The following short story was sent in to us by BGF 2019 applicant, Heather. Inspired by our website Heather decided to write a powerful short fictional story about the consequences of inaction on climate change. Read on below for her thought-provoking and well-written story:
It’s not like we hadn’t seen the pictures. We’d been bombarded with them. They were in all the newspapers; death, destruction and water. Pictures of fifteen thousand year old icebergs, that tumbled into oblivion, of polar bears fighting for their last breath. Depicted among a magnitude of water and destroyed human construction, we’d all seen how people’s gaunt faces haunted lifeboats or desperately constructed emergency rafts. The horrendous death toll from climate change induced forest fires, floods and famines.
It had always seemed so far away.
Programmed deep in all our cores was the default routine we used when the reality of our carbon dioxide loving actions was highlighted in the news. First, talk about how sad it is. Then, discuss how we’d change. Next, turn the TV off. Finally, forget all about it and carry on your love affair with greenhouse gases.
Reality tugged back to me, as the water thrust my head around to display how the news’ depressing images had become our reality. Illuminated by the young sun’s arrival was a scene that was not unfamiliar, yet instead one that had been echoed in images from throughout the world.
While the new-born light on the horizon, paraded her arrival, with a myriad of pastel sunrise colours, she unwrapped her gift; our just desert. It did not look real. It did not feel real. It could not be real - this couldn’t happen to us - but it was real.
It was our comeuppance.
Trees stretched above the water, while homes remained totally submerged, identifiable only by television satellites that fought with the sole hope of surviving the upcoming torrent of water. Oceans worth of water were terrorizing me with the threat of drowning: of death.
Partially blinding me with the power of its rays, the sun determinedly reflected off the jaundiced water’s ever-changing surface. For a second - one second - the water lay flat and teamed up with the sun, like a mirror determined to portray the truth with every blemish. This fleeting taunt demonstrated the full extent of the terror enveloping my face, inconsequential compared to the overshadowing devastation encompassing me.
That’s when I noticed it. Him? Her? Hiding directly in the neonate sunlight I watched the ageing labrador, losing a struggling battle to paddle for its life against the infinite attacks the water mounted. Closing my eyelids, I wished to forget its fearful eyes that flitted about begging for any type of help, for night to fall and obscure my only companion. Those eyes. Eyes that were a sublime mixture of emerald green and soulful brown with jet black pupils that begged for help. I had no help to give. Then it was gone, swept away by the relentless current, an innocent dog. The cost of ignoring that leaflet on solar panels and renewable energy.
Isolation began to sink in as a scream resonated. Louder than the rushing waves, it sounded so close, the person so desperate. I didn’t know where it was coming from. There was nothing I could do: I felt so helpless. Quiet ensued broken only by the relentless water; I wished for the scream to come back, to know the person was okay, to know I wasn’t alone. The cost of turning on the energy draining electric lights instead of opening the curtains for the natural daylight outside.
Flailing about I began to tire, to stop fighting, and to let the water take me. Salty sea-water filled my lungs and black spots began occurring on my blurring vision. Then I felt someone's hand, I thought there was someone there, that I wasn’t alone. The hand was cold, claylike - dead. Someone’s life. The cost of taking your car instead a bike.
That person's life. Just another statistic on the front of a newspaper. Not another person - a number. One thousand and one deaths instead of one thousand. As I closed my eyes and let the water embrace me, I prepared to make the number of dead one thousand and two. I wished the governments had done something. I wished other people had done something. I wished I’d done something.
My last thought was there is still time for them to do something, still time for you. For you to make that small change, to stop relentlessly throwing away so much plastic, to stop flying as much, to stop… Blackness.