Maybe it will be one storm that does it all in, one big monstrous Colossus that wipes the coast off the face of the map. Like a primal god, it would open a giant maw and take a chunk from the shore and belch high winds that blow everything away.
Or maybe it will be the slow creep of water, crawling out of the drains, onto the streets, over the sidewalks and through the doorways. It will happen slow and we'll try to push it back, try to build ourselves up, but it will come. Every day we'll wake up to find the ocean just a little closer until one day it's lapping up by the breakfast table. Maybe some of us will sprinkle down sand, sink our toes in, insisting it's better this way with our own personal beaches. No need to leave the door for your walk along the seashore.
But what's more likely is that we'll just leave. Slowly, eventually, we'll all find somewhere else. The water will rise and the storms will come and before the water reaches our kitchen or the storms eat us alive, we'll just go. It'll be too expensive to replace shingles and carpet and hope. Some will leave quickly, picking up children and jobs and moving inland, higher up, as far from the rain as they can get. Others will leave slower, building, engineering, promising that more money and drains and walls will make it safe and livable. Eventually, they'll realize too and go, crying into the salt water.
Some will stay, of course. They'll drill their feet deep into the sand and strap themselves to bollards, opening their mouths to let the salt water in. This is my home, they'll say and we'll write down their stories and talk about them when they're gone, when we're all gone away somewhere else and the water keeps creeping, creeping. That's what will be left, eventually, those stories. When the houses and restaurants and little T-shirt shops are all full of seagrass and when the turtles swim through the streets, we'll have the stories of this place that used to be.
At the end, that's all we'll have - stories. When we've retreated to high ground, to northern climates chasing cooler weather, when we've taken to the stars in desperation, we can only remember. We'll think about those cities on the edge of land, that stood in the face of storms, and how we were crazy to stay. We'll think about the buses and boats that took them away and how we were crazy to leave.