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When will our world go back to normal?” the narrator wondered, as smoke blanketed the California sky during the pandemic

I knew something was wrong when I saw bright orange light peeking through the cracks in my blinds. Quietly, I slipped out of bed and opened one shutter. What I saw was appalling: a yucky yellow hue tainting everything outside.

The world outside is cloaked in a haze, yellowish-orange in color. The sun is completely obscured by the thick substance, giving off minimal light and making our whole world dimmer than normal.

Looking Up

I’d heard stories from my classmates about the yellow sky that was outside their homes, with a bright orange sun suspended in it. One of my best friends, with whom I had a Google Doc in the times of quarantine, put a photo there of the exact thing that my classmates were describing. It can’t be true, I thought. These fires are so far away—how can the smoke drift all the way over here? And obscure the sun? Impossible. And then it happened to us.

It’s a little bit past noon now. The sky has passed its yellow phase—now it’s a deep orange, the color of a ripe pumpkin. It’s as if giant streetlights are shining on us from the sky, flooding California in amber light.

It’s actually not all smoke. There’s some fog too. But the smoke is high up and is ultimately what is covering the sun, filtering out all but the orange light.

The mountains, usually so proud and defined, have blurred and softened edges. Their color is unclear, a hazy greenish-gray. Through the orange sky, sweeps of gray smoke smudge it.

Our hummingbirds are going crazy. Just today, they’ve drunk at least two feeders’ worth of sugar water. Maybe more. While normally we would be able to see their beautiful red throats and iridescent green backs, now they are simply dark silhouettes flitting in and out of the eaves of our deck.

As I stare out the window at the pumpkin-colored expanse outside, I wonder the same something that I’ve wondered for a while now: when will our world go back to normal?

Please let it be soon, I think, and go back to staring at the surreal orange sky.

Raya Ilieva
Raya Ilieva, 10
Belmont, CA

Anna Weinberg, 11
Washington, DC