It is just another normal day in the year 2040, when the little girl hears her mother calling to her. "I'm coming, Mommy," she yells as she drops her rag doll.
"Darling," her mother tells her, "please take out the trash."
She sighs and gets dressed up in a heavy plastic suit complete with a gas mask. She takes the bags of trash outside, fighting her way through vermin to dispose of the bags in her back yard. The yard is already filled to its capacity, but there is no- where else to put the garbage since all the landfills closed decades ago and the bodies of water are filled with harmful pollutants.
When she gets back in the house, the little girl asks her mother if they can get outside of the house for a change and go somewhere.
Her mother says, "I wish we could, but there is nowhere to go. Anywhere we go, we would have to wear a bulletproof vest, an oxygen mask and a protective suit. Even if we could go somewhere, all we would see is housing. Why don't I just tell you a story."
"Okay, tell me a fairy tale."
"This is a good one I remember my father telling me when I was your age. It's about a beautiful world where beautiful animals lived."
"What's an animal?" her daughter wants to know.
"They were innocent creatures who used to have fun all day until humans invaded their territory. Well, animals would frolic all day and no one had to worry about having clean water or eating good food. Trees grew and bore fruit and provided shade. Temperatures weren't too hot. Snow would fall, with which children could build white, frozen castles and snowmen. No one had any worries. The end."
To the little girl, it was just a story. She had never known what snow was or what it was like to go to a zoo and see animals. Had people known what kind of world they were going to leave fifty years ago, maybe they would have done something. Now it was too late. n
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.