This was written for the Wattpad competition in collaboration with National Geographic – #planetorplastic – which seeks to inform the world about the dangers of plastics polluting our waters.
Diana maneuvered her dingy deftly through the murky waters. The Great Pacific Trash Heap was the last vestige of the plastic pollution which once threatened the world. Taking water samples every 100 feet, Diana wove her way through the pulsing mounds of plastic laden with yeast, basking in the silence of the open ocean and the smell of fermentation.
Her job was the only place she could think clearly, now that those who had fled the previously polluted shores of Santa Monica had returned.
She remembered her mom complaining, “Look at them, taking their children and their money to cleaner waters. What about us? What about our children? They think we should be grateful to get to live in the fancy shit they leave behind.”
“But mama,” an 8 yr old Diana responded, “we get to live in a mansion! It’s right on the ocean!”
“And the dead fish stinking up the beach, and the piles of plastic that litter the shore. We live in a slum encrusted with diamonds, baby.”
And so they did. They drank “diamond water,” with “micro-plastics to make you sparkle inside and out.”
Humans aren’t supposed to sparkle.
“I’m sorry Diana, there’s nothing we can do,” the surgeon said. “Your uterus was so full of plastic, I’m amazed you’re still alive. We took it out just in time.”
Plastics cost her her fertility, and subsequently her marriage. Probably a sizable chunk of her lifespan too.
And then a discovery was made; genetically modified yeast that ate plastic. A safe, natural cure for plastic pollution. Offering a life of plastic convenience, without environmental consequences.
Small “yeastbergs” bumped against her boat and stuck, breaking her reverie. Diana used a gloved hand to scrape at the yeast and it stuck to her glove. She shook her hand and bits flew off, landing on her face and arms. She removed her gloves to brush it off her skin.
“Gah!” She hissed.
Where she brushed the yeast off, her skin looked and felt burned.
“What the…” a painful sensation on her scalp cut her off. The yeast must be in her hair, but why did it hurt?
More yeast surrounded the boat, mounding up around it as if magnetically attracted.
Diana’s heart raced as she fumbled for the motor’s start button.
Vroom- chug chug… it stuttered.
She tried again
Vroom! Chug… it halted mid-turn. The yeast had glommed up the motor. She was stuck.
Her head was really hurting badly now. Her hands shook as she tried to send an SOS to the base ship. It was too hot, her hands too sweaty. The radio slipped out of her hands into a pool of yeast flowing over the sides of the boat. In an instant the plastic radio was gone.
A sharp pain in her hand alerted her to the yeast flowing onto the bench toward her.
The surgeons words echoed in her head, “…so full of plastic…”
“Oh God!” she whispered.