Clips from Time
2016, Middle School, Prose
August 23rd, year 1996 (7:00am). Sunshine Acres, the highly-esteemed farming company, is struggling. While their goal is to harvest organic (and delicious) produce, swarms of whiteflies have their tiny hearts set on destroying all traces of growth. The executive producers of the company have come together to discuss the pressing matter. Mr. Mark Mallin, Sunshine Acres’ co-founder, is up to speak next.
“Our oranges have been completely consumed by swarms of flies,” he begins heavily. “I know Sunshine Acres is supposed to be a company that grows organic food. However, we need to look at the facts. If this company wants to continue on, the only way to do so is to start applying pesticides to our plants.”
Mallin’s co-founder, Harry Deher, stands up in outrage. “This will not happen! Sunshine Acres was made to serve healthy, ORGANIC food to our people! How can we stand for such a thing? Think of our beliefs!”
Mark rebukes him, saying, “I know what I’m suggesting is a demoralizing solution to our problems. But the infestation of whiteflies has reached extreme levels of invasion on our oranges. Think like a businessman, Deher! We take over two-hundred acres of land! We’ll use an organic pesticide so we won’t harm the earth as much.”
Deher laughs incredulously. “Mallin, do you realize that organic pesticides can do more harm than good? If you researched the matter beforehand, you would have found that just because something comes from natural origins doesn’t mean it’s non-toxic or safe. I’m against this suggestion. Who agrees with me?”
No one did.
March 23rd, year 2003 (3:20 pm):
The sound of clacking heels reverberates through the house as Rebecca Graham makes her way to her husband. “Say that again.”
Ryan Graham swallows hard. “Stay calm…but there are weeds in our yard.” He assumes a panicked expression when his wife draws herself up threateningly. “But it’s alright! They’re not that noticeable! We can fix it right away…we just have to eliminate the weeds. I’ll pick up the herbicide, since you’re in no shape to be out of bed.” he says, eyeing her rather large paunch.
“Just because I’m bearing your child doesn’t mean I should be coddled and cooped up in my room all day,” Rebecca replies testily. “And I’m coming with you, so don’t argue.”
Two hours later, the couple buys their herbicide, and it’s applied to their expansive yard. A few days later, heavy rains visit Florida. Hurricanes are the norm, so nobody is too worried. There is minimal damage done to the Graham residence, but the herbicide is reapplied, since it was washed away during the storm.
April 7th, year 2016 (10:00 am). Ralph Graham sighs from exhaustion. He has just finished mowing their front lawn. Of course, like most preteens, he had to be bribed with five dollars before taking up the task. He turns around to admire his work. His triumph is short-lived when he realizes grass shavings are everywhere. Ralph, being a perfectionist, gets out a rake, and, as fast as possible, gathers up the shavings into a pile. What to do next? He can take time to put the leaves in a trash bag, or he can just put them down the gutter. Laziness rules over, and he quickly rakes the clippings into the gutter and goes back inside.
No Definite Time. Pip the dolphin squeaks in excitement, his sleek, graceful body swimming around. He and the rest of his pod are in search of food, which has become startlingly scarce. Places where schools of different species of fish were abundant now are devoid of life. Pip, being young and naïve, doesn’t let this bother him. Mama will find food, he thinks.
As he swims through the ocean, Pip notices that the other dolphins look weak. When was the last time they ate? He wonders, starting to get worried. Having gobbled down a couple of herring given to him just an hour before, he doesn’t feel the effects of starvation just yet. Then Maisy, one of the weaker dolphins, stops swimming altogether.
The others try to encourage her to keep going, but she doesn’t seem to be able to hear. After what seems like hours, she closes her eyes, never opening them again.
The pod laments the loss of sweet Maisy, but they keep going. As Pip swims away, he looks at the body of his dear friend. Why did she have to die?
March 25th, year 2026 (9:00 pm). There is a sea of shimmering scales as far as the eye can see. It’s almost beautiful…right until you realize what you’re looking at. Your eyes widen and your mouth drops open. Horror fills your entire being, and you feel the bile rise to your throat. Dead fish are everywhere. The beach is empty. No one wants to see the results of what they have done.
The quiet is disturbed. A car pulls up, and an elderly man steps out. He looks defeated. Said man sits down in the sand and stares at the destruction before him.
Years ago, our world was not like this, the man reminisces. Florida used to be known for its wonderful beaches. Tourists flocked to us. The economy was better than ever. Now, Florida has become dirt-filled and the water around it polluted beyond belief. Thousands of fish wash up on these beaches every day, and we could’ve stopped it when we had the chance. But we refused to believe what was in store for the future, and now the marine life has to pay for it…and so do we.
And I COULD HAVE STOPPED THIS! I, Harry Deher, could have convinced Mark and the executive producers that applying the herbicide was a bad idea! But I did nothing.
Deher reassures himself, thinking, but I didn’t know the effect all those pesticides would have. I didn’t know just how much Floridian land was covered by Sunshine Acres produce. I didn’t know that there would be huge tropical storms just a few months after I was fired! I didn’t know!
His conscience argues, you were Sunshine Acre’s co-founder, you fool! You knew how much land was covered by our oranges! It’s been thirty years! Think about the lasting effects on our oceans!
Deher gives up. He starts to leave, only turning around to whisper. “I’m so sorry.” Then, he leaves, and doesn’t look back.
April 9th, year 2026 (12:00 am). Ocean cries out in anguish. Her weak cries can barely be heard over the laments of the marine animals mourning over their lost family members. Why am I so polluted? Ocean’s body, normally glistening clean, is covered by a layer of grime and chemicals. Murky tears make a trail down her wan, teal-toned face. Once regal, standing tall and proud, Ocean is now kneeling, her arms clasped in prayer. Desperation is clear in her expression. Please…I need your help! It is you humans who have reduced me – once majestic – to a sniveling, uninhabitable home for marine life! I am no longer an oasis for the millions of plants and animals that use me as their habitat! Please, send help! You are killing us all!
June 5th, year 2026 (5:30 pm). Bridget and Hope Davidson, sisters and best friends, are currently seated at the front porch of their new beach house, sipping from tall glasses of pink lemonade. Hope wrinkles her nose. “I was thinking of going out for a swim, but then the smell hit me. It’s disgusting. Now I know why this beach house was so cheap.”
Bridget nods in agreement. The two stare out in the distance, watching murky brown waves crash against the grime-stained sand. All sorts of marine life wash up on the shore, ranging from nondescript minnows to mammoth sea turtles and sleek-bodied seals. Fish after fish, species after species. It’s a rather depressing scene.
“Why are all these fish dead? Why are they washing up against these beaches?” Hope startles as Bridget suddenly explodes. “Every day, species are dying out, and what are we doing about it? Nothing! Absolutely nothing!” Bridget takes a breath, and Hope is disturbed to see that her eyes are glistening with unshed tears. “I wish someone would do something to help,” she whispers.
“Bridget, YOU are someone. As for helping, let’s think about this logically. What sort of things pollute Florida waters the most? Pesticides. Remember the article in the newspaper about how the co-founder of Sunshine Acres was selling nonorganic oranges this entire time? The pesticides he put on the plants are bound to get into the oceans. And how many of the residents in Florida use pesticides? See, runoff is a huge problem here. We have to get people to stop using pesticides. We can grow our plants in a protected environment, with tightly-woven mesh coverings to keep flies out. Also, I learned in school that a large amount of oxygen actually comes from phytoplankton in the ocean, not from trees like most people think. What happens when our oceans finally become so polluted, that it affects our oxygen supply too? What do we do then? Luckily, we have an entire summer. We can start by making posters to raise public awareness, and we can talk to our neighbors about not using harsh chemicals on their weeds and such.”
Hope smiles. “I read somewhere that people use around 900 million pounds of pesticide in agricultural matters. If we can lower that even by a little bit, we’re helping the world!”
The sisters enthusiastically run back into the house, ready to save the world.
As a resident of Central Florida, I've been hearing news of thousands of fish washing up in places like Lake Okechobee, Cocoa Beach, and Cape Canaveral. There’s an unknown source killing these animals, which means we can't exactly figure out a solution to this pressing dilemma. The following quote is by Lily Tomlin: “I said, ‘Somebody should do something about that.’ Then I realized I am somebody.” There are people who genuinely don't care about the future of our world. However, the majority of us do want to help, but don't know the steps to take. We should realize that we are all capable of making a difference. We all have the potential to change the world; we just need the drive and determination to do so. Problems won't be solved if we turn our backs on them; ignoring them just makes finding a solution harder. By writing this prose, I hope to motivate people to do anything within the realm of possibility to help save our oceans.