the Vanishing Sea

a short story about water shortages for middle school students

Aila lived in a small village near the Aral Sea in Uzbekistan. She often gazed out at the vast lake and dreamed of one day sailing across its sparkling blue waters. 

On Aila's 12th birthday, her grandfather gave her an old sailing medallion. "This has been passed down through our family for generations. Legend says it came from a magical sailor who could travel through time," he explained. 


That night, Ailaclasped the medallion and made a wish to see the Aral Sea in its full glory. Suddenly, she was transported back to 1960! The Aral Sea spread out before her, huge and beautiful. Sailboats glided calmly across its waves. She saw fishers hauling up overflowing nets of fresh catch.


"How did the sea get so small in my time?" Aila wondered. Curious, she turned the medallion and traveled ahead in time to 2000. She gasped as the sea had shrunk to half its size, the southern portion now completely dried up.

Aila visited a nearby village. The people complained of salty dust storms and poor fishing. "The sea has been slowly vanishing since the rivers were diverted for irrigation," an old woman told her. 


Travelling forward to 2020, Aila saw that the sea had continued to shrink. The coastline was now over 40 miles away from some villages.


In 2050, Aila stood on the parched seafloor where water had once been. Villages on the barren land were abandoned as the sea disappeared. Violent salt storms raged.


Finally, Aila visited 2100. The Aral Sea was fully gone, replaced by a vast desert. She coughed as salty toxic dust choked the air.  

Heartbroken, Aila grasped the medallion and returned to 1960, watching happily as sailors traveled the vibrant waters. She realized that in her time, they had to conserve water, restore rivers, and bring life back to the Aral Sea.

Back in the present year, Aila shared her tale with her village and suggested creating water efficient irrigation systems. Her grandfather smiled proudly, knowing the medallion had awakened Aila's passion to protect the precious Aral Sea.

Educational resource references:

APES: I. C. Global water resources and Use

APES: II. E. Natural Biogeochemical Cycles: water cycle 

NGSS: HS-ESS3. Earth and Human Impacts

Tags: geocomic water conservation Aral  FK8