The once beautiful blue planet is now unrecognisable.
Mountains of faded plastic piled up so high that I couldn’t even find a clean spot to step on. The foul stench, so deeply ingrained that even the finest air filter proves to be futile. Swarms of locust painted the skies black. Has it always looked like that…? Pictures of white clouds were only rare collections carefully stacked away in the capital’s treasury. I remember seeing it as a child. It was wonderful, and so colourful.
My wife was holding our only child. A very skinny woman with her eyes engulfed by dark circles. Our son is called Noah. His eyes were shut from birth, and had a mobile ventilator attached ever since. The doctor warned us that he couldn’t live past five. It’s only been three years, yet it seems like he has already met his end. His tiny face gray, and the last signs of life seems to have dithered into the toxic air.
We weren’t sad. At all. We knew this was coming.
Too many had died around us. We were numb. There’s no need for compassion and sympathy, since we’ll probably soon follow.
I held Noah one last time. I tried to summon tears, tears that’d still made me feel alive, but nothing came out. I didn’t have any feelings for this child, there were zero interactions. It just felt like a parasite clinging onto me.
She ushered again.
I lowered him into the dark waste waters.
Bit by bit its body began to fade until nothing was left behind.
Prompt of the week required choosing a resolution, then working backwards to generate a narrative. I have chosen ‘Bit by bit its body began to fade until nothing was left behind’.
Given the nature of the theme, I have chosen to complete a short creative writing piece because it felt easier to work backwards, and to highlight the exact details I want viewers to notice (numbness, lack of compassion and hope). I started by writing down the prompt at the bottom, and tried to formulate reasoning for this occurrence. The prompt itself felt sad and conflicted by nature, so I’d ought to keep the narrative that way.
This narration was heavily inspired by the documentary ‘A Plastic Ocean’ directed by Craig Leeson. As of 2016, 8 million tons of plastic were dumped into the ocean every year. It was heartbreaking to watch people and animals being strangled by the situation. The idea of a trash mountain seems far for a lot of us, because we’re shielded from the truth of land-fill based communities having to grow crops on 40 years of trash. Through my work, I wanted to draw viewers closer to this sad reality and feel its heavy impacts.
During the production of this piece, I’ve edited and re-wrote many sentences, even paragraphs to ensure that the dark (hard to breathe) nature of the text is clear. In the original draft, the two lines of speech were “Liam...He’s gone…(starts crying)” and “Liam. There’s a toxic storm incoming”. These were changed to just “Liam” because I wanted readers to comprehend for themselves the implication of these two lines. Upon the baby’s passing, most would expect wailing and extreme sadness from the characters. However, these two felt nothing. Again, this is for readers to question why they would behave this way, thus grasping a deeper understanding of the situation of the characters. There is no hope, no emotion, just pure numbness. The very last line was originally planned to be “Goodbye, stranger”, but it was changed to “Goodbye, Noah”. It seeks to hint the internal conflict of the character (he’s trying hard not to care but he still does), and adds a human touch to the otherwise cold and distant characters. Ultimately, they are still human with a heart.