2021, Junior, Creative Writing
The giant factory is an eyesore. That’s why it’s placed in a large, open, concrete area, far away from most big cities. It takes the employees hours to drive there, for jobs that don’t pay well. But it’s a way of life that everyone has adjusted to.
The towering smokestacks, at first glance, give the illusion of outputting clouds. But blink, and you see cloudy, polluted smog, rising higher and higher into the sky. The smog dissolves into the atmosphere.
In the distant horizon behind the Serendipity, an esteemed cruise ship, one can see the smoky, foggy, clouds from the giant factory, though no one pays the least bit of attention to them. The Serendipity is headed off on its course that circles the Arctic Sea. Wealthy people have gathered on the ship, after paying extreme prices for the chance to ride it.
One of these families boarding the ship is a single father and his daughter. His little girl wears a puffy red coat over two layers, jumping around in brand-new rainbow boots. They set sail, and after a few seasick days and nights, the first iceberg comes into sight, towering majestically.
They’ve entered the territory of glaciers and polar bears, leaving clouded, polluted skies behind. The air is freezing and fresh here.
“Look, Daddy!” The little girl in the red coat is lifted up in her father’s arms. Her chubby little finger points toward a glacier. “It looks like a unicorn!”
Her father laughs. “It’s a glacier, sweetheart.”
The icy shape vaguely resembles that of a mythical unicorn. The little girl squeals in excitement. “Wow! I discovered it! I’m gonna name it Unicorn Rock!”
“It’s not a rock, darling,” her father says endearingly.
“It’s an ice rock!” she pouts.
The father laughs at his daughter’s antics, spinning her around in the air.
A white bear with matted fur and a weary expression dives underwater, below a massive metal form. Bubbles disperse from its motor, floating up to the surface of the sea. The polar bear does not follow the path of the ship. Instead, she stops to rest on an ice cap. It’s a small sheet of ice, worn thin by warm temperatures. It’s the only ice sheet for miles. What will she do now, she wonders?
She dives back into the sea, following the currents, hoping the waters that have guided her all her life will complete her long journey home.
The bear swims and swims. It is her nature to do so. She swims to a coastal town made up of colorful buildings. Little boats line the shore. It’s nothing like the glassy ice age she lives in.
She ignores the gray skies and cracks of thunder as she walks around. The first person who sees her screams and flees.
The bear herself prefers to fight for her ground rather than make a cowardly escape, but the inhabitants of this colony do not feel the same way.
Then the bear notices the water that’s rising slowly, soaking her already wet fur.
A boy shuts the door of his two-story turquoise house. It’s a bright color, which isn’t unusual in these parts. Neither are the floods and storms. His house is on the very tip of the coast, which used to be a pride and joy of his family. However, having a seaside house became sorely regrettable after the floods started. Now the floor is often damp, the weather channel is always on, and the roof is always leaking.
The waters shake and thrash outside. The boy hurriedly boards up the windows so that the glass doesn’t shatter and the water doesn’t seep in.
This is almost a daily ritual now. Hear the flood warning, protect the house, then hide up in the attic. It won’t be long until this city is completely submerged, and everyone knows it. The floods are just the beginning.
He glances out the last sliver of window that’s not covered up and sees a little red boat washing out to sea as saltwater fills the cracks and crevices in the streets.
The Arctic glaciers dwindle in the north, while water levels flourish all over the planet. The two effects are closely interconnected.
Years later, back at what the girl in the red coat dubbed Unicorn Rock, another cruise ship passes by.
A woman holds her binoculars up to her eyes with one hand. The other holds a picture of a unicorn-shaped glacier. She promised herself she’d see it again, and she’s finally getting the chance.
Except nothing looks the same anymore. She holds the picture up to the skyline, comparing the past with the present. You could only see the resemblance if you went back in time, watching a timelapse of the changes that occurred. You would see what looked a bit like a regal unicorn, carved in ice, and you would see it melt, drop by drop, into a pitiful little thing, until it was just another part of an ocean drowning in itself.
2020, and the start of 2021, have been some of the hardest times of my life. I felt like the Covid-19 situation made all the other global problems we're facing loom larger. And climate change is one of the biggest problems of our time. I didn't know very much about climate change or its effects on the ocean until I did some research for this project. I decided to enter this project in the hope that I would have the accomplishment of winning a contest. But then I read articles, I read poems, I viewed art—all showing the enormously detrimental effect climate change has on the seas. That's when my goal changed. I didn't care much about winning anymore. New goal: show people that we need to fix this. Show people how we have to change. Words cannot compress the rising seas. They cannot freeze the melting glaciers. They cannot cool the heating atmosphere. But they can pave a pathway toward all those things, which is the best way to start.