Trash Flash

If you decided to write on yesterday’s writing prompt, feel free to post your work below! Here’s a short flash piece I wrote on the topic of the darker side of the green movement…

Trash Flash

I checked my watch again, trying not to be obvious. The whole point was to blend until just the right moment. It was a thrill, not knowing who in the crowd was with us, who against us. Fingering the Guy Fawkes mask in my pocket reminded me that I was about to make a decision I couldn’t reverse. Once my data went out over the net, I was going to be labeled for life–but we had all agreed, this was a necessary demonstration.

The watch beeped and I pulled out the mask and put it on. It was useless against the medical scanners that littered the city, informing the populace of impending waves of rhinovirus or elevated sodium levels. They interacted with the biochips in your hand and sent you email updates on your blood pressure. The same biochips tracked your carbon footprint across the city and you were taxed for every kilowatt of energy you consumed. But it made us feel a little better, faceless youth to represent all of us.

I shrugged off the long jacket I wore to expose a dress made entirely of trash I had pulled out of the dump, the last things we hadn’t found a way to recycle or re-purpose. It’s mostly styrofoam packing peanuts sewn carefully on to trash bags. I thought it was rather stylish and set off the white and black mask well.

Our generation never had a choice. Our grandparents fucked up the world and our parents tried to fix it the best they knew how. No, that’s a lie. Our parents tried to fix it the best way that made money. Thus the biochips, and the medical scanners, and the children named after brands, the taxes and the industrial Roomba style ‘bots that are both street sweeper and air scrubber.

Out entire lives were monitored, measured, decided before we even cried our first breath. If you used too much electricity at work and overclocked your processor, you were likely unable to turn on your lights at home because you had exceeded your energy quota for the day. If you ate too many calories at breakfast, you would have to skip lunch. If you were backed up from all the regenerated soy protein you were fed in the cafeterias and hadn’t taken a shit in a day, you received an email informing you a prescription for laxatives had been placed for you at the local pharm’.

Around me, all of the youth my age in the square had ditched their coats and pulled out the masks. They were dressed in rags and take out food containers and duct tape. Someone set up a retro boombox and the song “Alice’s Restaurant” blared from the speakers. I had practiced the routine so often that I slipped into it effortlessly, all thirty of us moving in sync, working our way to the fountain (pouring out recycled rain and grey water) at the center of the square. We knew that all over the country, other kids were doing the same thing. When we reached the fountain, we started climbing until we were hanging off of it’s five tiers, the chlorinated water soaking our trash.

An alarm started beeping at the center of the fountain and its maintenance ‘bot came out to collect whatever rubbish had drifted into the basin. No one threw coins anymore…we didn’t use coins anymore. I sat at the top of the fountain, grinning beneath my mask and trying to remove some of the excess water from my hair. The adults stopped what they were doing, in their re-purposed fiber suits, some filming us with their phones, most standing idle for the show.

The song came to a stuttering end and segued into an electronic dubstep beat. I stood up and let out a yell, starting a cascade of noise and movement down the fountain. When the music hit a break, we froze until it hit the double time and went nuts, ripping at each other’s costumes–shreds of plastic and styrofoam and the odd bit of cloth dropping soddenly into the water or being flung at the observers, most of whom were now leaving as fast as they could. It was one thing to climb into a fountain. Another thing entirely to…they wouldn’t even be able to bring themselves to say it. Litter. We were littering, litterers, letting things fall were they may, unconcerned with the consequences of our actions, for once. Free.

They were bound up and restricted; their entire lives were dictated by their allotments of carbon and electricity and calories. They rationed everything so carefully. The few who were left standing around were on their phones now, calling the tip line about the youth committing horrific acts in the water in hopes that they might get a little extra in their rations next month for being conscientiousness citizens.

We were mostly bare now, stripes reddening our skin from the fingernails of people we had never met, the water getting cold around our ankles. When the music finally stopped, we scattered, some pausing to grab their coverings, others reveling in the freedom of the wind drying their skin.

I slipped off my mask and left it in the fountain and saw the one maintenance ‘bot choking on a particularly large piece of plastic. I pulled it out and dropped it on the ground and the ‘bot sped to the next piece of rubbish, trying to force it down into it’s overflowing trash receptacle. The whisper sounds of more ‘bots was getting louder and I watched five of the larger street sweepers come into the now empty square. Within minutes, all of the trash was gone and I was left sitting on the edge of the fountain, my recycled pop-bottle fiber coat wrapped around me to stop my shivering.