A whisper blew through the bare trees as a foggy, lonely mist settled around the forest. Small creaks and hollow moans echoed across the empty playground as the breeze drifted by. A summer taste lingered in the sky, contrasting the cold sweat the mist left behind.
Whirrrrr. A small robot rolled into view, clean and white. Little lime and cyan lights flashed on its body as it traveled around the rusted, brittle metal playground equipment.
“Rover!” called a young voice. A girl came running after the robot, wild black hair rustling in the wind. A blush crept over her ears, cheeks, and nose, bringing out her pale complexion.
The girl stopped short, glancing around the clearing. Her eyes widened.
“Rover! Avoid the metal!” She pulled her shirt up to her nose to prevent inhalation. Cautiously, she approached the slide.
Remnants of red paint hung from the rusted metal, clinging for dear life. The metal was all bent, and though the metal must have been smooth before, it was all rough now.
“Detecting uranium,” said the robot. “117 years.”
The girl shook her head in dismay. How would she search in this contaminated place?
Closing her eyes, she envisioned a little boy sliding down the polished red slide, squealing with laughter. A little girl, straining from the effort, would be hanging from the sturdy blue bars. And a little babbling baby with a cute pink dress, pushed by her tired but happy mother, would be on the creaky swing. A few kids by the colorful swinging horses mimicking neighs and shouting cowboy phrases as they rocked back and forth, and there’d be some older kids digging in the dirt, getting it all over their fingers and pants.
All these people would be spending time in this playground. But they can’t anymore. Sighing, she turned back around, pulling her shirt back down.
“Rover! Let’s go! It’s not here.” With that, the girl began walking to where she came from, with the little robot following closely at her heels.