Laguna Hills, CA
2022, Senior, Creative Writing
It happened on a typical Wednesday morning, but when the news hit, I knew I would remember that day, that moment, for the rest of my life. I was still sleeping when my assistant, Howie, burst into my room with a frazzled look on his face. You can understand why I was annoyed from the onset: not only had my assistant blatantly broken my “no entering without knocking” rule, but also the “no frazzled looks before 9 a.m.” rule, which I had just sent out a memo about three days before. As I made a mental note to add “fire assistant” to my to-do list, Howie began droning on and on about something or another.
“Howie, please, just give me the short version,” I finally interrupted, my irritation growing to unprecedented levels.
“Ms. CEO,” he hesitated a moment before revealing, “The Blue Beluga is dying.”
“What?” I instantly shot up, the news running through my body, waking me up like a shot of espresso. “What do you mean dying?”
“Well, it seems she’s sinking. The ocean levels are rising, and the experts estimate…”
“Oh, Howie,” I laughed as I realized what he was getting at. “Have you been reading the tabloids again?”
“I’m afraid it’s serious this time,” he said, pulling out his tablet and showing me a terrible image—an image that sent chills down my spine, an image I still wish I could unsee. There she was, my precious baby, the yacht I’d shared countless memories with for almost 20 years, with water rising dangerously high up her sides, threatening to drown her. I couldn’t stand to see her in such a condition. My heart swelled, bloody with rage.
“Why are you just standing there? Someone do something!” I shrieked and, the dutiful citizen I was, quickly called an emergency meeting.
* * *
“Thank you all for joining us today,” Howie addressed the conference room once all the experts had arrived. “We understand that it was short notice, so we are very appreciative of your attendance. This is important work we are doing here, and I want each and every one of you to feel proud of the contribution you are making to the team. Today we will be discussing the rising sea levels that are currently endangering the Blue Beluga, allegedly caused by the melting of the ice caps. Before we get started, I’ve prepared a little icebreaker—no pun intended—for us to play to get to know each other a little better. Why don’t we all go around and say our favorite ice cream flavor…”
“Howie, please!” I was furious. How could he waste so much time at a moment like this? “We need to find a way to save my Beluga, now!”
The room grew silent. “What kind of solution did you have in mind?” one of the experts tested me.
“I say we drain the ocean, and that we get started immediately.”
“Drain the ocean?”
“And what would we do with the drained ocean water?”
“Ship it off!” The experts exchanged a glance as I continued, “To China.” They began typing away on their computers, researching the logistics of my plan. I paced throughout the room, biting my nails and willing them to type faster.
After a few minutes, one of them spoke out. “Unfortunately, Ms. CEO, our sources tell us that our oceans are interconnected with those of China, and thus sending water to China would not alleviate the global issue of rising sea levels.”
I scowled, cursing globalization under my breath. “Well, alright, let’s think. What’s the root cause of all this? You mentioned something about ice cream?”
“Ice caps, yes. They’re melting.”
“Okay, okay, can we do something there? Maybe invest in some sort of giant industrial freezer? We could run an ad campaign urging citizens to donate their old freezer parts, market it as a good cause.”
“Unfortunately, the problem lies a little deeper. It’s mostly…” the expert looked around the room nervously before looking back at me. “It’s mostly the fossil fuels.”
“Well alright, then we run an ad campaign urging citizens to not use fossil fuels.” Why were they being so tedious and slow? Did they not understand the urgency?
“But,” she stammered, “You’re an oil company. You would lose all your sales…”
“Sales???” I could feel my face turning purple with anger, “I am in the middle of a crisis, and you have the audacity to mention sales?” I was practically fuming at her insensitivity. Had everyone always been so shallow and cold-hearted? Couldn’t they see what was at stake—my yacht?
“Come on,” I said, regaining my composure, “There has to be something we can do. I mean,” I choked back a sob, “it’s just so sudden. You know she was always so healthy… there were no signs…”
“We did everything we could,” one of the scientists offered.
“And you call yourself experts!” I shook my head in disgust. Arguments quickly broke out over who was to blame, the greedy scientists insisting that they had tried their best. What good did their “best” do me now? Why had they waited so long to do anything? Suddenly, Howie interrupted our shouts, “Guys, you’re gonna want to see this.”
We scampered to huddle around his tablet as live footage revealed the one thing I had feared most for the past 20 minutes: Blue Beluga succumbing to the ocean, irrevocable water damage wrought upon her custom steel finish as she sank, sank, sank. I dropped to my knees and let out a sob. I scanned the faces around me pleadingly, but was met only with indifference and annoyance at my outburst. “Why does nobody care?” I shrieked, pounding on the floor. Howie grabbed my arms, and shook me, and shook me, and…
“Ms. CEO, Ms. CEO…” Howie kept shaking me until I finally opened my eyes. “You were having a nightmare,” he said, letting me go.
“What?” I looked around, realizing I was back in my bedroom. Behind Howie’s head I could see my TV playing a news report, “…experts reveal the ocean is rising to unprecedented levels, and many species, like the beluga whale, could be in danger…” The memories of the morning flooded back to me, and I laughed with relief to realize it was just a dream. How ridiculous! I thought to myself as I remembered the details. Who would ever name their yacht “Blue Beluga”? I was almost ready to sleep away the memories when I remembered something I’d almost forgotten.
“Howie,” I called out, as he walked towards the door.
“Yes, Ms. CEO?”
“I thought I told you not to look frazzled this early in the morning. You’re fired.” I fell back against the pillow, slipping into a peaceful slumber, while around me the TV blared louder, and the water rose higher…
I believe the arts hold a unique ability to make information more compelling and accessible, to engage a wider range of audiences. With this in mind, my goal was to create a piece that laid bare, to any reader, the hypocrisies and absurdities of responses to climate change. After spending time learning about the climate injustices that we turn a blind eye to every day, I wanted to help others see these injustices in a creative and engaging way. I hope that as a society we will end the normalization of indifference to climate change, that we will stop accepting the unacceptable ignorance of CEOs and policy makers, and create a new culture that is based in sustainability.