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Dusty Withering continued


            Her skin is fading. I don’t quite understand how or why, yet each time she comes to me in tears and I wipe them away, a little dust comes off with it. I don’t want to ask her why or how. Not because I know we both don’t have an answer, yet also because I don’t want to cause her that stress or confusion of not being able to quite understand either. Because her skin is so rare, I cannot even begin to predict that the scientists will understand. I am at a crossroads as her mother and caretaker. If I report the new traces of dust on the floor when she walks, I am afraid that the scientists will pull her in for more and more tests. I can’t tell if she enjoys the life away from the research center. Of course, the world is so much bigger than she has even imagined and nothing can be better than the opportunity to explore everything that you have heard about for years.

However, she hasn’t met very many friends. Kids leave the building walking hand in hand or rushing home to play, yet Olivia wanders out much later than the rest, and much lonelier. As a parent, I can’t help but worry about her social life as much as I try to give her the space to learn and grow as her own self. Her difference in morals and understanding of the world already separates her from the rest of those children, but I still wish for her to be included. I might mention the unusual dust particles falling from her skin to the scientists and doctors tomorrow during her weekly check-in. I am hesitant to ask her counselor about the impact the isolation will have on her long term and what’s the best way to prevent the negatives from heavily influencing her growth.



            We didn’t realize the mistakes we were making until they were already made. The earth is dying and there is no way to combat its interior destruction. Of course, we were aware of climate change and global warming and our carbon footprint and everything else people advocate for. How could we miss this? Our world is on the brink of exploding from freezing and we didn’t even notice! It began as a pollution problem. Trash was affecting the earth because it was affecting the people that lived there and we just didn’t want to deal with the garbage. However, we didn’t realize that the garbage placed in landfills was releasing chemicals that seeped into the earth’s interior and decreased the global temperature by 20 degrees. This decreased temperature killed millions of essential animals and organisms that kept our food chain and ecosystems intact. Our most logical advancement from here would be to increase the earth’s temperature, yet we don’t know how to make that drastic change. If it isn’t possible to change earth as a whole, including the idea that trash is inevitable and will be produced for us to live, then our only option is to learn to survive in these newer conditions. It isn’t very easy to adapt to the complete weather change due to the effect the cold temperatures have on our bloodstream. The change in degrees causes the freezing temperatures to literally freeze human’s blood little by little. Unfortunately, we have absolutely no way to warm each human’s bloodstream at a constant rate to keep them alive. To find an answer to the survival of the human race, we scanned every blood type and hospital record in the past fifteen years.

​The first time we tested Mary’s extraneous child, her blood type tested much differently than any other average human result. With Olivia’s blood registered as a class of blood that we had never come in contact with before. We labeled it “type Z” and came to a further conclusion that her dust like skin needed a warmer body temperature to keep it intact and properly functioning. Our recent complications regarding the temperature of the earth declining to an exterminating level may be completely abolished if we distribute part of Olivia’s blood to the rest of the world.




            Each time an acquaintance of mine speaks words of hurt or sadness, I feel my chest cave in and tears welling up. This reaction is esily paralleled to everyone else’s reaction when they are excluded asolated. However, I begin to feel a different sensation that burns throughout my body. I become overcome with heat to the point where the top layer of my skin slowly brushes off. Each word they speak or type that is directed at my differences, I begin to wither away. At first, it wasn’t noticeable. Just a few grains of sand every once in awhile I got humiliated in class. Now, pools of dust float to the ground beneath me as I leave trails of my skin with their hurtful words haunting me each step. Each day I wither, I begin to wonder what happens next. Do I learn to not let them get to me? Or do I have no option but to fade away until there is nothing left for me to do or say.


            The fate of the world has been decided. There is no way for us to combat these falling temperatures of the earth’s interior. We did our best to retrieve Olivia’s blood, but by the time we attempted to collect it, she had been found asleep. The asleep where she would never wake up no matter how hard we tried. She died from skin deterioration. Her mother claims her dust-like skin particles fell each time another human mistreated her as a science experiment using her solely for research and to further human life. Though this may be an influential part in her death, NASA doesn’t believe people’s words could have any correlation to the crumbling of skin fragments. Due to her death, there is no possible way for the earth’s temperature to be increased or for human’s body to scientifically adapt to the freezing temperatures. Her preservation from mars was a complete waste in science and futuristic research. Her existence served one purpose, and her classmates failed to allow that purpose to be fulfilled resulting in a complete waste.


            Olivia’s life may have not been as influential to the earth’s research as NASA would have liked, but her life still gained complete purpose. She taught this whole world a valuable lesson of how kind words can go a long way. She was different and isolated, but that doesn’t mean she was allowed to be treated as a useless science experiment. We acted immoral, unkind, and unwelcoming, and that led to our own devastation.

Maddie Woda is an undergraduate student at Columbia University, majoring in English and American Studies. She is a board member of the Columbia Review and is currently working on her first novel.

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