Peer Review by Wicked! (India)

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Lost Oceans

By: seaomelette


FREE WRITING

"What were oceans like?" asked Ari, tugging on her grandmother's hand.

They were stumbling up a steep incline, when Ari, a bright-eyed little thing, had spouted out her question. The girl windmilled her arms wildly as her dust-filled boots sought purchase on the sandy gravel.

Jen, her grandmother, remained at a loss for words. How could she describe such a vast, indescribable entity--that swirling azure stretch, that crashing, thunderous cliff of waves, that whisper of the faintest break of water, that mystical body that she herself had almost forgotten? She shook her head, as if to clear it of those solemn memories, and allowed herself to murmur platonically to the girl--

"Well, darling, they were large bodies of blue salt water."

Ari paused for a moment, digesting her grandmother's words. She recognized the vague, neutral tone of her textbooks in them but dropped the furling inquisition as she was pulled over another hill. Stuffed in their clunky ventilator suits, Ari and her grandmother bent with some difficulty and sat down on the top of the next craggy outcropping.

The landscape had not changed since they'd last come. The sky was still a faded gray, the earth still cracked and barren--and dust still roiled in the air and along the ground in amber curlicues. There was that same utter desolation, that same eerie beauty across the infinite abyss, that same remoteness perpetuated by the bleak towers of conglomerated plastic, the half-buried skeletons of unknown creatures, the stark daggers of fossilized corals, like claws reaching up into the stoic sky. 

This...this abandoned canyon, was all that was left of the Atlantic Ocean. Lost to her memories, Jen reminisced on what it once was. She contemplated a younger version of herself, laughing with her father. They were on a green boat--the Mermaid--as Jen herself had named it, and sailing out on the great azure expanse. Younger Jen was leaning out over the railing, dipping a hand into the crystalline waters that surrounded them. Dolphins, sleek and silvery, leapt and cavorted, splashing drops of seawater on her face. Like the watery world they swam in, the dolphins were equally hazy in Jen's memory. She strained to recall their slender bodies, slicing effortlessly through the aquamarine waves, but realized they had become mere gray cylinders in her mind's eye. The true color of the waves, too, had been forgotten.

And with that, the imagined taste of salt turned to dust on Jen's tongue. The dolphins shrilled, one desperate, haunting sound, their lustrous skin sloughing off in gruesome curls, uncovering the paleness of bone. A horrific grayness washed over the ocean, and in the place of foamy waves, there rose the bloated bodies of decaying fishes and the crumpled shards of plastic refuse. 

Through the last shimmer of cerulean, once vibrant corals crumbled and bleached deathly white. Dust crashed across the horizon in harsh umber torrents, obscuring the dimming orb that was the sun. The choked waters dwindled, leaving only the disintegrating skeletons of sea creatures and the familiar towers of conglomerated plastic.

Jen blinked, and those same uneven peaks trembled before her, as did those same withered vestiges of lost sea life. Taking a steadying breath, she inhaled a nose-full of dust that had snuck its way past her gauzy helmet. Beside her, Ari had fallen quiet. Her small, gloved hands scrabbled in the dust that engulfed her knees, as she stared out solemnly across the barren canyon. 

They sat there silently, two dusty phantoms in the indistinguishable afternoon, dust particles whirling across their faces as they listened to the rush of the wind and the faint susurrations of abyssal plastic bags. 

Jen pictured Ari and herself on the Mermaid, watching faded cylinders among faded ocean waves, and sighed. Soon, she knew, the cylinders, like the ocean itself, would be gone. 

This was a piece I wrote for the #PlanetOrPlastic competition on Wattpad last year or so. I didn't win, but I felt that this piece deserved to be revised and expanded on, so that's what I did here. :) 

Here's the original (https://www.wattpad.com/story/166101234-lost-oceans), if you'd like to read it! 

Message to Readers

Is there anything that's too vague or unclear? Confusing? Strange? Anything I can revise? Please let me know! :)


Peer Review

Your descriptions and imagery in the piece are very well-written! The way you describe the ocean and the landscape really helps the reader picture everything very well. The concept of a ruined, dystopian earth is also wonderful!


We get a nice glimpse into Jen's mind, as she imagines what the world used to be. Similarly, consider adding in Ari's thoughts. As someone who has never seen the seas or the world as it used to be, what does she think of as she looks at the landscape? Does she try to imagine what the seas looked like? Does she think of how it must've looked with greenery around? Adding in Ari's views could certainly benefit the story, especially as it is in the third person point of view.


Reviewer Comments

This is a wonderful piece and I'd love to read another draft if you write one. Do let me know if you have any questions! All the best with your writing :)