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Just Like That
Withered…dry…dead. The one chance we had at surviving was gone. It had been sent from Earth to warn us of the dangers of our ways, but we didn’t listen. We all thought it was some kind of prank. It talked of famine, drought, and death. All things we never had to worry about until now.
I can still remember the first time I saw it. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I wasn’t sure if it was male or female, but I knew it was amazing. It was the size of a small child, and had a face worn of time. It wore clothes of the softest silk, and the purest white. Its shoes were lined with vibrant jewels that could blind you if you looked at them for too long.
“Who are you?” I asked
“It matters not who I am, but why I came,” It replied
“Well, why did you come?”
“I came to warn you of the path you have chosen to take.”
“What do you mean?”
“You choose to harvest my crops, but do not replant them. You cut down my trees to make your useless trinkets, but do not think of the lives that rely on them-”
“The trees are not your property either, so you have no right to tell use to change!” I aggressively pointed out.
“The trees belong to me, for I am their creator. You use them for pleasure, not for life.” It said calmly.
“So is that why you came? To make us stop cutting your trees and eating your food?”
“I came not to talk about my troubles, but to show you that if you continue these patterns, yours will be the hand that causes life itself to cease.”
I looked at my hand in fear that he was right.
“My hand? How do you know? You don’t even know who I am,” I exclaimed
“I have known you your whole life.”
“Your name is Richard Globe, and your parents are Jason and Anne Globe. You broke your arm when you were just nine years-old, and when you were in high school you developed feelings for a young woman named Kaylen. Ever since you could see yourself in the mirror, you have wanted to be tall, muscular, handsome, charming, and smart, which is exactly what you are. Shall I go on?”
“But how?” I asked in disbelief.
And with an expression of worry on its face it stated, “This is the first warning of three, and I trust you will heed them…be careful.” Then it vanished. At first I thought maybe I was dreaming, that I had slipped throughh the grasp of reality and followed my thoughts into worlds unknown. “It couldn’t have been a dream,” I said to myself. “It was so real.”
The next month after we had finished our harvest and wood gathering, I went for a walk. I went down to the river to wash up, and I noticed the river was lower than usual. Suddenly I saw the reflection of a dim light in the water. I whipped around to see its origin, and there it was. The same creature I had seen the month before, but this time it looked like it had been deprived of food and water. The silky clothes it wore were stained, and its shoes were missing jewels. It looked up at me.
“What happened? Has someone mistreated you?” I asked, feeling a rush of anger.
“Yes,” it replied.
I felt my face grow red, and my fists grow tense. “Who did it? I’ll teach them to mess with people, well things, smaller than them.”
“It was you, Richard. You and your village. You harvested and cut my trees and crops. You drank more that you needed from my river-”
“But, we have done that for ages.”
“Then for ages you will suffer. Just as I have. My rivers are going dry; my crops are struggling to grow back, as well as my trees. This is all your doing Richard.”
I felt my heart go cold.
“My doing? Just make them grow back! You can do that can’t you?”
“I don’t have as much strength as I used to. Doing that would kill me.”
“I don’t care! We have lived centuries without you, and we will continue to do so.”
With a mournful look on his face the creature earnestly pleaded, “This is your second warning.” Then it vanished.
The next month the crops and trees grew back healthier than ever. While our entire village harvested and gathered wood, all I could think about was seeing the creature again. On my way home with the last stock of corn, I saw pure white doves circling above. I went to go see the cause of this unusual event. When I reached the area where the birds were, my heart dropped. There it was lying on the ground. I saw it struggle, and I rushed over to its side. It expanded its lungs gingerly attempting to avoid pain.
“This is your final warning,” it gasped
“Is this a joke?”
“I have used the last of my strength to grow the crops, as you so viciously demanded.”
“So this is my fault?”
“It was you doing.”
“NO! I had nothing to do with your stupid decision to kill yourself growing the crops for us this month! You have no right to blame this on me!”
“Richard this is your third and final warning. My body is made of seeds from the earth. You can choose to bury me and keep the crops alive by planting seeds in this area after you harvest, or you can walk away, leaving both me and the world around you to wither and die.”
It looked up with a shimmer of hope in its eyes, and with its last breath it said, “Respect.”
I turned around and began to walk away. I thought about what it had muttered as it lay dying. Respect. Respect? What did it mean? I have respect! It didn’t know what it was talking about! Suddenly the sky grew dark, and a bright star-like shine appeared behind me. I looked back. It was floating in mid-air staring at me. I could feel all the pain I had caused it. I began to feel nauseated and screamed, “Make it stop!”
Just as quickly as it had appeared it jolted up into the sky and vanished into the atmosphere taking everything except for us with it.
Now, three months later. I haven’t had the luxury of eating or drinking. I think about the word it told me just before it died. Respect. I predict I will perish soon, and can only pray to have a merciful death, but I know I don’t deserve it. There is only one thing I wish to learn before I inevitably die. I wish to know the true meaning of the word Respect, and on the tragic day of my death with my last breath I will mutter, “I do respect you.”