Best Australian Yarn: Until it’s All Gone by Siena Southern Broadbent

Siena Southern BroadbentThe West Australian
Best Australian Yarn, Top 25 Youth 12-14, Until It's All Gone.
Camera IconBest Australian Yarn, Top 25 Youth 12-14, Until It's All Gone. Credit: Supplied.

AUSTRALIA WA, PERTH12/FEBRUARY/2068No one ever takes things seriously until it affects them. The society I now live in, the environment and the world. No one ever saw the beauty, until it was gone. People wanted more and more but didn’t think about the future generations. Not once did a thought of wanting future kids to survive came into their minds. It was all about getting more, having more but never losing more. The gas masks we breathe through, not knowing what the world used to be like. Hearing stories we long to be true. Outdoor air pollution is responsible for the top environmental deaths. I don’t want to keep burning and burning fossil fuels, ruining what we’ve been given. This has been said for years, no one ever listens. Well, I have said this for years. As a matter of a fact, air pollution isn’t responsible, we are.

You’re probably wondering who I am, what meaning do I have? I will be using my work name until I am comfortable enough to do otherwise. I’m worker 416, I burn fossil fuels and pollute the environment for your benefit. I do the dirty work. It only sounds bad when you say it out loud, yet still no one listened. I warned them with words and actions. “We have enough,” the response was, “We won’t have enough until the world has.” Actions like protests, shut down. They’re never going to listen. All lofty, elegant, buildings to conceal the truth. All the artificial intelligence to feed the people lies. The robots have a voice, but we don’t. On the news you see good news, after good news, but who takes the toll of the bad news, and the consequences.

Today we released carbon- dioxide out in dry land, where no one would see it. We travelled in the scorching heat, our fault. The people keep getting fed lies, like “everything is okay,” and “it’s not our fault!” But it is, we did this. We drove for around five hours, way out. Behind the fences, to hide the severity. They just couldn’t let the people see reality, because that’s wrong. The first containers came, release. Second ones, gone and so on until we had released it all. After that, we sat down for our lunch break, although no one ate. We couldn’t, knowing we’re killing our families, and their families to come, and so on, the guilt. But you know, “the earth hadn’t had enough.” We travelled home, stomachs rumbling and minds racing. Are our children safe? Are our wives healthy? Fear of the unknown, always existed.

I finally got home, knock on the door. KNOCK. KNOCK. KNOCK. Three distinctive knocks, so my wife had the reassurance that it was me. It felt like an eternity waiting outside, it was only really two minutes. I mean was it? At this point, I don’t know what I should believe after everything that has happened. I could hear her, pacing around in the house, reminding my daughter to pick up her toys. The sound of her voice put me at ease. It let me know she was safe. She opened the door, with that bright smile of hers, the type of smile that made you want to give her the world. Well what’s left of it. I never told her the truth about what we were doing to the planet, I couldn’t bear to see her hurt. She opened her arms and gave me an affectionate hug. Like clockwork, the message in my head. CLOSE THE DOOR. I turned around and shut the door, finally removing my gas mask and taking everything in. My daughter Esme was laughing, that was good. Safe. But Michael? I sighed as I remembered his condition. Unsafe. I travelled down the long, lonely hallway to the end room, Michaels. I slowly creaked open the door, to see Michael still. Asleep in bed, coughing, grasping onto his wrist. He once told me it put him at an ease from the pain, the pain of his sickness. Michael is a victim of air pollution. Just one day. ONE DAY. He didn’t wear his gas mask. He was sick and tired, just like everyone else of not truly experiencing the world. Wearing masks to and from school, stuck in a constant simulation on continuously repeating days, WEEKS, MONTHS, YEARS. So, one day, he didn’t. He had been in poor condition for weeks now, his lungs are too damaged, his body couldn’t take it anymore. The doctors say there’s no hope, that he wouldn’t make it. I lied. The knocking was for him. He could hear it, but he couldn’t say anything. He needed the warm feeling, Dad’s home. Even if that’s the only feeling he had.



Same thing today. Same thing for the past months. Except today, we released oil into the water. Well, what’s left of it. Lunch break, We couldn’t eat again but this time it’s not because of killing families, it’s because of the ones we’ve killed, guilty. If we had just stopped like I had begged them to months ago. The drive home was horrible, it’s getting hotter and hotter. The sweat dripping down our faces, our heads throbbing from the humidity. Not even the wind from the speed of the car was helping. But our feelings are the least of our problems. I walked up to the front door longing for the feeling I felt months ago, checking if my all children are safe, if my wife is healthy. But there was no need to knock anymore because now Michael couldn’t even hear it. Dad was home, but he wasn’t.

This world is a cruel place, you wake up, work, come home, sleep, WAKE UP, WORK, COME HOME, SLEEP. Until you can’t. No one ever takes deaths seriously, until it affects them. No one ever cares, unless it’s for them. No one ever sees the beauty, until it’s all dead.

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