"Tell it again," they said—
Just one more time.
Once upon a time, there was a cool day with breezes. The ocean waves rose and fell, and you could stand on the cliff and watch whales playfully spouting on some days, And on other days, you could see dolphins leaping in unison like ballerinas. Only in their proper seasons, of course. But it did happen, I swear.
Fisherman hung out in little clumps on certain auspicious spots upon the beach. They caught real fish and carried home three and four footers that didn't quite fit inside their red and white coolers.
The sand was white with specks of mica gleaming, In some places it was so spotless white that even in the sun it was cool to your feet. In those days, you could walk barefoot upon the beach. I know you don't believe me but it's true. Sand wasn't black and glossy then. And it didn't leave sticky smears on the bottom of your feet if you walked without footwear at the ocean's edge.
Children collected sand dollars, and made sure not to step on the occasional jellyfish. That too, in their own season. Kids could sit directly on the sand for hours at a time making sand castles with motes that ran with water each time the tide came in. Or they'd bury each other up to the neck in the cool, clean sand. They'd even taste the sand sometimes, not believing it was salty.
You could walk for miles without seeing swarms of flies busying themselves around the rotting seagulls, seals, and things called whales. A walk for the most part without the stench of death.
Sure, everything does die, of course, somehow, somewhere. Just not all at once, and not all together in piles—or strewn in lines that run for miles upon the shore.
There were long strands of seaweed with bulbous heads that we could whip around and play with, turn into instruments, or braid into baskets. It was okay to bring them home, let them dry, and even give them away as presents. We could put fruit in seaweed baskets and keep them on the kitchen table. And they weren't poison.
"You know the rest," I said, "about the glass and plastic bottles that weren't there, the cardboard wrappers, and paper coffee cups and plastic bags—that did not exist and did not blow about and sink beneath the sea..."
I know you don't believe me. And it's not a proper story, after all. For how can you tell a tale of things that weren't there?
"I like that story," one of them said. "It's funny."