A Seashore Once More
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It had finally arrived...the weekend I was dreading all summer. Three whole days and two nights at Uncle Bill's beach house. Mom and dad were so excited when they told me about it that I didn't have the heart to tell them how gross I thought the whole idea really was! I mean, giving up the last good baseball game before school starts? Major crisis, being I was the star pitcher! This would mean finding a substitute for me and that meant Joey Mitchell would finally get his wish. And what if he was good...REALLY good?
My whole pitching career could be going up in smoke this very minute and there was nothing I could do about it. The team would be having all the fun while I was stuck for a whole weekend watching out for my 18-month old brother! Oh well, I guess if I had to suffer, the beach was as good a place as any.
"Chloe dear, hurry up!" Mom yelled, "We're an hour behind already. Grab Timmy's blanket on your way out, will you? And if you insist on dragging that beat-up, dirty baseball mitt along, please keep it away from your brother--he likes to chew on it!"
Poor Mom. Whether she liked it or not, she was beginning to realize her only daughter was a full-fledged tomboy. It hit her pretty hard that awful day she enrolled me in ballet class and I showed up wearing my football helmet...but that's another story. I thought she'd forget all about it, but by the way she winces every time she sees me wearing it, I think the vision is still fresh in her mind. Right now I was more worried about having my pitching job with the 5th grade 'Mudpuppies' when I returned.
This seashore idea wouldn't be so bad except for the fact that my parents always go a little overboard when it comes to anything regarding saving the earth like communicating with nature, ecology, recycling, and environmental junk. Frankly, it bores me! Dad says I should take more of an interest since it will affect my future, but there are so many things that interest me more. There's football, baseball, skateboarding...all the things girls aren't supposed to like, according to Mom.
A couple of hours, and too many Timmy tantrums later, we pulled into the driveway of our home away from home. I looked around the neighborhood and immediately knew I was doomed when I spotted a couple of girls about my age next door playing with Barbie dolls--Ugh! Maybe babysitting my brother wasn't such a bad idea after all.
I helped dad unload the car just to make sure mom hadn't left my baseball bat or football home on purpose, and then decided to take a walk down by the ocean. I thought it best to keep out of sight in case the 'Barbie Doll Club' wanted to sign up a new member.
"Mom," I asked in desperation, "is it okay if I check out the beach?"
"Sure honey," she chirped, "but don't wander too far...it looks like rain clouds moving in." That overly-protective tone would be there for the rest of my life I guessed.
The breeze from the ocean felt chilly as I stumbled along trying not to let the tide get my feet wet. Looking up after a few minutes, I stopped in my tracks. I blinked hard and looked again. The whole stretch of beach looked like the city dump! Beer and soda cans were lying in the sand as far as I could see. Candy wrappers and potato chip bags were scattered everywhere. In the distance I could see an old car tire and what looked like someone's rubber boot piled in a small heap. This sure didn't look like any picture postcard I'd ever seen! I never realized until now what damage littering could really do. Maybe there was something to this recycling stuff after.
I walked up the beach a little farther and found a secluded spot between two big rocks and sat down to think for a moment. I looked up at the sky to keep an eye out for those rain clouds Mom talked about, and noticed they were moving away from me. As my eyes followed them, they lead straight to some kind of factory across the way. They weren't storm clouds at all--it was black smoke pumping out from a chimney! Another one of those boring words suddenly popped into my head--pollution!
It quickly made me stop and think--if the beach looked this bad now, what would it look like in a couple of years from now when Timmy was older? Maybe there wouldn't be a beach left for him to build sandcastles on!
The sound of the waves and warmth of the sun were starting to make me feel a little drowsy. The long drive up the coast must've been more tiring than I thought. My eyelids became very heavy...I closed them for just a minute.
A strange noise came from somewhere near. I looked down and watched as an army of sand crabs crawled towards me. Each one of them had tiny pieces of garbage between their claws and they began throwing it at me! Some were reaching for my feet and trying to pinch my toes! I jumped up and screamed at them to stop, but they kept moving closer and started chanting, "This is our home--leave it alone!"
They became louder and louder until I had to cover my ears. I started to run but they followed me right into the water and then stopped. It was as if they didn't want to go back into the ocean. Suddenly, a huge wave erupted from the water and a giant octopus appeared. All eight of its arms held some form of garbage. It laughed wickedly as it tossed a soft drink can at me with one arm and a black, slimy glob with another, all the while yelling, "Toxic! Toxic!" I screamed as loud as I could for help but no one seemed to hear me. Each time I tried to move, a pile of garbage would hit me from a different octopus arm! Confused and scared, I wondered what was happening. Then it finally came to me. All the sea creatures were rebelling against us humans for polluting their home! I started to run, but every step had me sinking deeper into the sand.
Panicking, I cried out, "Help! Help! Will somebody ple-e-e-e-ase, help me?!!"
I felt a hand on my shoulder and quickly jerked away.
"Chloe, Chloe, wake up!" I opened my eyes to see my dad standing over me. "That must've been some dream you were having," he chuckled, "the way your arms were swinging through the air it's a good thing you left your baseball bat in the house!"
"Oh, daddy," I gasped, "it wasn't a dream--it was a horrible nightmare! Everything that lives in the ocean was getting back at us for littering up their homes. I can't really blame them...just look at the beach--isn't it awful?"
Dad glanced up and down the shore and shook his head in disgust. "I guess some people just don't care where they throw their waste. It looks like no one ever uses the garbage cans that are sitting here. If people would realize that it only takes a minute to throw their garbage away, it wouldn't have to look like this. Everyone is in too much of a hurry these days to care."
Just then a terrific idea came to me. I knew what I could do to help. "C'mon Dad, let's go back to the house...I've got a plan!"
I didn't even stop to eat dinner. I ran from door to door, up and down the neighbourhood and asked every kid I could find to help me pick up the litter on the beach. As a reward, Mom planned a barbecue party to celebrate our finished project. We would start first thing in the morning.
When we were done, the seashore almost did look like that picture postcard! At least we made it a cleaner, prettier place for a while. Maybe I'd have to come back every year just to make sure Timmy got his chance to build that sandcastle.
I changed a little from the experience. Oh, I'm still a tomboy, but my views on the land, air, and water around me have changed...for the better. Those 'nature' words don't seem quite so boring to me any more.
And do you know what? My new project helped me to forget my worries about the baseball AND the 'Mudpuppies.' Even clunky old Joey Mitchell.
And it gave me a good feeling inside too.
Almost as good as pitching a no-hitter!
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