A Disgruntled Salad Stick
A short compilation of diary entries detailing the sad, bitter life of a sea cucumber and a lesson learned along the way.
It's not a bad view from the sea floor, I must admit. Mountains of coral form underwater forests in the sand that sway with the currents of warm tropical waters. Light shimmers in from the surface, illuminating the schools of fish which reflect every colour under the sun. Of course, I only know this from word of mouth because I unfortunately don't have any eyes. It could be an absolute s#%&*@!e for all I know.
It's because of things like this that I'm constantly thinking, "Why did I have to be born a sea cucumber?". Out of all the beings that inhabit this world, I had to become a literal bottom feeder. I mean, the algae and plankton don't taste too bad but it's the principle of it that frustrates me. No one’s favourite animal is a sea cucumber. When human children ask each other what their favourite animal is, I can guarantee not a single one of them has ever said it’s a sea cucumber. Why would they? We’re literally named after a salad ingredient. If that doesn’t scream ‘lame' I don’t know what does.
I can’t count how many times I’ve wished I were born something cooler, like a shark or a manta ray. They exhibit such grace and finesse with their streamline bodies and powerful motions. But no, I’m just a sad, bitter sea cucumber. The only human attention I’ll ever receive is when I inevitably wash up onto a beach and am scooped up to be used as a comedic prop by an immature teenager to rather distastefully pretend I’m an extension of his genitalia. Humans are so vile. What a life I live.
I suppose the icing on the cake for this miserable existence is that I’m surrounded by an excess of mind-numbingly boring creatures, most of whom are relentlessly stupid. Those who aren’t as dull as a dead shrimp are so incredibly rude. Have you ever tried having a conversation with a sea urchin? No? Well don’t waste your time, they’re covered in thorns for a reason. Maybe I'm no better...
I suppose I won't have to put up with all of this for much longer anyway thanks to the chaotic destruction brought on by the humans. They seem to be visiting this area more and more now thanks to the new tourism and fishing boom, and with them has come a whole new wave of destruction.
This morning, I heard Britney was run over by a speedboat. She was just floating around, doing whatever the f*%$ it is that jellyfish do, and then BANG! Just like that she was shredded up and spat out the rear end of the motor like a spilled packet of shredded cheese. It’s kind of shocking to think just how quickly your life can come to an end. Poor Britney, she was one of the good ones. Anyway, that's all I have to complain about at the moment (ok, I won't lie to you, it's probably not).
I literally just spent today drifting around the reef's floor munching on plankton. The monotony was excruciating. I did, however, have a very brief conversation with a passing crab called Gary at one point. Apparently a lot of fish and crab species have been disappearing from the area recently, and survivors have told horrifying stories of human fishing ships. I have a feeling I won't be getting much sleep tonight.
So something awful happened today, even for my standards.
It was early in the morning, probably around five or six o'clock (I don't know for sure, I'm a sea cucumber). I was busy doing top secret sea cucumber stuff - kidding, I was just aimlessly floating around on the sea floor eating a random algae patch I found - when suddenly, a massive anchor dropped from above, smashing a giant chunk of coral to pieces only metres away from me, and creating a cloud of sand in the process.
Everyone in the vicinity scattered immediately. For a few seconds it was absolute chaos, with fish and crabs, and tentacles flying everywhere, and sand whipping at my skin. Then, in an instant, everything went eerily still and quiet. The ocean was silent aside from the slow, rhythmic flow of the water. It wasn't until the sand settled and everyone started floating back over to investigate, that I found out the anchor had landed directly on top of Gary. I only knew that it had happened because someone yelled out, "Oh my god, that anchor landed directly on top of Gary".
I think most normal sea creatures would've felt sad but for me the whole incident was just a big fat reminder that I couldn't see anything. Ok, I admit, I was kind of sad, Gary was a good guy. Nature is brutal and creatures die all the time, hell, some of us even kill each other, but when it's a human-caused death, it always hits a little harder.
I'd like to end this entry by saying I'll do my best to avenge your death, Gary. I'm not quite sure how I'll do it, but it will probably involve puking my own organs out of an orifice (don't worry, they regenerate). That's about as far as I've gotten at the moment, it's a work in progress.
Well, we had Gary's funeral today. And by 'funeral', I mean everyone took turns dismantling Gary's half crushed corpse to take home for lunch. Nothing goes to waste in the ocean. It probably sounds kind of sad and obsessive, and maybe it is, but during the funeral all I could think about was how much better Gary's life must have been compared to mine.
He was no shark or manta ray, sure, but he had eyes and limbs, he could admire the beauty of the reef first hand, he could pick up and hold things, and he could scratch his ass when it itched. Oh the luxury he must have lived. I'm so bitter with the thought of my existence, I almost caught myself wishing that anchor had hit me instead of Gary - depressing, I know.
My neighbour, Stacy, says I need to be more grateful for what I have. That's easy for her to say though, she's literally an octopus. She was born with eyes, eight limbs (or whatever the f&#k they are), super intelligence, and the ability to fit into and under just about anything. Talk about privilege. Meanwhile, what do I have? Bad luck and a name that suggests I was discovered by the most uncreative and dull scientist to ever walk the planet. So naturally I told Stacy to "Go shove it," after she gave me that bullshit comment, and she responded with something like, "Oh give it a rest you disgruntled salad stick," which kind of just reinforced my insecurity but it is what it is I suppose.
I had a nightmare last night. There was a storm, and I was washed up on a beach - paralysed and unable to move for days. I was just laying there on a damp bed of sand. The heat of the sun was burning at my skin, and I could hear the croaky voice of a pubescent human as he came towards me. Suddenly he scooped me up and called out to his friends with a goofy laugh “Hey guys, look at me". I shuddered as my nightmare unfolded before me, and all I could think was, "I wish I were a shark".
Then I woke up. For a split second, I was relieved, until I remembered who and where I was, and the monotonous life I live...
On top of the nightmare, I still pass that anchor everyday, and it gives me the creeps. I may hate this ocean and everything in it, but the idea of my own mortality scares me to death.
Not to be dramatic, but I thought I was going to die today. The morning started off like any other: eat some plankton, excrete some waste, swear at a few fish, and imagine what it would be like to flip off my neighbour if I had hands. Boring, I know. That was until around midday when the nets started sweeping through the reef. The screams were deafening as everyone scattered, trying to escape. But our efforts were futile, those of us who escaped the first and second waves were captured by the third and dragged to the surface.
In a matter of seconds I was dumped onto the ship's deck, landing on top of mounds of fish. It was horrible, fins and scales were everywhere, and everyone kept screaming out for help. After what felt like a lifetime, another net load of fish was dumped onto the deck in front of me, but this time, there was a shark inside. Even a shark wasn't enough to stand up to the humans and evade capture. I'd always admired them for their brute force, their independence and the fact that they had a rugby union team named after them. Not that I know what that is, but the concept sounds nice.
Anyway, I guess sharks are kind of a big deal to humans as well, because almost immediately after it was dumped, several humans surrounded it, pinned it down, and butchered it - alive. I'll spare you the details, but it was graphic.
You're probably wondering at this point, "How do you know all this happened if you don't have any eyes?". Well, because the fish next to me saw it and basically scream-narrated the entire thing to me. The humans didn't stop with the shark though, fish after fish they began massacring the the piles of flopping, screaming, scales. I swear I thought I was next, but there was nothing I could do but sit there and listen to it all unfold.
That was until one of the humans picked me up and, with an offensively disgusted voice said, "Yuck, we don't need any of these in with the fish," before throwing me back overboard. I didn't even have time to be offended by his comment because within seconds I was back home in the water. I couldn't believe it, I was free.
For a small moment after I hit the water, a shimmer of gratitude flickered through me, and I actually felt thankful to be a sea cucumber. Perhaps not being desirable was the greatest gift I ever received. If I were a shark, I would never have made it off that deck. It got me thinking, maybe, just maybe, life is what you make it. Maybe, my stupid neighbour, Stacy was right, and that gratitude was all I needed in order to obtain everything I ever wanted. Perhaps life as a sea cucumber isn't so bad. I mean, I can literally spew my internal organs out of my anus, regenerate them, and survive. I'm like a marine superhero, and the humans don't want to touch me. I'm basically invincible, so I suppose I have that to be grateful for.
Ha, just kidding! I had you for a second though. I still hate it here, and I'm still going to tell Stacy I hope she drowns once I finally get home. But at least I'll get a small spark of enjoyment from that. So in a sense, I guess I have something to look forward to and to be grateful for. Anyway, that's all for the soppy stuff. All I can say for sure is that I no longer wish I were a shark.
Your favourite disgruntled salad stick.
About the Creator
J. R. Lowe
By day, I'm a PhD student, by night.... I'm still a PhD student, but sometimes I procrastinate by writing on Vocal. Based in Brisbane, Australia.
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