Young Writers Project

My hands brush against the dead grass, something once so green now unrecognizable. The sky is black with smoke, though there are no clouds. I pull up my mask slightly, trying to stop ash from getting inside. We use masks for more than one reason now.

I look up, trying to spot the once-bright sun up in the sky. It is small, a pinpoint of brightness. I don't have to shield my eyes to look at it anymore, as it is but a fraction of what it once was.

I stand, trying to act brave. My final day on Earth will be a good one. I start walking along the sidewalk, looking at things that once were beautiful but are now only a small bit of what they were before. Green is a rare sight to see normally, but I know just the place. I pass a clump of bare spots in the grass – once trees, cut down. Then tree stumps, rooted out for more wood. Now bare spots in the grass reminding us of our broken past.

I climb over a rock and shuffle below thorny bushes that again lead toward the woods that once were. Now it is a tall bramble of thorny bushes, no longer growing berries. No one dares come over here. Few people even come outside anymore, but I do anyway.

I push back a thick clump of thorns, revealing a tall oak with short branches. You can’t see it from the outside, which is good. I smile, because this is one of the few trees left, probably the only one with leaves. I inhale the beautiful scent, taking in the fresh air…

Excerpted from original. Read complete story at:

Ruth Knox, 11, Essex Junction

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