Fresh Air and Claudia Taire
Claudia Taire was strolling to nowhere in particular. She was a moody, serious girl who could be quite self-centered. As she was walking, she spotted something strange. A young woman with short hair and an interesting taste in fashion was exclaiming to passersby, “Do you like fresh air?” Claudia was often arrogantly nosy, so she marched straight up to the woman, planning to shut down whatever she was doing.
“You! stop that…thing!” Claudia snapped. The woman looked amused, which angered Claudia even more. “Do you like fresh air, angry girl?” The woman asked Claudia, direct. Claudia didn’t appreciate being called ‘angry girl’, but stayed silent, glowering at the strange woman. The young woman’s expression turned serious. “Look at this picture.” The woman pointed at an image that looked like a split-screen depiction of clean and dirty environments. Claudia looked, somehow feigning indifference and fury simultaneously. Others were watching, and listening now.
“This, ” said the woman passionately, “is what the environment looked like, a long while ago. And this,” here the woman pointed at the other side of the picture, “is what the environment looks like now.” Her expression shifted. “We can change this spiraling direction, though! There’s still so much possibility!” Claudia’s face softened, and the last of her anger melted. “It may seem like a silly question, girl, what I asked, but it’s not! How would the world be like if it were cleaner? In some parts of the world, air pollution is so terrible that people have to wear masks to stand the dirty air. Air pollution is a terrible thing, and you’ll think so too if you care even a little about the world.” She took a deep breath, seemingly hesitant.
“So, girl, do you like fresh air?”
Claudia paused, so immersed in what the woman was saying that she went blank for an instant. The large crowd around them seemed to hold their breath in unison, awaiting Claudia’s answer.
The woman smiled a ginormous smile, and Claudia smiled back. The crowd surrounding them clapped and cheered.
“Now we’re getting somewhere.”