Why do we live up here?

“Do you ever wonder?” asked the little boy in the ocean blue shorts as his focus shifted from the dock until he found himself gazing off into the azure depths of the sea, “Are we meant to live on land?” He simply looked up and to his right at his father expecting a response but as he could see he was not going to get one, he continued to speak.

“What if all this time, we’ve been living in these big huge cities, when really we were meant to be swimming underwater?” The man standing next to him realised his son was expecting an answer right away and said the first thing that came to mind.

“Well that wouldn’t really work now would it?” He crouched down next to the little boy and moved his arm below the brittle wood of the pier lifting some clear water up to the boy’s eye level.

“You see this star, no?” he asked with intonation, observing the intricacies of what he held in his palm.

“Well of course I do, it’s right there!” replied the little boy wondering why his father was taking so long to respond to such a simple question.

“This star is alive, kiddo,” he chuckled at his son’s confusion, “it’s called a starfish. It couldn’t survive up here because it needs to stay in the water.” The man looked down below the pier once again and picked up another.

“These sea stars are all over the place down here, if you look over carefully I bet you could see some.” The boy crouched down next to his dad and leaned over – the man needed to act quickly, dropping one of the stars so he could hold the boy’s chest to stop him from falling in – he laughed nervously.

“Oops sorry!” The boy quickly looked at his father, noticing how he would have fallen, “Hey, you’re right! These things are everywhere! Can we take one home?”

His father looked back to the bungalow-like huts, passed the hot, golden sand and said, “Nah, it wouldn’t survive with us,” he shook his head, “It needs the water from the sea to stay alive.” He gently lowered his arm once more to drop the little, yellow star back into its home.

“So you never answered my question Dad,” the boy looked at the man somewhat frustratingly, “what if all this time, we’ve been living in these big huge cities, when really we were meant to be swimming underwater?” The boy’s father chuckled lightly and sat down with his feet dangling into the seawater.

“Just like these amazing stars can’t survive above water for very long, we can’t survive below water for very long either.” He looked around behind the rubbish pile on the peninsula and pointed to the distance. “Those tall palm trees couldn’t breathe underwater, all these people on the beach couldn’t and we couldn’t.”

The boy copied his dad and sat on the end of the pier, he stared down to the depths below him.

“But all we need to do is live in one of the pink houses dad!” The boy exclaimed, pointing at some pale-red coral about sixty metres below them.

“Oh we couldn’t survive down there, we’d run out of breath before we even got there, let alone stayed there for a nice cup of tea.” The man looked back at the pile of rubbish and asked his son what he thought it was.

“Well that’s a rubbish pile dad, come on, you should know this!” The dad smiled and looked down quickly.

“Where do you think it came from?” he asked.

“Um, I’m not really sure,” he paused and thought for a moment, “they’re just… there, right? Like those trees just passed them.” He shivered.

“No, no no no,” he repeated, “We put it there!” The boy looked confused. “I bet if we walked over there right now, we’d find an empty bottle of orange juice just like the one you had with breakfast.”

“But,” the boy really couldn’t follow what his father was saying, “No, that doesn’t make sense, I put mine in the bin!”

The man jumped down below the docks and came back up with a piece of plastic in his hand.

“We put a lot of stuff in the bin after we’re done with them, but they don’t just stay there, and unfortunately a lot of people have decided it should go in the ocean.”

The boy adopted a frightened look on his face and looked around for one of those starfish his dad had shown him. After locking his eyes on one, he leapt into the water and picked one up from the sharp, grey rocks beneath his feet.

“What about all the fishies Dad?” He shouted nervously, “They can’t swim with the rubbish!” His dad nodded and saw that his son finally understood what he was leading up to.

“No son, the fishies, the starfishies, the dolphins, the whales,” he extended his arm over the turquoise landscape, “a lot of these things can’t do a lot of stuff with this rubbish here. It’s affecting them quite a bit.”

“Oh no.” The boy looked disheartened.

“Look, all we have to do to stop rubbish piles like that one from appearing as much is to use stuff that we don’t have to throw away or won’t end up here.”

“Like what?” The boy stared at his dad’s face expectantly.

“Well, we can use glass instead of plastic, wood instead of plastic, paper instead of plastic. All these things are good materials.”

The boy cheered up and smiled, “Well let’s do that then!”

The dad smiled back at the boy, “Sure! But it’s not just us who need to do this, kid, it’s everyone on this beach, everyone in England, everyone in the world!”

The little boy in the ocean blue shorts then smiled bigger than he had all day as an idea came to him.

Before his dad could do anything about it, the boy leapt up out of the water and ran over to the shining sand and shouted to everyone around him,

“We need to save the fishies, we need to save the fishies!”

The man by the pier just stood there and smiled before he followed his son home content.

El Fin.

Leave a comment