Browsing pages

This “vision” is one of the 30+ that we’ll publish here in the next months. Most of them will go into Life Plus 2 Meters, Volume 2 (expected publication: Dec 2017). We hope that you will comment on the message, suggest ways to sharpen the narrative, and tell us how the story affects your understanding of adapting to climate change.

Most importantly, we hope that you enjoy reading these stories and share them with your friends and family. —David Zetland (editor) and the authors

I still keep an old paper that I have found in my childhood. Nowadays, it is a valuable item, after all. Not many newspapers are left, magazines with colourful photos are even more scarce. When people had to run away during The Dies Vagire, they tended to keep mementos of the past, solid things like books not the so soon outdated papers. After all, they talked about trifle matters, pleasantries, advertisements and pretty pictures. They had left behind the very thing that they cut our forest down. Isn’t it ironic?

I used to flip through pages and imagine myself in that life. I liked pictures the most. After Vagire the new government, The Greenest Party, did not allow to print such useless things any longer. It was a reasonable decision, since we did not have enough trees to sustain our basic needs, we did not have enough water nor electricity to waste it on pretty pictures. They banned many other things, as damaging to environment. Most people do not mind, too busy with surviving.

I would start with imaginary breakfast – a slice of bread with chocolate spread and hazelnuts. I always tried to imagine taste of it, but I have no idea whether I was right or wrong. We don’t use the white bread, tortillas are much easier and they require less heat and ingredients. The chocolate spread was banned anyway, not so long before all cocoa products were banned. It was easier than trying to force planters to stop cutting what was left from rainforests down, to stop overexploiting the soil. Palm oil was also banned, but it didn’t save the orangutans. It is funny – the same paper contained articles about damages to the world made by cocoa and palm oil and an ad for the product that used it in spades. There was also lot of sugar in it – now the sugar is in limited supply, for our health. I cannot even imagine indulging in it every day. The last ingredient, hazelnuts, are extinct. They disappeared almost unnoticed, when plants and animals were slowly moving towards poles, to escape the heat and unpredictable weather. Not all of them managed to survive that journey. There was also milk in that spread – but now it is a rare and expensive treat. We rarely eat meat or diary. Keeping stocks required too much water and crops to make it sustainable.

Then I would proceed to dress in imaginary dresses and shoes – but not with much enthusiasm. I failed to find what was attractive in delicate dresses that were colourful but didn’t shelter from gusts of wind or handbags must have been uncomfortable to wear, not to mention that you couldn’t stuff many items inside. What was the reason for wearing jackets that ended above one’s navel? What puzzled me the most were shoes – few straps on a high heel must have been everything but easy to walk in. Then I would remember, that they didn’t need to be as protected from weather as we are. They could be looked at, we must look out.

But my favourites were pictures of the last minute holiday destinations. I love the idea of calling it last minute, because even if they didn’t mean it, it was true. I looked at pictures of snow and skiing and skating on ice – water doesn’t freeze on its own any longer. I have seen ice, but the government disapproves of it – there is no need to use it for storing vegetables and creating and keeping it is a waste of our energy. The other direction of trips was to the seaside. Beaches covered with sand, blue sea, sun setting over the horizon – they are gone now. The beaches are covered in algae and poisonous jellyfish. The sea had also changed its colour to greenish. There are no fish there, suffocated by a layer of plankton and seaweeds that kept air and sun away from the deeper parts of the water. All that was alive in sea is now dead and rotting – at least that is what our seaside smells like. Only the sun is the same, possibly because it was too far away for us to contaminate it.

I have always skipped pages about green energy. It saddened me, how hopeful they were and how badly they failed. The solar panels could not survive hails and raising cloud coverage rendered them useless in colder regions and they were easily damaged by the scorching sun in the sunny parts of the world. The wind turbines could not keep up with hurricanes and tornadoes.

Now, when I browse the pages my attention is caught by one of the adverts that says ‘The future is now’. It is wrong, I think, we are past any future. The past is now and all we have left of it is not enough.

Anna Maria is a professional student with interests in various fields, ranging from language and linguistics, through literature, history, to art and biology. She wants to use her knowledge to write stories that are entertaining enough to be educating. Raised in a surprisingly green Silesia region (inside Polish borders) she hopes that greed will not prevail over reason.

3 thoughts on “Browsing pages”

  1. I really like how the story is completely devoid of such emotions as rage or even anger at the previous generations and just expresses this overwhelming disappointment at them having allowed this to happen. It is an interesting comment on our global society’s inability to agree on the simplest matters for the greater good; and this selfishness is subtly pointed out in people’s (that is *our*) everyday life, esp. its indulgence and thoughtlessness. And I love the how subversive the message of veganism is here: save the planet or else no meat or dairy for you, ever!
    Technical note: there are few sentences I don’t really understand; e.g. what is the meaning of ‘They had left behind the very thing that they cut our forest down.’? I feel like it’s missing a preposition. Also, I’d cut down the number of ‘banned’ in paragraph 2, three seems too many.
    But overall, it’s a great, thought provoking piece.

  2. I think the story has an interesting concept behind it. But it would benefit from some rewrites. I like the repetition of the word “banned” simply because it gives drama to the narration. However, spreading this word might improve the rhythm of the story. There are some linguistic mistakes which make the narration confusing at times e.g. “spade” instead of “spread” or the opening sentence. All in all, it is a good story.

  3. I wonder if the story would not actually benefit from a slight change of tone, from the didactic/ideological to more a emotionally charged one (anger, nostalgia, despair, etc). It would certainly help the reader get involved. Additionally, I find some problems in the perspective: for a narrator supposedly speaking from the future, they occasionally slip into a current perspective. For example, I don’t quite get why, if hazelnuts are extinct, the narrator imagines eating them with a nutella-like spread? Why even mention hazelnuts, if the generations contemporary to the story’s main time supposedly haven’t even known them? It’s not like they can miss hazelnuts, so it just seems a bit strange for me that the narrator makes this comment. This applies to some other parts of the story (e.g. “the sea had changed its color to greenish”). It sounds to me like a narrator today imagining a future world without hazelnuts, and not like an actual person from the future talking about the conditions of their world.
    There are some language issues that need fixing. Other than that, it’s a pretty interesting, if depressing, little story. It envisions scenarios and complex consequences I have never even considered before, so big thanks to the Author for making me think. I also like how the whole narrative begins with a piece of paper, now a treasured memento of a lost world, and develops from there quite consistently from paragraph to paragraph. Well done!

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