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Why do the plovers fly away? - Chapter 33

The sea was wet as wet could be, The sands were dry as dry. You could not see a cloud, because No cloud was in the sky: No birds were flying overhead — There were no birds to fly.


The Walrus and the Carpenter Were walking close at hand; They wept like anything to see Such quantities of sand: ‘If this were only cleared away,’ They said, ‘it would be grand!’


From: The Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis Carroll

 

Gubbins the Chubbins was a round black cat with a bristly white chin and a meow like a

telephone ring. Emerging from the crowd of adoring fans, Halima strapped Gubbins into his leash and followed him down the beach to a large boulder, where he promptly flopped onto his side and started licking between his toes.

“Mrrrrrrrrrrow?” said Gubbins.

One teenage Gubbins fan nearly fainted. The lad was just too precious.

Halima had called her mam and Mrs. Bulmer had caught a lift to the beach from her

excitable elderly neighbour, superstar Gubbins and extra supplies in tow. Halima had posted a photo captioned, “Come meet Gubbins and save the ocean!” and three new volunteers had arrived within minutes. Each new volunteer posted their own photos, drawing more and more attention to the cause. #gubbinsagainstbigoil and #gubbinsforcleanseas were already trending on social media.


One of the first to arrive was Bakul, who turned out to be a Gubbins superfan.

“You know Gubbins the Chubbins’ mam???” they crowed.

“Er, she goes to school with us. We’ve known each other since we were seven,” said

Mel, fiddling with the sequins on her bodice.

Bakul had worn a special outfit for the occasion: pale blue button-down patterned with

cats and loose brown trousers splotched with whales. Not only did they supply order to the

slightly chaotic scene at the beach, they also had the brilliant idea of bringing a bluetooth

speaker. After much hemming and hawing, they finally settled on a 2000s pop playlist, but not before Rickrolling everyone first. It felt like a real party. The volunteers finished the 100 meter transect in no time and kept on cleaning.

“Good work, everyone! Let’s turn up the heat a little bit! The chocolate bar I just found in

my pocket goes to the person who brings me the weirdest object in the next ten minutes! Go! Go! Go!” Bakul cried.

Zayed won the competition with an Ian McKellen action figure. Emani took second with a

functioning toy car, which she gifted to Mel for George.


Jackie arrived with Roger in tow as the Bulmers and their friends were getting ready to

head home. Mel heard her before she saw her.

“Halima, that camera work was phenomenal! We’ve got to come back and do a video

together tomorrow...Aye, I think you could find volunteers all week long. People are mad for Gubbins, you know. Oh, Mel, there you are!”

Ignoring the building ache in her back, Mel jumped up and raced across the beach to

see her friend. Her huge skirt flapped as she ran.


“I’m so happy you’re here! And you too, Roger. I hope I didn’t ruin your evening.”

Roger cast her a look that said he had only come because of Jackie. Mel scowled right

back at him.

Jackie pulled her aside. “So how was the party? Did anything happen?”

“I don’t think we were even there for half an hour before we left. Also, I need to stay at

your house tonight.”

“Fine by me. So you and Anne–”

“We haven’t really discussed anything–”

“So you don’t know how she feels about you?”

“I mean, I think she likes me. But I haven’t asked–”

“Wait, so you’re telling me you’ve been with this girl all night, gone on a cute,

spontaneous, planet-saving adventure with her, and you haven’t even talked to her?”

“What? I’ve talked to her!”

“Stop. Just stop.”

“What are you doing?”

“Have you even eaten dinner yet today? Mel, you need to take a break,” said Jackie.

Loudly.

Ben looked up. “You haven’t had a break yet? Mel, go sit down. Mrs. Bulmer left a plate

of baklava.”

“You look like you could use a break, too, Anne. Hand me that bag of rubbish. I’ll take

over for a wee bit,” said Jackie.

Mel and Anne found the leftover baklava and seated themselves near the other

volunteers. Too close for Jackie’s liking.

“Mel, luv, I know you’re being polite and all, but that headache of yours won’t get any

better until you get away from the speakers,” Jackie yelled.

“I can turn off the music,” said Bakul.

“No! No need for that. Why don’t you just go over to that spot you like by the cliffs and

get away from all this commotion. Anne, why don’t you go with her just to make sure she’s

alright.”

Jackie could be a hypnotist when she wanted to be. Mel and Anne walked slowly down

the beach. It had finally stopped raining. The first stars were emerging in an indigo sky. Anne stopped beneath the cliffs and ran her hand along the rocks.

“Did she just trick us into being alone together on a beautiful beach at sunset?”

“Aye,” said Mel. She laughed nervously. “It appears she did.”


About the author: Ella Shively is a writer and wildlife technician in northern Florida. You can find her online at https://www.instagram.com/shivelywrites/.


About this chapter's featured poet: Lewis Carroll is the pseudonym of mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, which he adopted when publishing his famous children’s novels and nonsense verse.

The son of a Cheshire parson, Dodgson grew up in a large family which enjoyed composing magazines and putting on plays. In 1851, he went to Christ Church, Oxford. By 1855, he was a fellow (which necessitated celibacy), lecturing in mathematics. He occupied a tower in the college for the rest of his life. He wrote many books on mathematics and logic, and enjoyed inventing puzzles and games and playing croquet.

His love of paradox and nonsense and his fondness for small children led to the writing of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865), a story which he began while rowing Lorina, Alice, and Edith, the three small daughters of the College Dean H G Liddell, up the Thames for a picnic near Binsey.

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