You emerge. The soft touch of wind on your cheeks awakes an image in your mind; your backyard from the porch while sipping a beer. Cicadas belting out their flirting songs, shaking their booty like there is no tomorrow. Then, one day, there was no tomorrow. Not for you, not for a while.
Until you woke up. Todays and tomorrows started again.
So there you are, out of the hole. You blink, because hey, underground, the light is weak and you’ve been there a long time. You take a deep breath, but cough before your lungs fill up. So much oxygen. Despite still gasping, you smile. The sun prickles on your skin.
Contemplating the view on the ocean, you bite your apple, the one you took up with you. It’s been down there for as long as you have, so it’s wrinkled and probably doesn’t taste very good. It doesn’t matter. Everything tastes like sludge to you anyway.
Others have tried to come up before. Every time they came back gagging. Even masks can’t hold back the putrid smell. They say it’s like a thousand bodies decomposing on top of a million rotten eggs with a billion potent dog farts thrown in.
This is where your misfortune—a bad knock to the head when everyone scampered down for safety, away from the chaos of the protesting earth—turns into a good fortune. Before then, you’d never heard of anyone losing their sense of smell because of head trauma. The name of the condition—anosmia—sounds like a fancy cocktail or an exotic fruit.
A tinge of sadness squeezes your chest. It’s difficult to keep up the hopes of your taste returning someday.
You remove your backpack as you turn, putting the sound of the waves behind you. Gently pushing aside the multitude of seeds and super-concentrated, lab-made fertiliser, you take a small container, open it and close it. They reckon—with enough samples over a span of days—they’ll be able to calculate when the bad air will be tolerable. Until then, you have all of these farmlands for yourself.
You smile as you wade through the hip-high grass. Your destination is at the far end of the field. As you get closer, you notice fruit hanging from the fruit trees around the building. Tears roll along the creases your wide smile makes. Your favourite is among them. Mangos.
Fresh food might make enough people love you. Hopefully that fills up the emptiness made by the lack of happiness when eating.
You’re a farmer now.