Isabella’s Climate Story


Isabella Smith-Santos


Philadelphia, PA, United States

How are you sensing climate change?

Smoke wafted through the misty morning as I shivered. The morning wind nipped at my bare toes, causing me to quickly tuck them up underneath me. I could feel the grooves of the wood-threaded chairs press into my skin. My grandma, my Nanny, continued to draw long, hard puffs from the lit cigarette. Rosy-cheeked and drowsy from the early morning, I started ahead towards the empty pavement.
In the bare spot of missing cement, sat dusty dirt and lanky weeds. Once there was a tall oak in its place. We used to buy stick in eyes and noses, and drill it into the tree, giving it a goofy expression. Now the only thing silly was the number of cigarettes littering the ground. And the statistics of a little girl getting lung disease from secondhand smoke. But those were truly my time pockets with her. Me in my Walmart Fruit-Loop pajamas, and my Nanny with her 20-pack.
We’d watch the 73 bus trudge down the one-way street. Briefly sitting outside the Rite Aid. The morning shutters guarded it like a metal coat. Cars would cruise along with poisonous exhaust wafting out of the back. Painting the sky with a sinister glaze. Yet it was still a peaceful silence. Sometimes rain would spit from the sky and shower the neighborhood. My nanny would throw her cigarette, close her eyes, and breathe in the blissful morning.
The last time I saw her this relaxed was at her funeral. I remember the metal chair beneath me. Not loving like the weathered porch chairs. Not loving or caring or intimate at all. Her son—my uncle who she would exchange bitter words with—was now weeping at the front, claiming his strong connection to his mother. I didn’t bother calling his bluff. She loved everyone, but I knew the reason why she would buy Newports and share those dawns with me.
Her absence isn’t the only thing that’s gone. A bitter dawn or the light drizzle that followed is now almost impossible to predict. I now wake up with my clothes clinging to my skin from the sweat of blistering mornings.
Today people speak loudly of the events of my days past. They chant in foam-covered microphones about the loss of rain. The toxic steam constantly fills the sky. The amount of Newport boxes clogging the sewage system is almost as prevalent as weeds on the ground.
It’s not that we don’t know the harm of our habits. We only know what can help rid us of the past. And some of us would rather forget than forge a better future. We resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms and remove more great oaks for our own “wellbeing”. It never makes us better in the long run.
We can forgive and simply fold away the memories that made us. Or we can use our mistakes and clean the air of its smoky waste. We don’t have to let those who speak for us lie and not do anything for our weekend mornings. We can return to what the past was somewhat. We have little time as humans, but our world has more.

How do these changes make you feel?

Sometimes we are aware of climate change and we still ignore it as we are used to the life we have. The change in weather also affects us greatly as it’s sometimes hard to predict anything. If we start now and work on preventing climate change, we have a chance, but we need to act soon and quickly.

Deveena’s Story #2

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Deveena’s Story #1

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Gabrielle’s Story #2

Over the past few years, I have been experiencing and noticing the appearance of climate change.

Gabrielle’s Story #1

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Drake’s Story

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Jack’s Story

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Praveen’s Story

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Owen’s Story

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Priyanka’s Story

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