Plastic Tide

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A day at the beach, just what I needed after a long week of work, and, well, more work. With a book in hand, a towel to lie on and a large takeout lemonade from my favorite coffee shop, I planned to relax.

The beachfront was a fifteen-minute walk from my place. The perfect escape. There were a few natural rock formations that scattered my peaceful oasis filled with turtles that I liked to watch.

I set out my towel on a cleaner portion of the sand. The beach was filled with more trash than usual. Wasn't there someone to clean this stuff up?

I stared at the rocks. A few turtles were perched there, ready to bolt if I bothered them. They had the perfect life. Swimming around, minding their own business without a care in the world.

I lay on my blanket and took a sip of my drink. I closed my eyes for just a minute.

"If the trash bothers you so much, clean it up yourself."

I bolted upright, looking around, but I saw nothing. The only thing around was one of the turtles, resting on a rock, staring at me. Was I hearing things? I was about to resume my reclined position when I heard the voice again.

"Yes, I'm talking to you."

What the... Nobody was around. Just me and this turtle.

"Are you talking to me?" I asked the reptile.

"Is there anyone else here?" it said, it's mouth not moving.

I did a double take. "Am I dreaming?"

"Of course you're dreaming! Turtles don't talk."

I sighed in relief. I wasn't losing my mind.

"About the garbage," the turtle continued. "Do us all a favor and clean it up because this perfect life you think we have... think again."

"Excuse me?"

"Clean up the garbage. It's killing us. Along with that straw in your fancy lemonade. The straw you're going to throw out without a second thought. The same straw that either me or one of my friends will have lodged in a nostril. And that plastic cup? One of us will get it caught around our head. Then we are going to die. It's not a fun death."

"Oh."

"And those fishing nets? The ones you use to harvest my friends by accident? When you're done with it, maybe you humans can clean it up and dispose of it properly. So we don't die trapped inside it. Just saying."

"I'm sorry. I really am."

"You seem like a nice human, but you need to keep our waterways clean. We're dying out here. Do the entire ocean a favor: Buy a reusable cup for your drinks, and if you need a straw, there are biodegradable ones. There are even reusable ones. It's a plastic jungle out there, but you can keep it clean if you try."

"Okay. I will."

"And tell your friends."

"I promise."

"Now you better wake up. The tide is coming in. And clean up your garbage before you go."

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