at all. But despite my offer she said she’d rather stay at home and look after Parton.
Parton is our dog. He’s a cross between a German Shepherd and, well, quite a lot of other types of dog probably, but at least one of them must have been St Bernard because he has a very woolly coat and he’s very cuddly. I think that’s the real reason Mum wanted to stay at home; Parton is a good way to keep warm.
Dad keeps going on about the house not having a chimney. He says we could have gathered driftwood from the beach, like he and Mum did when they were first married and money was tight and they couldn’t afford coal. Not that there’s any coal nowadays; and anyway they say it caused Global Warming, and apparently that was a bad thing. I’m not sure about that. I think we could maybe do with some Global Warming around now. Anyway, he says, it should be a lesson for when I’m older: never buy a house without a chimney.
So we go to the site, Dad walking, I ride alongside him on my bike. Normally we’d have taken the car, but without power we can’t recharge the batteries, so it’s just sitting in the street where it’s been for the last few weeks. We leaned on the fence, and I can see one of the turbines just turning, ever so slowly, but at least it’s turning. I point it out to Dad but he just grunts. After a while, he spreads his arms as if embracing the scene, and says “Behold, the future! Abundant clean energy for all!”
I try to “Behold”, but all I see is row upon row of turbines, stretching far into the distance. Dad says they cover about thirty square miles, and much of the land here used to be common land, shared by the people who live around here. Around 2020 it was taken over by the Department of Energy and Mother Earth to protect the natural environment. D.E.M.E. sold the land to a Chinese Energy company, who promptly covered it with Wind Turbines.
I tell Dad to look on the bright side. At least while they aren’t turning the birds will be OK, and as if on cue a large flock of geese fly overhead, their V formation broken temporarily as they fly between the blades, heading south. Dad almost smiled, although it was more a kind of grimace. He doesn’t say anything; just watches the birds until at first they become a fuzzy blob in the distance, and then finally disappear out of sight.
One Saturday afternoon around this time last year Dad had come home really upset. He’d been to the garage to pick up a replacement part for the car, and on his way back he’d stopped at a lay-by alongside the turbine’s field. That day, just like today, a flock of geese had been heading South; but unlike today the turbines had been working. With tears in his eyes, Dad described how more than half the birds had been smacked out of the sky by the turbine blades. When he saw what was happening, he climbed the fence and ran into the field to see what he could do to help the poor creatures, but there was nothing he could do but weep over them; they were all either dead or dying; broken beyond any hope of repair.
We walk back in silence, the sky glows deep red as the sun goes down, then darkness.
I’m not sure how long it was before we noticed the breeze. Gentle at first, then stronger. As we near the town the street lights are coming to life. Getting closer, people come out of their houses, talking, making jokes, laughing. Dad wants to talk to everyone; handshakes, backslapping, and all smiles. Happy, hopeful faces.
Back inside we shrug off our coats, gloves, hats. It’s warm inside. The lights are on. The TV is on. Mum is snuggled up with Parton and a cup of hot chocolate. I dash to the kitchen to put the kettle on. Dad says he’d like a coffee.
I bring the drinks through to the living room, hand Dad his coffee and settle down into the armchair by the door.
It’s that young weatherman tonight, the blonde one who always wears that wrinkly jacket. Mum starts to say something but Dad tells her to shush.
”… pressure that has brought the cold weather has finally moved on, and the next few days will bring quite a bit of rain to most parts, and strong winds affecting travel throughout the North West. By the weekend things should settle down again, a new high pressure system is moving in from the Atlantic which will bring much calmer weather for the next couple of weeks … “