Can anyone understand the person who tosses a plastic water bottle into a crystal stream? Or perhaps, one who chucks a cardboard French fry holder aside some shrubs? Do we change the channel when that commercial airs about using dish detergent to wash oil gunk off a duckling’s feathers?
I don’t. I just don’t. I do.
When I was a child, nature inspired stories within me, and little did I know then, but the love of stories would determine my future career and passion. We lived on a farm in a small near-the-seaside New Jersey town and the forest adjoining our property was lush with foliage. I would venture out alone and wander for hours and hours, find an open clearing, lay down atop the leaves and twigs, which crackled beneath my weight. The trees formed a perimeter, like some protective wall from the outside world. I’d gaze up at the clouds and see characters with flowing hair or facial features. They’d speak inside my head. They had lives and emotions. The trees talked, too, as did the harmless creatures that poked their heads into my “green room” and then took off. Idyllic. Like the fairy tales I’d read about in my Golden Books.
Decades later, I’d find out about what was going on only a mile or two away. The chemical company in town was burying barrels of nasty into open pits resulting in acid-laced wastewater leaking into the river and people’s wells. Clusters of cancer welled up as a result of this apparent corporate greed and disregard. Children died. Whenever a cancer patient was admitted to the nearby hospital, nurses could guess where they lived.
But just as alarming is what is happening globally. More than eight million metric tons of plastic pollute our oceans every year, according to the Ocean Conservatory. The contamination of the Flint River in Michigan resulted in high lead-blood levels and allegations of lead poisoning, skin lesions, and Legionnaires disease. Day by day, new legislation is easing previous environmental safeguards.
It is all of this disturbing news that brought me to create the story “Never Left.” Writers often use the “what if” scenario, so I asked myself: What if environmental dangers progressed, and we did nothing? What would our town, our country, our world look like? Now take it to the extreme, the max, and present it as the impossible; but maybe it’s not. Make it real and get readers scared.
I hope you are.
Lori M. Myers is an award-winning writer, Pushcart Prize nominee, and Broadway World Award nominee of creative nonfiction, fiction, and plays. Her work has been published in more than 45 national and regional magazines, journals, and horror and mainstream anthologies. She is the author of Crawlspace and other stories of dark fiction and horror. Lori is an adjunct professor of writing and literature and lives in New York.