Trash Day This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   It was trash day again. I could hear small voices chattering in the distance and gradually growing louder. Three figures sluggishly dragged their feet through the wet, brown sand, laughing and blowing some type of thick fog out of their nostrils. All three of them had dark, straggly hair hanging halfway down their backs, but only one appeared to be female. They each dangled a glowing, white stick between two fingertips and held a small, plastic bag filled with all sorts of junk.

I cautiously watched them with one eye, as another figure slowly approached behind me. I recognized the soft, rustling sounds of her dark, sea-green garbage bag and the shuffling of worn-out slippers. I turned around and greeted Ruth, my beach buddy.

"Good morning, Gully," she replied, "How's the water doing today?"

I sadly looked out at the dark, dingy water that was polluted with tin cans, plastic supermarket bags, Styrofoam cups, half-empty juice bottles, oil-soaked rags and remains of unsuccessful flights of balloon messages. I didn't have to say a word. The answer to her question was quite clear ... or murky.

Ruth had been visiting me at the beach every week and picking up the trash deposited by disrespectful visitors. She would often find objects (which I would consider to be useless) and recycle them into beautiful works of art for me. Last week, Ruth made a table out of a detached bicycle wheel, an old kite and three empty Pepsi bottles. I realized that she didn't just create new things for the sake of art and recycling; she also did it out of friendship. Ruth had a pleasant face and even looked years younger than most of the visitors I've seen, but she seemed to carry more responsibility than any of them. I watched her as she stood bent over the dirty beach water for hours, picking up trash, all dripping wet. She then placed each object into her garbage bag and dragged the sack toward me when she was finished.

"Well, I guess I should go now," she said, "I'll see you next trash day, Gully."

On hearing these words, I caught a glimpse of the three people with the white breath again from the corner of my eye. I thought they had left during those few hours, but they had apparently returned with more garbage. I examined Ruth's face as she watched them throw all their litter on the deserted beach and continue to walk past us. It took a few more minutes before the rest of their trash was deposited into Ruth's garbage bag. She didn't say a word while she cleaned up their mess.

I knew she was trying to keep the beach clean for me. It just wasn't fair that she had to do all the work. I wondered if there were more people like her.

"I'll be back, Gully," said Ruth. "Next time I'll try to bring someone to look at that infected eye of yours. Just keep your head out of the dirty water.

With those words, she left. I wanted to say "Thank you" but I flapped my wings and gave her my best sea gull call instead. ^


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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