Why Was it Written : It was written for an Ocean Awareness contest ( From the Bow Seat Contest ) for the Prose Category. The contest just closed which is why I’m displaying the story to you guys. I will update this later with a result.
The Story :
My home was once full of color, the deep blue ocean surrounding my family and friends as we moved through the waters and weaved through the brightly colored coral of pink and reds and the green grasses that laid upon the ocean floor. However, that quickly changed and it was as if it happened within seconds but the effects continued on for much longer.
Something black one day entered the water, looking similar to squid’s ink but it was more foul smelling and everyone swam away as fast as possible as though our fins knew exactly what was happening even though we did not. The black ink seemed to kill everything that it touched as though it’s hands were wrapping around our family’s necks and strangling them to death. Nothing that touched the ink would be seen again.
The days following this event was heartbreaking as the ocean gathered in sorrow as everyone’s family was torn away from them as they helped each other search for their families. I remember explicitly this dolphin by the name of Rose looking for her husband. She frantically looked everywhere and I remember her screams and cries as she found his dead body, washing up to shore.
Rose died soon after as she attempted to reach her husband, though the oil was still in the way and soon, she just gave up and ran through the oil. We can only assumed she died in her desperate attempt to be with her husband. We were shocked at first, shocked that she would so desperately run through the oil, perfectly aware that she may not get to the other side but I think others who had lost their husbands understood at least a little bit. She wanted to be with her husband and dying would bring her to him.
Her sister, Belle, soon found out she was pregnant and what was supposed to be a joyous occasion was a tragic affair as she was worried about having a child in such living conditions and constantly worried about everyone’s life. Which may be why the birth of her child was stillborn. She was depressed for months following this event.
My shell was coated in black from trying to save the individuals from the ink but I made sure that it didn’t touch my skin. ‘I can change my shell,’ I would argue with my parents who steadily grew in concern as my shell’s green color was gone with the replacement of the black ink.
One life I remember trying to save was a jellyfish by the name of Oliver. He was swimming dreadfully close to the oil and ejecting something odd through the oil. I had immediately swam towards him but stopped in fear of touching the oil. “What are you doing?” I had called. Oliver ignored me at first as he continued and I glanced at the oil. It was as though whatever he was injecting was going through it. As though he was breaking it into tiny pieces. “Wha-What?” I had stammered out, confused as to what was happening.
“My papa noticed a little while ago.”
“What exactly is happening?” I had found myself asking, confused as the particles of oil was moving, very small but very there. I moved slightly closer to him but not close enough to touch. The purple colored jellyfish laughed in delight.
“It’s amazing right?” Oliver shouted in excitement as he swam into the oil before coming back out. “I can live in the oil, I’m not sure if it lasts long but for as long as I swim through the oil, it breaks away. I think it has something to do with how my tentacles move but I’m not quite sure. I would love to find out!” he explained excitedly.
Honestly, I thought it was rather odd at what was happening and he was mildly curious as to what exactly was happening. I thought about the event for a few nights following that conversation but I never seemed to have come up with a good answer. It wasn’t until I heard that there were fishermen who seemed to be gathering up jellyfish that I talked to Oliver again.
“They are coming!” He called excitedly. “They figured it out. They must have seen me or something! They saw me or something but I know it. They figured it out!” he called as he swam towards where they were fishing for jellyfish and I followed after him in curiosity.
“What are you doing? They are fishing for you guys!”
“They are trying to help us, we must let them. It’s in our fate to help. I want to help!” he shouted as he distanced himself from me towards the net that was picking up the jellyfish and within seconds, he was in the net. Shouting his goodbyes in happiness amongst the screaming for loved ones. (“How Jellyfish Break Down Oil After a Spill.” Smithsonian Ocean Portal.)
This continued for months and months, turmoil from the deadly ink continued on and on. Many dolphins continued having miscarriages and my shell was eventually ruined and my mother died, not noticing her skin touch the oil one day trying to help me find a new one. Death became a common thing in my world as so many continued fighting for their lives. Color was no longer a thing in my life and it seemed as though the ink ruined everything I loved. For those who didn’t die, they were mourning constantly over one death or another. The sister of Rose died from all the death and she just couldn’t fight any longer. ( “Gulf Oil Spill.” Smithsonian Ocean Portal.)
The ink we learned was called oil which was used for transportation of cars and apparently there was an oil spill though they were aware of what would happen. Anger continued on and on and there was an occasion after the stillborn where her husband began circling the people who were still trying to get more of the sludge in an attempt to scare them off. It worked for a day or two but they kept coming so he gave up. This anger was shared among everyone though and they even debating talking to sharks, hoping they would torture the murderers, knowing that even the sharks were affected by this.
We didn’t notice the humans attempts of fixing the mess they made immediately as our hatred began to grow greatly for them. We blamed them for their deaths, blamed them for ruining our homes as our vivacious pink coral was nothing but a pile of black ink. But soon we noticed them trying to scoop the sludge out. Eventually it began to work but only after we lost lives.
We even learned that this was not the first time this happened, there were so many other occasions of this! We were so shocked that this was not a first time experience yet humans still continued to mess up, killing our families and people. The seagulls spoke with some of the dolphins, explaining that they were finding three bodies a day on average of dolphins and that it had become national news of what happened. The dolphins demanded to know what they were going to do but the seagulls hadn’t heard anything.
We eventually moved away though the ink seemed to have continued a long way and it took many nights to maneuver, searching for colorful coral that was not ruined by the ink. During our journey, we ran into many other sufferers from the ink and they followed after us, ready to start a new home with us.
But something that we did appreciate, something we never knew would happen. Something good actually came from that oil that was emptied carelessly into our homes. It allowed us to enjoy the deep blue of the sea, the brightly colored orange coral, the greens and yellows of the fish around us, the moss color of my shell, the red that flowed from the shark’s mouth as it ate it’s newest victim. We began to understand and appreciate that we were all the same, that we were all affected by the same things. That we all had loved ones to lose, hated the same creatures. The oil created a sense of community amongst the heartache, among the death that we witnessed. But the memory of the oil continues in our mind on replay and it flashes through our minds every time we lose a loved one, every time a new family comes to tell of their sorrows, and every time the ink that comes from an octopus comes out and we freeze, anticipating the smell from that very day. Sometimes, I even think of Oliver, who sacrificed himself to help everyone and I wonder how exactly that was going on. Sometimes, I miss him even.
It had been long after the oil entering the world that we stopped seeing so many effects, sometimes others would come from other places in the world. Still crying over the many deaths of their families as they told us the terrible tragedy that always came along with the ink that was foul smelling. We warned our children of the terrors, wanting to make sure they never forgot what happened. We always allowed the newly- found homeless animals to enter our home, putting them under our fins as we let them establish a home of their own.
We had lost the concept of color for so long that when we saw a brightly colored orange coral, we froze in shock as memories of the past swam through our minds as we spent time with our beloved ones. I remember swimming as fast as my fins allowed as I surrounded the coral, swimming around the plant happily as I relished in the idea of life and happiness and love. My father followed after me and we played together for the first time in months. We smiled and we laughed and it was all because of the color. It was this place that we chose for our home to be. By the color that reminded us that we were alive and that we still had some family members even though we didn’t have them all.
My Reflection I Had to Write :
‘The Loss of Color’ was the first story I have ever written with animals as the main characters and as I kept fact checking and looking up information to make the story more accurate, I was amazed as to how many animals and creatures were affected by oil spills. I was amazed by how the animals involved in the spill were still going through things and dying because of something that happened around eight years ago. Something that I found interesting during my research, was the research of Brad Gemmell who theorized and proved that jellyfish were capable of breaking apart the oil because of the mucus in their bodies. When I read about that, I was excited to include this concept which is why one of the characters, Oliver the jellyfish, had figured this out and sacrificed himself in the name of saving everyone. Realistically, this is absolutely something that would happen in the real world and I thought it would make sense for the gesture to happen in the story. My main character, a turtle, was very unaffected by the whole ordeal besides seeing his family and friends die but despite this, turtles also were killed because of oil spills. I gave both Rose and Belle a part for similar reasons, to show that loss was detrimental and heartbreaking happened with Rose and finally with Belle who lost her child during the pregnancy, an event that occurred often with dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico.
My Thoughts of This Story : I actually adore this story, a story about loss of family in such a real way meant a lot to me and I had a lot of fun writing this story. I have no idea if I will win the contest but I am proud of the results. I will never regret this story and I will never forget it either.