Between the Gray

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The first few moments of your life are a scene from anyone else’s horror film. Sand pours out of your wet eyelids, moonlight bellydances towards you from that way, swerving forwards and back agin upon the water. You need to get there.

A beak in the gray. Clamped from above and below, you are lifted, tossed and caught at a new angle, flying hoops a shelled thing was never meant to fly, feeling two bars of toothless gluttony close certain as the dark and the moonlight from back to belly, until the moonlight is less certain than the rasping throat-materials inside the pelican and the pool of acid that follows, slow asphyxia as you diffuse before your own breaths. There was no one to warn you that your appearance was a sacrifice, but even your creator knew you were to be taken by some carefree gulp or another. It was you, and hundreds of others like you, coming out first, who paved the way for a select few of your siblings to slip by in the flood of food and end up uneaten in the waves that rock to and fro, a giant digestive system beaconing for more and ever more. Your life was scrap meat.

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Ridley sea turtles coordinate the laying of their eggs to a specific time and nesting site, so that all their overproduced broods come flooding down the sand at once. This improves the net survival rate of the newborns – only a third or so get the chance to be gulped down by birds, crocodiles, or shallow-water fish in the first few minutes of life; the rest are swept out to sea, a two-thirds success margin. Still, only one in every hundred of mother’s babies will survive to copulate in the name of the following generations – in one thousand female Ridleys, only ten will ever touch land again. And the cycle of death of the firstborn continues. Or so we should hope.

All this uncertainty and death would be sustainable – by a millimeter of life’s-breath – if it were not for the additional uncertainty provoked by the strange species which blasts false moons from the road shooting past and leaves stillborn plastic husks all around the sand, poisoning the sea turtles’ cycle from a would-be father’s fatal last meal to the inability of a young daughter to survive off coral blanched by petroleum-fueled heat cutting through the atmosphere. Evolution did not plan for six-pack diet sodas nor international flights, heavy iron lungs scratching the blue flesh of the sky and sending wishes of death to all that lives in the sea below. Humans are the newest child here, and according to reptilian tradition, we ought to be the first picked off by wizened waiting predators. The brave and bold are meat, torched alive to spare the average and unremarkable. Don’t be on guard for birds. Don’t get too attached to your air nor your moonlight. Or at the very least, buy that reusable bottle or electric car and vote for that microphone-gasper who claims to bring life for all. Nature has a fair and vehement Constitution, as well, one older than warm blood and waiting hungrily in the night for its fill and nothing more.

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Image credits in order of appearance:

By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

By Frankyboy5 (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

By Mntneerjay – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26585012

By O%27Brian Bill, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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