It was the middle of winter. The air was humid and weighed heavily on Jaz’s shoulders. Jaz’s thick hair acted as an incubator for the heat. The sweat dripped from her forehead, often briefly greeting her slightly bushy eyebrows – before it was soon swept away.
She walked aimlessly, as she did often. The leaves behind her began rustling, aggressively, as if to beg Jaz for water. Jaz didn’t have any water, but if she did – it was her nature that she would have listened to the trees.
Walking past a shop, she was drawn to the several box televisions behind a glass window; all with the same channel on. Old Bee’s, on 52 Avenue Street, was famous for being stuck in the 70s. Jaz watched as the screens briefly buffered, a news broadcast suddenly appeared. The president, Donald Trump, was thanking the world for Global Warming – “God Bless America. Our summers are warmer. Our winters are warmer. Nicer weather for everyone!”. There was some truth in those statements which echoed from the various screens. Jaz acknowledged that the winter was warmer, so warm in fact the trees had been starved of water. Jaz had been starved of her childhood and most importantly, there was nothing that anyone could do about it. After countless nights in her room, plotting and scheming how to reverse the damage; Jaz too accepted that even this was beyond her fiery nature.
As Jaz continued down Avenue Street, she strolled past her childhood; Or what was left of it. Other children didn’t play outside anymore, the government had warned that rising pollution levels weren’t safe to breathe in. Children played inside, like animals in a cage – longing to leave. Not knowing that if they breathed in this air, their lungs would become so polluted, that not even a miracle could save them from imminent death.
Posters of Greta Thunberg littered the streets, the irony of this was never lost on Jaz. One of these posters, hanging from what was once a child’s swing set or so Jaz would like to imagine it was, read– ‘We should have fucking listened to her’.
The sweltering heat now became too intense for even Jaz to ignore. Her footsteps began to slow and sweat was now falling from her face, as if to mock the sky. The nearest water pump was still three streets away and with every step Jaz felt further away. Knowing she was never meant to take her mask off, she had no other choice but to reach into her bag and put it on. There was something endearing about wanting to believe everything was as normal, when it hadn’t been normal for years now. Mask on, Jaz’s lungs wheezed – as if to thank her for doing this. She approached the water pump and began to pump water into a square bucket. A loud scream interrupted Jaz’s peaceful hum, that sent chills to the core of her being.
The rain had started.
Jaz dropped everything, zipped up her jacket and threw her hood over her face. She ran, not a run that had ever been seen in an Olympics finale, it wasn’t a matter of whether she could run fast enough; it was if she would reach home in time. Acid rain, it was named. Known to burn your skin, causing a pain not even lucifer could conjure up. Jaz ran down Avenue Street while the rain ripped through her clothes, knowing if she was ever to make it home; she would no longer wish to go outside again. A scenario that had not crossed her mind till this very moment. Even a simple cup of water Jaz longed for, it wasn’t that the glass was half empty; the glass was completely empty.
So, while the rain pierced her clothes and stung her skin, she stopped running – walked into the middle of the road and sat down.
Image credits: Florian Olivo – https://unsplash.com/photos/Ft8VjhRhR24