When The Grass Was Green
Esther Brown, Illawarra Christian School
The grass is green, greener than ever, in fact. It is soft and springs back at the touch. A cool breeze blows, whispering in and out of the leafy canopy above. The sun shines through the treetops, creating dappled patches of light on the stage where the kaleidoscope of flowers dance a perfected waltz, keeping in time with the tune of the wind. They dance along the shore of the sparkling crystal lake, swirling heads of colour against clear water. Swans cut through the glassy surface, gliding along like professional ice skaters on a frozen lake. The sky is as blue as forget-me-nots, its cotton-wool clouds reflected in the still waters. This is how it used to be, before the lake dried up.
I wake up to a stuffy oven of a bedroom. The air con blares ineffectively, only breaking the silence of the morning. I sit up and glance at my watch. Its hands glare at me like an angry Aunt: 5 am. I flop back onto my bed and stare at the ceiling, at the spot where the paint has peeled off in tiny flakes. Through the dust-frosted windowpane I can make out the blurry red horizon line. The giant fireball is peering over it, eyes red with murderous hatred. The air is already so hot. Whenever I breathe in it feels like there is a fire burning inside me.
I pull myself out of bed and trudge to the front door, grabbing a large tin bucket off the shelf on my way. I can feel the heat even through my sandals as I walk out over what was once a lush green field. The heat radiates off the earth, creating an outdoor sauna. Deep cracks and crevices are etched into the ground as far as the eyes can see, like a patchwork of scars on the Earth’s face, each one holding a special memory of the way things used to be.
I stare up at the sky. Not a cloud in sight. Just a washed-out blue, faded by the scorching sunlight, like a towel hung out on a washing line for too long. I remember the last time it rained. I was splashing through mud puddles on my way to school, everything around me so alive, so vibrant and green, but I was complaining because my hair got wet. Now I know better.
The dark hole seems to go on forever, but eventually I hear the faintest splash. I reel up the bucket. It is only half full, barely enough to sustain me for the day, let alone the whole family. The only way we can get water these days is from underground. We haven’t had rain for one year now. It’s amazing we’ve survived so long in this place, where the fire burns all day and the heat never leaves, not even at the darkest point of midnight. I can only hold onto that small sliver of hope that one day it will rain again.