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I remember how the beach was when I was little.  The bright sun warmed my skin as spray from the ocean lighted gently upon it.  The air tasted salty in that familiar way.  The sky was clear, and the horizon blue. The gentle sound of the crashing waves sounded in my ears.  I saw all this around me, but missed something else entirely.  I remember how the beach was when I was little, and I remember seeing it in a different light for the first time and wondering how I had been blind before.

                 *       *       *

The waves lapped in a gentle caress upon the shore.  I was walking with my dad parallel to the breaking waves.  I ran along the sun basked beach, the wet sand feeling nice under my bare feet.  I occasionally would run down towards the waves and when they crashed I would run back trying to beat the wave, but it would always win and rush past my ankles.  It was a nice day and I beamed happily inside and out.  The world was a good place.

After a while we came to sit on the beach to rest.  My dad handed me a Coke (I preferred Pepsi but at seven you take what you can get).  He laid out a towel to sit upon, and he sat watching the waves while I played in the sand digging sand mines for the construction of regal castles.

As I scooped out a handful of sand, a swift biting pain went through one of my fingers.  Drawing my hand up I could saw a small crimson tear of blood and a bright glint of sunlight around it.  It was a piece of glass.  My dad inspected the softly weeping wound and frowned in disgust at the broken bottle I had unearthed.  He carefully removed the small sliver of glinting light from my finger and discarded it.  I immediately stuck my stinging finger into my mouth with tears perched behind my eyes.  He scowled and with a look of contempt towards the bottle he said we should go back to the car.

I thought of the bottle as we walked, retracing our route along the shore to avoid the heat of the biting sand.  I sipped my Coke and thought of the uniqueness of the bottle.  Some mean person must have left it.  After all only a mean person would do such a thing.  I had never seen a bottle before, neglected as that one was.  Breaking my thoughts I noticed a glint upon the beach.  Like a bold statement another bottle grinned at me with a sinister refraction of light and farther away I could see another, not broken, half buried in the sand and abandoned.  I was sad and confused, wondering why would people leave those things; weren’t they dangerous?  I sipped my Coke and saw something else buried in the sand that looked like the same can I was drinking out of.  It wasn’t a Coke can but a Dr. Pepper, and the sun had faded its coloring to a dingy red.  I noticed more and more things appearing like beacons out of a fog that had obscured them from sight.  A Styrofoam cup glared at me.  A trash can stood neglected, and ignored, with noticeable trash around its sides.  The trash that hadn’t made it in was being spread down the beach by the wind.  A seagull landed and pecked at a forgotten Lays potato chip bag.

Why, my mind cried out, why?  The beach, so beautiful before, looked scarred and damaged.  I took a sip of my Coke and spat it upon the sand; it tasted bitter now and left a funny taste in my mouth.  I wondered if I had ever left a can by accident before.  We walked past a plastic Lucky’s bag that rolled caught by the wind and rolled like some sick perversion of a tumbleweed upon the desert sand.  I felt so confused and my chest was seized up in guilty grief.

I saw a fish wash up on the shore and it starred at me with accusing dead eyes.  Look what you’ve done, the fish seemed to say, look what you and your people did to me.  I wanted to apologize to the fish, tears were starting to course down my cheek.  Not just bad men but everyone seemed to be disregarding the beaches rights and I worried that I might have been doing it too.  It seemed so horrid a crime, so capital a offense, and it made not one bit of sense in my mind why people would do that.  Why I had never seen it before.  How could I have been so blind, so oblivious?

My dad and I trekked across the searing hot sand towards the car.  The sand stung my feet but I didn’t care, maybe because I thought I deserved it.  Many more tears found their way out, much more than my slight wound had let out.  The wound carved by the day was much deeper than the glass could go, and not going to go away as easily.

When we were finally driving away from the beach I found my mind drifting back to it.  All of the terrible sights kept rising up in my mind.  Most of all I thought of the dead fish, already rotting inside, and how it had seemed to be staring at me with its unseeing eyes.  We had caused it, we had hurt it, and we were to blame.  The beach was such a beautiful place and home to so many wonderful animals but look at what we were doing.  With a gigantic pang of guilt I realized something terrible . . . we had left the glass bottle where it was.  My dad and I were part of the problem as well.  I wept large tears and apologized in my mind to the fish with accusing dead eyes.  I was so sorry, so sorry, so very very sorry.

                 *       *       *

I’ve wondered a lot why I had never seen the trash before.  Why I had been blind to its obscenities?  I think it was because I grew up with it.  The trash had always been there so maybe in some way the broken bottles, windswept bags, and discarded cans were such a common sight that they were blocked from simple perception.  It is a disturbing thought for the future.  What will the coming generations make of the messes we have made for them, or will they not see them and just accept them as common place.  Sometimes late at night I would close my eyes and my wandering mind would still see the dead fish . . . only it wasn’t just the one dead fish but a towering pile of them with all of their eyes turned upon me.  

I made my peace with the fish years later.  I was on the beach by myself, I would like to think it was the same spot, and I happened across a shattered bottle.  With heavy thoughts I gathered up the shards and walked towards the trash can.  On the way I came across a small brown paper bag, a aluminum soda can (Pepsi, which was still my favorite), and a Styrofoam cup, and gathered them all in bundle.  Standing over the trash can with the clump of litter I made a resolution to myself: I would never be blind to it again.  I dropped all of it into the trash can.  In my imagination the fish’s eyes turned away from me at that moment.  I think they still stare at those who are oblivious.

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 by TheCosmicCheese

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Subject: About: oblivious May 13th, '03 3:35pm

[Post edited by: TheCosmicCheese on May 13th, '03 3:37pm
This was an essay I did for my English100: Freshman Composition class.  I've left it unedited from its final submitted draft.

The assignment was to write an essay of type 'descriptional' about an event that impacted our lives.  I'm no good at writing about myself, terrible in fact, so-ooo-oo, I made something up =P

Although I know it destroys all credibility and compassion you've connected with me for the heart-warming awaking: the entire preceding 'comming of age' anecdote is fictional. =(

But I got a 95 on the paper, despite a few spelling and gramatical errors (which are still in there, see if you can find them =D).  Oh, and she was going to deduct for the lack of flow from the rapid series-es of short sentances, but I argued it gave a more childlike feel getting short vivid descriptions, rather then robust long winded ones.  Hope you enjoyed it =)  

[Pretend the font is white in the below pic.  For some reason its  mis-allocating colors *shudders =( eww pink*]

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