United Arab Emirates

Heyo! I’m Lauren, a high school sophomore who loves reading too many fantasy novel series, listening to music, and eating a probably unhealthy amount of ice cream.

Message to Readers

Is there anything I can revise or improve? Please let me know, I really appreciate it ^-^

Lost Oceans

December 12, 2020


Like ghostly white phantoms, two figures emerged from the battered metal hatch and stumbled out into the whirling, eternal sandstorm. White melted into indiscernible orange, and they slammed the circular door behind them.

The ventilator suit was still too big for Ari, the littler of the figures, and it sagged somewhat on her bony frame. The suits were made of a rubbery synthetic material and equipped with two oxygen tanks—enough for a journey like this one. When clean, they looked like the clouds her grandmother Jen remembered, the ones that used to float in the sky, pure puffs of air. Outside, they were blanketed in an instant orange torrent. In this world, there were no clouds, nor any bit of blue. In this world, dust—hot, gritty, bitter, and dull—covered everything.

A steady trickle of sand was dripping through the gaps, sending a scorching tangle of flames to tickle her arms and legs. The suit’s filtering system was getting old—meaning that with every whirl of dust, a robust rattling noise beset her small ears, and a little more sand choked up her dry throat. Her eyes burned and watered ceaselessly, but she trudged on, mustering up words to fill the endless silence.

"What were oceans like?" asked Ari, tugging on the gloved hand beside her head.

They were stumbling up a steep incline, when Ari spouted out her question. She windmilled her arms wildly as her dust-filled boots sought purchase on the sandy gravel.

The other phantom stopped abruptly, and the masked head craned downwards.

              “What did you say, darling?”

Ari went up on tip-toes and put her own masked head close.

              “I said, Grammy, what were oceans like?”

Jen 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 memories, and allowed herself to murmur 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 abandoned canyon was all that was left of the Atlantic Ocean. At least, what it used to be.

It was almost funny to Jen, how such a colossal expanse could be erased within her lifetime—choked up, suffocated beneath a CO2-exploded atmosphere. 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.

The image, however, was only superficially wonderful. Beneath the overlying colors, a curdled blankness twisted painfully. Like the watery world they swam in, the dolphins were blurred and 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.

Such is the passage of memories. Unrenewed, never revisited, they fade—the acid of forgetting slowly eating away their edges and corners, their cores and centers.

In Jen's mind, the imagined taste of salt turned to dust on her 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.

Ari wanted to go home. Though precocious for her age, she was only six, and she was tired and thirsty and hungry and bored. She didn't understand why her grandmother insisted on visiting this barren canyon, where it was hot, dry, and dusty. Ari poked out a smiley face in the dust and erased it with a swipe of her glove. Pouting behind her mask, she thought of their air-conditioned bunker, with its funny ground-water faucets and castles of canned food. There, she had a small sandbox. The sand in it wasn't boringly orange, but her favorite color—pink—and it certainly didn't have bits of rocks and glass and things that looked disturbingly like the bones in her science book.

Ari opened her mouth again—

            "Grammy, can we go home? I wanna play in my sandbox.”

A pause.

              “And I want tomato soup.”

Jen turned her head to look at the small girl and smiled faintly behind her mask.

             "Just a little while longer, darling."     
And so 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 waves, and sighed. The ground water supplies were dwindling, and the stale canned food they had left would soon run out. Already, she could see the angry fires in the distance, ignited by the withered wicks of dead plant matter and human stupidity.

She thought of the Crickets—as the last of humankind jokingly called themselves, because all of humanity's noise had long disappeared. They were a hodge-podge bunch, armed with nothing but the last rags of their pride and the last rags of their hope. She thought of her daughter Celia, with her long blonde hair and her big bright smile, and she thought of her granddaughter Arianna, with her wide eyes and open heart, and she thought of herself, frail and gray-haired, with nothing left but nostalgic reminiscences on what the world once was.

Soon, she knew, everything, like the ocean itself, would be gone.
Woo, sixth and final revision! :3

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