“Lilith’s Quest,” by Sabrina Guo, 13, received an Honorable Mention in our Climate Change Podcast Contest. To read the transcript, visit the Stone Soup website.
Once upon a time, a young girl named Lilith lived in an igloo with her family, a pack of polar bears. She loved to wear her hair in braids and make her family icicle sculptures. She also loved to eavesdrop, and one morning, as she was hiding behind an igloo, she heard her pack leaders talking about the problems facing their pack.
“There isn’t enough fish to feed all of us–”
“Sooner or later–”
“Climate change will be the end of us–”
Crack. The ice under Lily’s feet creaked loudly.
“Lily, come out,” The pack leader said, sighing and shaking his white fur, golden from the sun. The girl stepped out, cheeks flushed from cold and embarrassment.
“This is none of your business,” he said, pointing back to Lily’s igloo.
She nodded meekly and headed home. She’d noticed that there hadn’t been any storytelling meetings or feasts with fish, and that the bears weren’t coming out of their igloos as much recently. She’d assumed that everyone was busy.
She wanted to help but she was so small. What change could she possibly accomplish? Maybe she could help her pack by asking for help. It was worth a shot. She bowed to the ground and sent a prayer to the arctic gods, wishing for her pack to be safe, as well as all other animals.
Just then, Lily heard a buzzing near her ear. She opened her eyes to see a tiny fairy with blue wings coated in light frost. Her hair looked like small tendrils of dust.
“I am Nina, the most powerful fairy in the arctic. How can I help you?” the fairy said.
Lily said immediately, “I want to get rid of climate change!”
Nina nodded, “You and everyone else. All the animals have petitioned to the arctic gods for their help. I have a list of their signatures, but I am missing one. I would get it myself but it’s not within my power to meddle in this. Humans have caused this issue; they must fix it.”
Lily’s eyes filled with hope. “I can get it!”
“It will be a tough journey. Many other animals have tried before. You’ll have to travel far over dangerous waters.”
“I’ll be okay!” Lily’s voice wavered but ended on a strong note. She would do anything for her family and the other animals.
“Okay. I need you to get the signature of Anika, an arctic fox. She’s always busy with her children and doesn’t interact much with the community, Also, because she doesn’t understand the science behind climate change, she’s not aware it’s a pressing issue. She lives at the very tip of that glacier,” Nina said and waved her wand. A magnified image of the glacier appeared between them.
Lily started to worry, “How will I get there?”
“In a boat,” the fairy said. A whirl of shimmering colors appeared and suddenly, a sailboat was docked at the water’s edge.
Lilly inhaled sharply. “Okay, I’ll leave now.”
Nina said, “The ice slab with the other signatures is in the boat.”
Lily nodded and ran to the boat. Luckily she knew some tricks about sailing.
She sailed for days through rough waters and winter storms. She passed icicle caves and glaciers, wolves and seals. She sailed as fast as she could to keep the precious ice slab from melting.
Finally Lily arrived at the glacier. She looked around, hoping a white fox could somehow stand out among the endless snow. Instead, she saw snowy owls searching for prey. She needed to hurry. She knew her pack must be worried about her. Then she saw fox footprints leading into a den. She slowly adventured in, hearing shouts and playful growls.
“Excuse me?” she whispered. She could hear fur rustling against fur. Two gleaming blue eyes appeared from the dark, and a white fox approached her, snarling. Lily stepped back.
“Are you Anika?” Lily asked.
“What do you want?” A husky voice asked curtly.
Suddenly, the sound of a stampede rung out, little paws running full speed. Lily knew that sound anywhere–the little cubs from the pack used to do during playtime. Lily stepped out of the den, out of the way. A blur of white fur poured out of the darkness of the den. Ten little foxes tackled each other. The mother followed, scolding her children for rushing out so fast.
“Could I please have your signature for–” Lily began.
“Max! Don’t hurt your brothers,” Anika interrupted.
Lily cleared her throat. “As I was saying, I need your signature–” The mother rushed over to her children and separated them.
“If you could come back tomorrow so I can sign the… uh… taxes, that’d be great—“
Lily spoke quickly, “I need your signature on the climate change petition. The ice is melting all around us, and it needs to stop or else I don’t know how we’ll survive!”
The fox blinked, then completely ignored her, but concern flashed over her face as her cubs started to venture into the water. “Hey!” She scolded, as they giggle and retreated back.
“Anika. All I need is a signature. Please, “ Lily begged.
“I know there was a community meeting about it where everyone signed a petition, but I was too busy to go. Is climate change that bad?” the fox finally answered casually.
“Yes! All the animals need your signature, “ Lily exclaimed.
Anika paused then said, “Come back tomorrow.”
“No! This is urgent!” Lily broke off an icicle from the den’s roof. “Here.”
Anika grumbled under her breath, but hastily picked up the icicle in her mouth, and signed the ice slab that held the other signatures. The tip of the icicle scraped against the ice.
“Thank you so much, Anika!’ Lily clapped her hands. She watched as the fox ran after her children, and then she hurried back to her boat, giddy and excited to share this great news with her pack.