The Story of Gaia Sky
By Nicki, age 12, Indiana, USA
Eight-year old Gaia Sky pressed her nose against the windowpane. She looked across the ocean shore and squinted. She could see Titep, the man-made island. Her mother always told her about how they built the island in the year 2003. It was built for the growing population of New Orleans. Other islands had been made for New York and for a few more major coastline cities of the US. Gaia slumped back onto the window seat and crossed her arms in disgust. "Stupid place with too much concrete, " she mumbled. Gaia closed her eyes and thought about her grandmother's woods. How the sweet birds sang, and how the wolves howled and owls hooted at night.
"Mother, when can we visit Grandma again? It seems like the last time we went there was eons ago, " she asked.
"Oh my impatient Gaia, " widow Sky replied, laughing a sad laugh and shaking her head. She jerked her head up and walked to her daughter. She lay a hand on her cheek. "Maybe that is a good idea Gaia. Now with your father gone, grandma is probably very lonely. Without having you, I could probably not get through your father's death. Grandma needs family around her too. If we spend a week or two in the woods, it might get our minds off things. Not to say it would probably cheer us up. And besides, the sea levels are getting very high. It's about time we move inland. I wish those ice caps would stop melting. "
"I have summer vacation coming in a week, we can go then, " the girl said. "Although, it won't be the same without dad. " A tear rolled onto Gaia's cheek. She wiped it off with her sleeve and sniffled. "I never thought I'd say this, but I miss dad's nagging about paying attention to the ozone action days and putting on sunscreen. "
"That problem is easily solved, " widow Sky replied. "I'll take your father's place in that. "
"Darn it. Why did I ever say that? " Gaia said madly, crossing her arms. "I always hated that. "
"Then why did you say you miss it? "
"Can we look in your photo album, or maybe at your home movies from when you were a girl? "
"I'll tell you how it used to be around here. "
"Huh, what do you mean? " Gaia said.
Mrs. Sky took her young daughter's hand and led her back to the window seat. She pointed out where she used to see whales and dolphins. (They were now very rare. ) She told her daughter how the moon used to shine through her window before the smog and light pollution blocked the view. (Gaia had only seen the moon and stars at her grandma's place. ) She told about how she had seen a shark in its natural habitat. (Gaia had only seen one in the aquarium down town. ) "So this Earth used to be beautiful. " Gaia said.
- - -
The day they were supposed to go to Gaia's grandmother, Gaia's mother suddenly made a change of plans. When Gaia woke up, she didn't smell the aroma of coffee or smell of scrambled eggs. Instead, all she heard was the buzzing of cars on the road and the normal bustle of the city. She suddenly sat straight as a pin.
"Something is wrong, " she said to herself. "Mother always wakes up early. "
She ran out of her room. When she turned the corner to the living room, she heard a laugh, a laugh she had never heard before. Gaia stuck out her front lip. "Thieves! " she thought. The over confidant eight year old turned the corner. She saw no thieves. A strange teen-age girl was sitting on their couch watching TV. "Who are you? " Gaia demanded. The girl was startled.
"Don't speak to me that way. I'm your baby sitter. "
"Why did my mom want to go away without even telling me? "
"She said she'd be back before you wake up. She also told me all the rules so don't test yourself. " The sitter said waving her long slender finger at Gaia. Gaia clenched her fists. She wasn't used to being spoken to this way.
"Why couldn't she just get one of those new kid-sitting robots you get at radio shack? It is 2023 after all. And don't say you're my baby-sitter! I prefer to use the word kid-sitter. I'm not a baby"
"Well, you surely act like one, " the teen girl said, throwing her head back and snorting.
"You must be a descendent of a pig, because you surely laugh like one, " Gaia snipped back at her.
"I'll get it! Hello. "
"Gaia, you are all right, thank heavens. "
"Yes mother, where are you? I woke up and..."
"I know sweet heart. I know. I want you to come to me. I'm sending a cab over to pick you up. The cab driver will tell you what to do. When he comes, pay your sitter. We owe her ten dollars. Make sure she doesn't trick you into paying her more. She knows how to negotiate very well. "
"I won't let her trick me into paying more. But mother, where are you? I'm so worried. "
"Gaia, simply do as I say. And do it quickly. " Then her mother hung up.
- - -
Gaia entered the hospital. She took the anti-gravity elevator to the fifth floor as the cab driver had instructed her to do. She froze when she saw what part of the hospital she had entered. There, in bold golden letters, were the words CANCER CENTER. She let her ears listen for her mother's name. She waited. Nobody came for her. She listened in at a conversation that some doctors were having.
"The patient in room ninety has stage three skin cancer. She's not expected to live more than a few months. She is receiving chemotherapy now. "
"Doctor Fayron, are you talking about Brittany Sky? "
"Yes. Her name is Brittany Sky. "
"Nooooo! " Gaia let out a piercing scream and ran out of the waiting room into the hall. The doctors ran after her. Gaia managed to get as far as the elevator. She clawed at the door and screamed. "Mother, Mother! Motherrrrrr. "
- - -
An old gray woman sat looking wearily into the distance. She stroked the brown curly hair of the sobbing child on her lap. The young girl clenched her fists like she wanted to fight someone.
"Mrs. Sky? " The old woman looked up. A doctor stood over her.
"Brittany is ready to see you now. "
"Come Gaia, " sighed the old woman. The girl looked up. Tears from her wet eyes glistened like the sky. Her face was red from crying, as red as the color of Mars.
"Can we finally go grandma? "
With a sad smile, the old woman took the young girl's hand. They walked to the place the doctor had directed them to go to. A pale woman was lying in a bed in between white sheets.
"Mother! " said the girl when she saw the woman.
"Gaia, Gaia my only child. "
"Mother, how long? "
"What do you mean Gaia? "
"How long do you still have to live? "
The woman stopped hugging the child. "Gaia, we're going to make the best of the time I still do have to live. Your grandmother and I have already agreed that we're going to spend a lot of time in your grandmother's woods. Like your father did before he died. "
- - -
A girl ran out of a small house. She was bare footed. She wore a short and soft dress. It was the only type of dress the child would wear.
"Come on mom. " She shouted into the house. "I want to get to the creek before the sun gets too hot. "
"Oh, my impatient Gaia. " A woman came out of the house. "I had to find the photo camera. "
Gaia and her mother saw hawks, deer, turtles, and even a fox! When they came to the stream they went fishing. The stream that went through her grandma's woods was one of the least polluted streams it the whole eastern part of the country. Her grandma lived in the eastern woods of Maine. Gaia and her mother always loved to play a game of "Kiss the Fish." The first person to catch a fish had to kiss it.
Gaia caught the first fish. It was a small one, not big enough to eat. After fishing under the morning sun for hours, mother caught a fish. It was the biggest one Gaia had ever seen! It was the length of mother's fingertip to her elbow!
"Well I don't know about you Gaia, " mother said, "but I think we're going to have fish for dinner tonight. "
Gaia smiled. Even though her mother had cancer, she still had kept her jokes.
"Yes mother, I agree. "
"Why do we have to go back to New Orleans? " Gaia whined. I'd much rather stay here. "
"Gaia we live there. And I have to work. I also have to sign some papers concerning you. " Gaia knew what papers those were. Those papers would decide where she would go when her mother died. She had always known that she would stay at her grandma's place.
"Why do you have to work mother? You're sick. "
"I have to pay the bills Gaia. "
"Can mow people's lawns. Then you pay the bills with that money. " Mrs. Sky bent down and patted her daughter's long hair.
"I wish it was that simple Gaia. I wish it was that simple. " - - -
Gaia looked at a picture in her hand. It was of her and her mother. A tear rolled down her cheek. She sat on her luggage. Any moment now her grandmother would come and pick her up. Gaia went upstairs to the window seat. "Stupid past. " She mumbled. "Why couldn't people take care of the ozone layer. If they did, I wouldn't be a orphan. " A thought came to her. "Am I destined to die of cancer? The only people in my family that are still alive are Grandma and I. " She sobbed bitterly. A hand it turned her around. It was grandma.
"Are you all right child? "
"I will be, I will be... I hope. "
Author's note: Most scientists agree that if nothing is done, the ozone layer will become dangerously thin. Already there is a large hole in the ozone layer covering the South Pole. Ozone protects earth's surface from the sun's UV waves. UV waves are proven to cause cancer. Global warming has already begun to melt Earth's ice caps. Major coastline cities like New Orleans and New York will have to spend billions of dollars in flood control. The burning of fossil fuels has already done a substantial amount of damage. Cutting down large forests such as the Amazon rain forest lets the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere rise. If nothing is done, there will be nothing left on this earth. Please be more aware of how to prevent our fragile environment to recover from the damage that we have done. Please help poor Gaia, who could be my future child or your future grandchild, from man inflicted misery now that we can still try to turn the tide.
Copyright © November 2000 Kids on the Net and Nicki