Chapter 3: Walking the Walk

Previous Chapters: one and two.

Chapter 3: Walking the Walk

                        Last night, Angus went knocking on Death’s door and he was welcomed with open arms. The struggle had gone on for weeks, but finally Angus has been relieved. Since there is nothing left of his red body, we’re having more of a ceremony than a burial. Where would we even bury a body anyway? Any place here would be a disgrace. Most around here deserve better than that.

Hardly anyone showed because they are tired of being confronted by what they are trying to avoid. Ever since I had met Angus in the dumpster, he was bitter about the end he knew would come. He lost his hope of being rescued when he left the city. I realize that I have lost hope. The trash around here has tried to convince me that it’s hopeless and I have let them.

Fiona was at the funeral and afterwards she comes up to me.

“Hey. I haven’t seen you around in a while,” I say.

“Yeah, I’ve been doing some thinking,” she responds. “You were right. Not about people coming to get us because that is obviously never going to happen, but about being such an optimist. We shouldn’t accept our fate. We may not be rescued by someone else, but we can still rescue ourselves. We can go to the recycling center. We can have a new life. Angus’ death helped me realize that I don’t want to die here. I would rather die trying to get out then to die here.”

“Wow, I didn’t see this coming,” I pause to consider the idea, “I don’t think this is a good idea.”

“Are you kidding? You would rather putrefy in this God forsaken place then just take a chance? If you stay here you will die. You talked to Polly; no one comes here. If you want to get out, you have to get yourself out,” she says, each word getting louder.

I consider what she has said then shake my head.

“I can’t. For me it’s the opposite of what you’ve said. I’m only a spoon. I’m not smart like you. I know that if I try to get out then I will die, but if I wait someone could come.” I say still hopeful.

“God. If you would take some of that belief you have in other people that care nothing about you and invest it in yourself, you could be a lot more productive. But whatever, it’s your choice. I’ll be leaving for the recycling center in a couple of days, so when you decide to stop being a coward come and find me,” she tells me.

She leaves me stunned and all I can do is watch her go. There was no point in me chasing after her, so I just went back to the bag I had found and started to live in. She is right. I am a coward and she probably is also right about no one coming to save me. If I want a chance then I’ll have to fight for it because no one else is going to give it to me.  That’s all life has been shouting at me since the day I was made. She is right. The question is will I have the courage to do anything about it.

I look across the mountain of waste that is viewable from my bag; most of it is lost forever. I still have the ability to change my situation, but in a few months I’ll be so broken I won’t even be able to turn my head from the mountain. I realize now that I would much rather be dead than being a miserable rot. I won’t give myself time to second guess, but there is something I need to do first.

I start to ascend the mountains on the way to the island that Fiona had brought me to a few weeks ago. At the peak of the mountain, I immediately spot Polly who now looked so much worse. She may not be able to decompose, but she is now broken into many more pieces. Even as I stand before her, she doesn’t look up.

“Polly,” I say quietly.

Her eyes rise slowly and lock with mine. They are lifeless.

“Fiona and I are going to try and escape. We’re going to the recycling center. I want you to come with us,” I say, still quiet.

She says nothing and she gives no indication that she will even consider my proposal.

“We may not make it. We probably won’t. But I would rather die out there with hope than die in here like we are right now,” I say.

I stop to let what I’ve said soak in. She gives no response.

“We’ll be leaving tomorrow morning. I desperately hope you will meet and come with us,” I say and leave her to consider my offer.

I wake up to the sound of birds crying. Sometimes I wish they would cry for justice for us, but even if they were, no one is around to hear them.  I groan in contempt for what I hope is the last time. I don’t have to walk far before I see Fiona; even from far away I can see her screen beaming with delight. I rush to her and hug her as if my life depends on it. It does depend on her.

“Is Polly coming?” I ask hopefully.

Her face fell. “No. This morning some more trash trucks came in and the island was buried. She is stuck. There is really no hope for her now.”

She saw the guilt covering my face.

“You tried to get her to come. She had already made her decision then. If she had already decided to come then she wouldn’t have been on the island anyway. There is nothing you could have done,” she says pulling me toward the entrance of the landfill.

Miles stand between us and our destination.

We are now almost there, but it’s about to get far more dangerous. We hear a horrid screeching of a trash trucks coming our way. We start to run, but it is already too late. We get thrown to the ground, pounded into the top layers of trash. The sound is deafening; it’s like being at the bottom of hundreds of waterfalls. Fiona yells something at me, but I can’t hear her. I feel like I’m being broken in half. An eternity goes by, but finally, it’s over. Fortunately, I’m not packed in the trash and I can start to wiggle my way out. When I reach the top, I see Fiona standing. I am thoroughly relieved, but I am noticing a crack splitting her face.

“What happened?” I ask rushing to her.

“Well, I managed to stay on top by wiggling my way up layer by layer instead of waiting and letting trap me at the bottom. It came with a price because it all fell directly on me instead of letting the upper layer take some of the blows,” she cackles from her microphone.

“Come on we need go before they come back.”

As we walk, she has to continuously wipe the chemicals off because they’re blinding her only eye as they poor down her face.

We have made it outside the gates that have surrounded us for all this time. We are met with deserted land. Spaceless, timeless, but we hear the noise from the busy streets even as they are so far away. We run towards that noise as if its energy is what will keep us alive; the noise guides like the North Star. I stop just before we are within the drivers’ view.

“Wait! Won’t they thinks unnatural for us to be up and walking around,” I ask with sudden panic.

She, once again, bursts into laughter. I’m really tired of that.

“You’re still so pathetic. Haven’t I convinced you already? No one cares about us. All that,” she waves behind her, “what we just came from, the pollution, the smells, the health problems, all of it has been happening right under their noses. They haven’t noticed and if they have then they don’t care. They’re busy. They have no time to care about anything, but their own problems. I assure you, they’re not going to notice a couple of pieces of ‘misplaced’ litter.”

That settles that. Once again, believing in people has made me an idiot.

Cars are backed up, bumper to bumper and the traffic is going nowhere. We choke on the obnoxious fumes. It’s deafening, but we decide that it was the best time to move since the cars weren’t moving. We walk across the lanes of cars, slowly, but somewhat safely. The light turns green and it doesn’t take much to realize that we’re out of time. I quickly move to the middle of the lane, so that I won’t be stuck where the tires were. Fiona was not as lucky though. I turn in horror to see just as a set of tires roll over her and I hear her frame crack.

“Fiona!” I cry running to her. I barely escape my own set of tires, but I get to her and drag her to the middle of the lane. We can wait until the traffic dies down and get across safely.

The light turns red which is our only chance we have to make it. I haul her to the curb where we both collapse. I have never been so afraid in my life. The recycling center is only 50 feet away; its sign is a beacon. Fiona is not in good shape, but I know we can make it.

“It’s not too far. We can get there. Come on,” I say as I gather all my courage and strength to get both Fiona and myself there.

I knew she couldn’t make it without my help. We limp towards the recycling center; with each step it seems to get farther and farther away. People crowd the sidewalks and we can’t go fast enough to avoid meeting the bottom of someone’s shoe. We move over and hug the wall that lines the sidewalk.  Fiona hobbled nearest to the wall and I was closest to the dangerous elements. Almost there. Five feet away, but Fiona has to stop. She’s leaking everywhere. I move over to let her have some breathing room which is the biggest mistake I could have made. Someone steps on me. Fiona was right. I don’t even think they noticed and I know for sure that they didn’t check if I was okay. I look back and realize that my handle is hanging on by a thread.

“You have to go. You have to make it,” I tell her.

“So do you! We’re almost there,” she yells trying to be heard over all the ruckus.

“Alright, come on,” I say pulling myself up.

Fiona makes it and I feel a wave of relief and I give myself permission to stop. One of us made it. That is good enough. I lie down and close my eyes. I feel pressure and a rush as I am picked up. My eyes jerk open and I find myself being put into a receptacle full of trash.

“No!” I start to yell and thrash with new found energy.

I made it all this way and it was all for nothing. Even until this moment I was naïve enough to believe that people would care.  I fall on a pile of plastic. Not unlike the dumpster, the smell was overwhelming; I feel just like I did then. It’s the worst feeling, knowing I was wrong.

“What’s happening?” I ask disoriented.

“Welcome to the recycling bins. It’s where you go when someone realizes your potential,” said a plastic bottle.

I sigh with relief. I am home.

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Chapter 2: Cause and Effect

If you haven’t read chapter one, you can catch up here.

Chapter 2: Cause and Effect

Now I’m just part of the 160 million pounds of trash thrown away. Since most landfills are designed not to degrade because of the toxic chemicals that would leach into the water system, we won’t even get the sweet release of death.

I seem to be fading in and out of consciousness. The smell, oh the horrid reek is enough to make me nauseous. Every time I wake up I expect to be back home with my siblings or rescued, but here I still am. I turn my head and find something staring at me.

I groan, “What? What are you looking at?”

“Well, you were drooling and I was fascinated,” says the object.

“Ugh,” is my reply as I wipe the drool from my scoop.

“What are you anyway?” I ask the object who is still staring.

“Well, first I’m a who. My name is Fiona and I am an iphone,” she replies.

I had heard of those. Both Mark and Lucy had one, but they too had replaced theirs not too long ago. ‘Smart phones’ they had called them. I look at her from top to bottom. Nothing appeared to be physically wrong with her and she seemed smart enough.

“Why are you here?” I ask.

“Here talking to you? I really have no idea, you’re quite dull. Thanks for saving me the time of trying to figure how to point it out without being rude,” she replies and turns around to scoot away.

“No, I didn’t mean that. I’ll try to ignore the fact that you just called me dull though. I meant why are you in the landfill,” I reply.

“Oh. Sorry. Well, not really. You are dull, but I guess you can’t help that. I’m here for the same reason that everyone else is. I am an iphone 4 and the iphone 4s came out, so off I went. The only major differences between me and those created after me is they have a slightly better camera and video recorder and Siri. Siri is a freakin’ snob, but everyone seems to love it. Because of all these things that no one really needs I’m only an afterthought and I’ve been sent here to waste away in this mess where I will soon be leaching the toxins that people put inside me back into their water supply so they can drink it. Ironic right? For a year all I did was listen to my owner’s pathetic conversations about her stupid boyfriend, never even saying a word about how brainless she sounded. Siri seems to be a bit of a smart aleck. I wonder if she’s been able to hold her tongue,” she pauses to consider the idea.  “Anyways, this is the reward I get for my own brainless servitude,” she spat bitterly.

“Yeah, well at least you got to be used for a little while. No one wanted to use me at all,” I retort.

She looks at me with her small black eye and there is a sense of sadness there now.

“Yeah, that does suck,” she says.

“That’s okay, I’m going to be rescued pretty soon and then I’ll be upcycled,” I reply with a sudden spark of hope.

She gives a burst of laughter, “Oh! You’re even more naïve than I was when I first got here.”

“What do you mean? There’s a whole group. Angus told me all about them. They are going to come and rescue me,” I exclaim.

Fiona laughs again, “There is somebody that you need to meet.”

I follow Fiona because I don’t know where to go and she leads me an even smaller pile on the island littered with broken bodies and hearts. It looks old, depressing and just down in the dumps like a hospice where people go to die. She stands in front of a block of Styrofoam.

“This is Polystyrene. We call her Polly for short,” she turns to Polly, “This is Dixie. He’s a newbie.”

Fiona lies down beside Polly and I sit down beside her. I look at Polly who is now looking at me with her lifeless eyes.

“Hello, Polly. It’s nice to meet you although under unfortunate circumstances,” I say.

“Yes, Dixie here believes that someone is going to rescue him,” she says trying to keep laughter out of her voice, “What do you think about that?”

For just a second there is a spark in Polly’s eyes. I guess somebody might as well benefit from my misery if it can’t be me.

“I think he is in for a rude awakening,” her voice cracked.

“I’ve been here for over fifty years and other than the people who dump more stuff on us, I haven’t seen one person even look our way,” she says, her voice raspy from years of breathing in toxins.

“You’ve been here for fifty years!?” I ask astounded by the very thought.

“Yes and I was made to last for at least one million or at most infinite. I have too far to go,” she says.

I cry, “One million years! How is that even possible?”

“Styrofoam is synthetic and there are no organisms that have enzymes to digest it, so we’re doomed to stay here for eternity. Plastic goes through photodegradation which means they need sunlight to decompose. Most trash gets buried either underneath the earth or underneath more trash, so it wouldn’t be unreasonable for me to say most plastic may never decompose. This goes for all plastic, but we’re all made up of many toxins and chemicals, so if we did decompose, we would end up leaking them into the ground water. Too bad we don’t, otherwise humans might actually get some pay back for what they’ve done. They need to be reminded that if there is a cause there is always an effect. Even here,” she says.

I am shocked to hear what she said. I’m plastic. If what she said is correct, then it means I’d be destined to stay in this wasteland forever. I don’t know how to accept that. Then I hear her say those horrible things about people.

“What do you mean? You don’t think they would rescue us if they knew we were here? I know they would,” I protest.

“Then you’re even more of an idiot then I could have thought. Of course they don’t care. They’re the ones who put us in here,” she says.

I am taken aback by her comment. I don’t think I’m an idiot. I think about Mark and Lucy. Would they care? I think so. They cared about their children, about their job, about money, and I think about each other, so why wouldn’t they care about me?

“Maybe they would if they knew what happened to us afterward…” I start.

“Save your breath kid, your optimism is making me cranky,” she says.

I stop, shocked by her attitude. She is still waving me, so I guess it’s time for me to go. I turn away from the sad sight of the defeated items and make my way back to my living space. I don’t know what happened to Fiona or when I realized she wasn’t with me.

A couple of weeks have gone by. I haven’t heard from Fiona. All I have done is sit, think and watch Angus rot. It’s horrible and I’m depressed because I don’t know what to do. The idea that maybe nobody really cares about what they’ve done to me or to the friends I’ve made here is one I don’t want to believe. I don’t know what to do, but giving up is not an option. For the meantime, I sit here with my friend Angus while he suffers an unwarranted death that was not meant to be. My only hope is that someday someone will do the same for me if I need them to.

Birds chirp, the roar of trash trucks is enough to awake me with a jerk. The sky is cloudy, dreary and overly depressing. I turn to check on Angus and see that birds have taken huge chunks out of him. I scramble and slap his face trying to see if he would wake up. I hear a weak groan. It’s a disappointment almost because I know how much pain he must be in.

“Are you okay? Is there anything I can do to help?” I ask frantically.

“Please, please just put me out of my misery,” he croaks.

I held his hand, “You know I can’t do that. I could cut you up into tiny pieces and you wouldn’t be any more dead then you are now.”

“If you cut me up into tiny pieces then each smaller piece will decompose faster than this large piece. I can’t…” he stops with a wince, “It’s too much. You have to do something.”

“I can’t. All I can I do is stay with you. You know I’m not strong enough,” I plead.

His silence is more disheartening than his complaining. My only hope is that death will come and save him soon.

Short Story Chapter 1: A Rude Awakening

I had to write a short story for my creative writing class. I had written a vignette not too long ago and I used the same character, but I didn’t have enough space to do anything too major, so I just saved it for the short story assignment. I hate authors that leave you hanging and dying until the next book comes out. It’s just plain mean, but for once I now have that power. My chapter endings aren’t that much of cliff hanger, but I’ll only be posting one chapter a day cause I can. Anyways, enjoy.

Chapter 1: A Rude Awakening

Hello, my name is Dixie and I’m a white plastic spoon. About two months ago, I was waiting in a bag on the shelves of a giant store with my 99 siblings. There were thousands of families like ours and we were waiting to be adopted out. A nice young family with a mom and dad, a baby girl and school-aged son came and looked at all of us.

“Hey! Hey! Pick me, pick me,” all of us would cry as people came down our aisle.

My family and I had been waiting for months, but now finally our time was here.

“They picked us. We can finally be loved and fulfill our purpose! We can live happily ever after,” we cried in excitement.

Little did we know that our dreams would become our nightmare. It was an ordinary Friday night and my siblings and I were just laying on the cupboard shelf like we normally we do when all of a sudden the door to the cupboard was opened and a blinding light came flooding in. One might have been angered by the startling sight, but we knew it could only mean one thing…we were going to be used! We started cheering as the man whose apartment we were staying in picked us up.

Party decorations were strewn about. It was obviously a child’s birthday. A dash of bright blue with a splash of yellow, the sight of Wolverine and the smell of pizza were so strong they could have made one hazy. The party had yet to start and the apartment was empty besides the four family members, so one could easily hear the busy streets, honking horns below on the New York streets.

The man, who the lady usually called Mark, grabbed a handful of us and tossed us in a cup. There we would wait to finally fulfill our destiny. One by one my siblings were picked out, used, but they never came back. Finally it got down to just a couple of us. We all stood tall and smiled as big as we could, trying to be that perfect pick. But the music stopped and so did deafening sound of kids yelling. The apartment emptied just as it was about to be my turn. I yelled for people to come back, but no one listened. Another day maybe.

Mark called out, “Hey, Lucy, what do you want me to do with these leftover spoons? Keep them for another time or just throw them away?”

Our ears perked up and our handles straightened so much we thought we might snap.

Lucy peered around the corner and replied, “Just throw them away. It’s too much space taken up and hassle for just a couple of spoons.”

Mark picked us up and threw us into another bag filled with dirty plates, half eaten pizza slices and melted ice cream. I was appeased by the taste of ice cream. I love ice cream, but then the bag got dark and the sounds of the street got louder. It was earsplitting.

“Where are we going?” I cried. I tried to cower in the bag, blend in with my surroundings, anything that I could do to delay my untimely demise. It was too late; there was no one there to care or to save me. They threw me into the dumpster. It stunk like rotting food, dirty diapers, beer, and cigarettes. It was the most disgusting combination of smells; it was worse than anything, anyone could have ever imagined.

“What’s happening?” I asked slightly taken aback by the smell.

“Welcome to the dumpster. It’s where you go when you outlive your usefulness and no one wants you anymore,” said a mope piece of lettuce.

The smell was so awful that it was making me dizzy, so I couldn’t focus on what he was saying.

“What’s happening?” I asked again.

“You’ve been thrown away. Get used to it, it’s only going to get worse from here,” said a symphony of beef cuts still perfectly wrapped.

‘This must be a dream,’ I thought.

I closed my eyes for several seconds, hoping that when I opened them I would be back safe in the cupboard. When I opened my eyes, it was a rude awakening. The smell was there, the hopeless faces were still there, and I was still there.

They look perfectly useful to me, so why were they in the trash, I wondered.

“Why are you guys here? You don’t look useless?” I asked.

“We’re past our expiration date. No one will even consider us if we’re expired even if we’re still perfectly fine. The store owners threw us out. We’re hoping to get rescued though. There is a group of people called the freegans or people who limit their participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources. They usually bargain, trade or extreme cases, dumpster dive for what they want. They embrace community, generosity, social concern, freedom, cooperation, and sharing in opposition to a society based on materialism, conformity, and greed. We hear about freegans who dumpster dive for food all the time and we’re hoping they’ll see how useful we really are.”

“Is there any hope for me?” I asked.

“Not unless, a group comes around that is into upcycling,” they replied in harmony.

“What’s upcycling,” I asked.

“Upcycling or giving everyday products a new life and purpose. I’ve heard of people who fold wrappers into a certain way that make them into a chain and eventually it makes a purse. Or people who take wine corks and make corkboards. Different things like that,” they replied.

“So what’s your name?” I asked.

“Our name is Angus,” they replied.

So that’s how we got here and that’s what has happened up until this moment. It’s the morning after I was thrown away. We’re still waiting and I have a tortuous headache. But, oh, oh no I hear a trash truck. Beeping, oh that horrid beeping.

We cry, “Some of are still good. Donate us, recycle us, repurpose us!” No one is listening, they’re taking us anyway, but we don’t stop crying. Our cries hovered in the city.  The people of this country seem to be too lazy to save us or don’t care enough to see our worth.

We’re not giving up until we draw our last breath. For some that will be thousands of years, for some just a few months, but we can’t give up. The trash truck dumps into the landfill. It smells worse than the dumpster; almost 1000 times worse. Most of the new trash and I land with our faces down in the goop. We turn around and look up. All that surrounds us is mountains, valleys, oceans of hopelessness.

Creative Writing Assignment

I’m in a creative writing class and we’re working on vignette, a short impressionistic scene that focuses on one moment or gives particular insight into a character, an idea, or a setting and sometimes an object short enough to fit vine leaf. Pretty tall order since the only time my brain really actually functions and then my head gets filled with ideas and things that I just need to say. Anyways, I wrote about my first dumpster diving experience and I wrote in the point of view of a spoon that I had rescued. I turned it, nervous as all get out that the teacher would be closed minded and hate the idea. I think I was majorly dehydrated all week long. Anyways, turns out she totally loved it, for reasons that weren’t exactly my intention. She things it’s funny. There are some things she wanted to me change like the length, duh, and she wanted me to take the happy ending and make it where the spoon stays in the trash and it would be like inspiring people to want to save the spoon. What kind of story is that? What’s the point of saving the spoon if they don’t know what to do with it? I don’t know. I told her that the point was to make people see what they could do instead of throwing things away, blah, blah, blah. She said, okay do what you want that’s just what I think. Just now I got an e-mail from her and she said she kept laughing about all day and she kept thinking of alternate endings like being eaten away by chemicals or developing some kind of addiction to chemicals. I kind of see where she was going with it, but I still want people to see what they can do besides throwing things away. I’m trying to decide whether I should be offended about laughing or not. lol, oh well.

So anyways, I’m going to post it on here, you can tell me what you think or not, but I thought I should post it on here before I change anything.

A Repurposed Life

Hello, my name is Dixie and I’m a white plastic spoon. Once I lived with a family of four, but then I outlived my usefulness for them, so they threw me away.  I was separated from my brothers and sisters, but I was rescued from a dumpster by a young girl. She promised to give me a new life with a new purpose. I’ve seen her do it for others, so if I wait, I know someday it will be my turn. I know this is all a little confusing, so I’ll start at the beginning.

About two months ago, I was waiting in a bag on the shelves of a giant store with my hundred siblings. There were thousands of families like ours and we were waiting to be adopted out. A nice young family with a mom and dad, a baby girl and school-aged son came and looked at all of us.

“Hey! Hey! Pick me, pick me,” all of us would cry as people came down our aisle.

My family and I had been waiting for months, but now finally our time was here.

“It’s us. They picked us. We can finally be loved and fulfill our purpose! We can live happily ever after,” we cried in excitement.

Little did we know that our dreams would become our nightmare. We went home with the family and one by one my siblings were picked out, used, but they never came back.

At this time Kayla was in an environmental science class learning about the harmful effects that trash has on the environments.

She asked her mom one day, “Why don’t we recycle?”

“Because it takes up too much space and when we’ve tried it before, it drew bugs,” replied her mom.

“Could we try again? Even if we only do it the winter when there are less bugs, it will be better than nothing,” Kayla replied.

Persuasion was necessary, but finally her mother agreed.  For Kayla, recycling wasn’t enough. She knew she could do better, so she researched ways she could help more and that’s when she learned about upcycling or giving everyday products a new life and purpose. A purse made out of candy wrappers is a great example. Wrappers folded a certain way fold wrapper so they connect together. Then they make a chain. After being sewn together, the wrappers take the shape of a purse.

She started collecting things from her family’s trash, but there wasn’t very much variety, so she researched for other ideas. That’s when she heard about dumpster diving. It was around Christmas when she was researching this idea. Kayla’s great aunt, Chelle, was sitting beside her and kept asking her what she was doing.

“I’m trying to learn how to dumpster dive. I don’t have the project materials to make the different kinds of projects that I want. This may be the solution, but I’m trying to find out when to go, where to go, rules and whatnots,” Kayla replied slightly embarrassed.

“Really? That sounds fun. College dorms are perfect for that. And it’s right around the end the semester, so people are moving out and throwing the things they can’t bring with them,” said Chelle.

The next day Kayla’s mom, dad, great aunt and Kayla went to the dorm dumpsters and did some digging.

She found tons of cans which she recycled, a printer/copier/scanner, some galvanized metal pipes, wood, table legs, a comforter and pillow that she washed and gave to the homeless shelter. The pillowcase had $207 in it. Since she and her mom didn’t feel comfortable in keeping it, they split it up and gave it to five people they knew who could use it. They found some other things too, but those were the most unique.

Upcycling has become Kayla’s passion which she tries to share with others through her blog as she writes about her experiences with dumpster diving and posts tutorials for the projects that she’s made.

Whenever she is asked about why she dumpster dives, Kayla says, “People always say that I’m giving them a repurposed life, but I say that the things I’ve collected have given me a life.”