Sally’s Staying With Me

Sophia Cheng / 3 min read / Cli-Fi Imaginarium
25 May 2021
Peatlands are revered for their efficient carbon storage but Alex has other ideas

New recruits find it strange when you look over into the pool and see no reflection, just a deep, dark vastness. It used to haunt me, now it soothes me. Nature’s not watching you here, not in that imposing way a mountain range is an all-seeing eye. The dark pools suck out the sunlight, the fog hangs heavy, covering your sins. Even the wind winds lazily between the stunted trees, dampening whispers.

In the early days I thought I pulled the Green New Deal short straw being posted to the bogs, especially knowing that Sally would be backlit by lush sunsets at Cornwall’s tidal plant, surfboard under arm, no doubt.

But in time the bogs have seduced me. And anyway I don’t need her. I picked the posting up here in the most northerly part of the reserve. I patrol an old industrial wasteland, a smoke stack or two peeks through, but nature’s claimed most of it back. She always does.

I relish the solitude. No signal and no awkward small talk with people you have to pretend to like. I find myself fantasising for hours, imagining Sally preserved in time at the bottom of the pool.

I imagine her traveling 2 days by bus all the way up here to come and beg for my forgiveness. I feign surprise when I see her. She’s all emotional walking towards me on the raised boardwalk by the pools. It’s drawn out and dramatic, like the movies. She babbles excuses the whole time, gesticulating, startling the crows. Under the rim of her hood, tears are streaked across her face mixed in with mascara. Her eyes are fixed on me. All of her is fixed on me. That’s all I need to know. Sally misses her next step, trips and falls in. There’s a sharp yelp but the weight of her bag pulls her down.

“Not so long ago these bogs were heavily degraded. Here’s a fun fact, recruits; since 2025 when the Global Restoration of Peatlands Act came into force, we’ve seen 5% more CO2 absorbed year on year. They are now the UK’s most efficient carbon sink.”

Mona shrilly reels off bog facts to the latest group of fresh-faced placements. She always sounds insufferably bubbly about the bogs. They congregate on the far side after walking single file along the boards that caress the pool.

It was carbon sequestration that brought me here, but it’s the dark history that keeps me here. Tales of brutal murders; throat slit from ear to ear, hangings and, my favourite, the two bodies holding each other, one with intestines protruding. Perfectly preserved.

The drizzle returns and the group scampers off, shielding under Gore-Tex hoods. I return to my reverie and gaze at the water, its surface disturbed by ripples. I picture Sally humming softly from the bottom of the pool.

Image Credit: Jayme Elkins – Estonia 2018

Source of inspiration: 9 Noteworthy Bog Bodies – Britannica

Avatar photo Sophia Cheng With a decade of communications experience across the for profit and nonprofit sectors, agency and in-house, Sophia has made a habit of making ‘the hard stuff’ more accessible. Since 2018, she has reorientated her life around the climate crisis. She has forged her decade of communications experience into offering workshops, mentoring, blogging, and more, on the biggest issues of our time. View all posts
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