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Coming Back to Kim

Copyright Cameron Gallant, 2015

This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual people and events is strictly coincidental.

 

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Coming Back to Kim

 

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Coming Back to Kim

 

Kim felt a rising sense of elation as her autonomous jet ski jumped out of the crisp, sparkling blue water. She was going so fast. Wind hounded on her AeroSki suit, pressing her against her seat like a giant hand— as if it were concerned she might fall off. It was the first day of spring break, and Kim, a college freshman, was out riding the surf with her friends. The sun beat joyfully on their necks as I watched them frolic innocently in nature’s waterpark.

The jet ski slowed in the water, sending a cascade of turbulent water behind it, before coming to a stop. Beside Kim, several other jet skis drew parallel with her own as her friends appeared, whooping and cheering and exclaiming how great it was to be out on the bay.

“Which ride next?” I heard Kim ask. The jet skis used Android Satellites to direct a number of autonomous rides users could select via smartphone. The autonomous rides had been specifically designed to deliver a maximum sense of thrill and satisfaction.

“I don’t know, but I’m so thirsty I’d drink the ocean” Ted said.

Kim unstrapped the backpack she was wearing and removed its contents. Sweet Kim, always so prepared. She had stored me, along with many other bottles of Sunkist, in it for the day’s adventures. Kim tossed the other bottles away to her friends, keeping only one—one she cradled in her tender hands. That bottle was me.

Kim unscrewed my lid and sighed with satisfaction as she drank the sweet nectar I held. She was the one whose soft fingers wrapped around me, embracing me in a thankful hug. And then she was the one to end that moment, for whatever reason. When she and her friends were refreshed and ready to continue their adventure, they moved on. They left me and the other empty bottles floating longingly in the surf, waiting… Waiting for a reprieve we knew would never come.

A ceaseless journey awaited us. Drifting endlessly in the forever sea.

***

My body was no longer the body I once had. The shiny bottle and glossy label were no more. My job was no longer to entice potential buyers, but to drift invisibly as billions of plastic nanoparticles, caught in the currents of the North Atlantic Gyre. The drift seemed eternal. It had been forty years since Kim had tossed me thoughtlessly into the bay.

No, not thoughtlessly. She must have had a reason. I thought, trying to deny the doubts that had long since infused me. Humans always have reasons for what they do.

When I was first created, they made me the way I was intentionally. So that they could sell more Sunkist and say, “Dissolves up to twenty times faster than traditional plastic bottles” in vibrant letters on my label. That was my manufacturer’s reason… But what was Kim’s?

Although I remained in my pensive drift, I never could bring myself to blame Kim for my predicament. She was funny and kind. Merely thinking about her acted as a ward which protected me from the horrors I saw in the great trash vortex the current swept me into— a colossal graveyard brimming with plastic wastes of every kind.

I saw bottles from the 1900’s as I drifted—they were formed long before Disolvbottle Technologies was created and thus remained whole, some still with their glossy labels and colored caps. I looked at them and it was bittersweet. I saw islands of plastic bags which seemed to wave and beckon to me like great masses of jellyfish. And I saw rubber toys, six-pack rings, old hair combs and thousands of other deserted objects, drifting in eerie silence.

Mostly though, as I moved where the current swept me, I saw trillions of nanoparticles just like me. I could no longer tell what any of them came from, only what their futures would be—many more years of melancholy drifting and forgetting who they were. I wondered if any particles from the other bottles Kim had brought to the bay drifted before me, helpless and forgotten. I saw some zooplankton and an occasional fish along my journey, but there was always an abundance of plastic nanoparticles.

My drift continued. Every day I would try fruitlessly to convince myself Kim had a reason for tossing me into the ocean’s hungry jaws.

Eventually, I became just as bland as the trillions of other plastic nanoparticles in the Gyre. I had lost my faith, and with it, my desire to live. I was this way until fate, or perhaps love, brought Kim and me back together.

***

Humans are addicted to plastic. At first, I only suspected it, although now I am certain. It is through the human ingenuity to satisfy this addiction that nanoparticles every day find their way back to mankind.

I was swallowed. By mere fate, the fish of the sea engulfed parts of me as they tried to feed on the plankton that drifted around the particles I had become. Using my size to my advantage, I quickly diffused through the fish’s stomach linings and into their bloodstreams so I would not be eliminated from their bodies. Carried by their bloodstreams, I then traveled to every part of their bodies and settled, nestling in their cells.

Over time, my hosts collected more and more of my nanoparticles, as did the jellies and other creatures of the sea. Many of these hosts were eventually eaten by creatures further up the food chain, and through these actions, the concentration of my nanoparticles within my hosts grew.

Eventually, man fished me out of the sea. I was hidden within the fish he caught and brought inland to be sold.

~

It was a glorious night, the night of our reunion. A gentle breeze blew softly, carrying an inviting scent of baked seafood and celebration.

Kim was at the restaurant that night, smiling just the way I remembered and holding the hand of a young child. A grandchild? It was the first time I had seen her in over forty years, although she still looked just as good as she had that day on the bay. She had aged well.

I was served to Kim on a delicate platter in the dim romantic light of the restaurant. I could smell flowers. She raised me to her mouth, her gentle lips brushing against me as she indulged, and I realized that I had actually smelled her fragrance. There were others who ended up eating nanoparticles of mine in different cuts of fish; however, Kim was the only one who mattered to me.

I was overjoyed. Beside myself with gratitude, I thanked mankind for his ingenuity. And I thanked Kim and Disolvbottle Technologies for their foresight. Upon ingestion, I finally understood why Kim had left me in the bay.

Once ingested, I quickly diffused through Kim’s membranes and into her bloodstream. I wiggled my way through the semi-permeable membranes of her cells. Because of Kim’s actions, clever Kim, she allowed me to come back and live within her for the rest of her life. By discarding me into the bay, she had let the ocean transform me so I could stay with her until the very end.

Occasionally, as my nanoparticles diffused through her membranes, I felt as if I might have disrupted a cell slightly, in some way, but I paid little attention. I embraced Kim from the inside, and she welcomed me home as a friend.

***

Kim and Ted held their breaths in the sterile white room that smelled of disinfectants. They were awaiting the Telomere Scan results to determine whether Kim had malignant cancer. The scanner tested for extra telomerase in somatic cells and abnormally short telomeres, which are common indications of cancer. If cancerous cells were present, the scanner then analyzed what areas they were spread over and what sort of tumor they created to determine whether the cancer was malignant.

After several moments of tense silence, the lady dressed in white reappeared, clutching an envelope. Her face was as white as her attire. Silently, she handed the envelope to Kim and Ted.

Hands shaking, Ted opened the envelope, showing it to Kim. Immediately Kim began to weep and Ted held her consolingly, fighting back his own emotions.

The lady spoke to Kim, “It’s only skin cancer, dear. Nothing incurable with the right treatment. Something’s just caused your cells to mutate. It’s possible you may have just had too much exposure to sunlight. If I were you…”

Kim cut the doctor off. She talked in short gasps amidst her tears. “Impossible, I’ve been out jet skiing and boating, yes, but I’ve always worn my Areoski suit which gives me SPF 100 UV Protection. I couldn’t have been in the sun too much!”

And I too wept, deep within Kim’s very cells as a collection of nanoparticles. No Kim, sweet girl, I understand. You were Sunkist.


Coming Back to Kim

Topic: Ocean Soup Time: Futuristic Word Count: 1496 This story participated in Future Problem Solving Program International's 2013 International Conference. SAMPLE: (341 words of 1496) Kim felt a rising sense of elation as her autonomous jet ski jumped out of the crisp, sparkling blue water. She was going so fast. Wind hounded on her AeroSki suit, pressing her against her seat like a giant hand— as if it were concerned she might fall off. It was the first day of spring break, and Kim, a college freshman, was out riding the surf with her friends. The sun beat joyfully on their necks as I watched them frolic innocently in nature’s waterpark. The jet ski slowed in the water, sending a cascade of turbulent water behind it, before coming to a stop. Beside Kim, several other jet skis drew parallel with her own as her friends appeared, whooping and cheering and exclaiming how great it was to be out on the bay. “Which ride next?” I heard Kim ask. The jet skis used Android Satellites to direct a number of autonomous rides users could select via smartphone. The autonomous rides had been specifically designed to deliver a maximum sense of thrill and satisfaction. “I don’t know, but I’m so thirsty I’d drink the ocean” Ted said. Kim unstrapped the backpack she was wearing and removed its contents. Sweet Kim, always so prepared. She had stored me, along with many other bottles of Sunkist, in it for the day’s adventures. Kim tossed the other bottles away to her friends, keeping only one—one she cradled in her tender hands. That bottle was me. Kim unscrewed my lid and sighed with satisfaction as she drank the sweet nectar I held. She was the one whose soft fingers wrapped around me, embracing me in a thankful hug. And then she was the one to end that moment, for whatever reason. When she and her friends were refreshed and ready to continue their adventure, they moved on. They left me and the other empty bottles floating longingly in the surf, waiting... Waiting for a reprieve we knew would never come. A ceaseless journey awaited us. Drifting endlessly in the forever sea. Summary: (Warning! May contain spoilers!) Kim and her friends are jet skiing during a college vacation. During the day's adventure, after drinking a beverage, Kim discards the empty bottle into the water. Over the next forty years, the bottle melancholy drifts and dissolves into trillions of plastic nanoparticles. Throughout this time, the bottle wonders why Kim, the bottle's love, deserted it. Slowly, some of the nanoparticles are eaten by fish which are preying on the zooplankton around the particles. These particles become more and more concentrated as they slowly move up the food chain. Eventually, some of the bottle’s nanoparticles are brought inland and reunite with Kim, however, not without an unforeseen consequence.

  • ISBN: 9781370434299
  • Author: Cameron Gallant
  • Published: 2016-09-06 02:35:07
  • Words: 1538
Coming Back to Kim Coming Back to Kim