Artwork: IKI '26


Author: SMR '25
As seen in: The Quixotic #

I was born with so much upward vertical velocity that by the time I plunged back through the roof my mother had gone home. I bounced off the delivery room’s floor and out the window, and I landed on the side of the road. The litter was my family. My mom was an empty Coke Zero bottle, and my dad – six turtle-choking plastic rings. All I want is to find them again.

I’ve tried to make it to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch every birthday since that one. Not my birthday, anyone’s birthday. It’s every day except for Christmas, because people aren’t born on Christmas.  

I hop into my kayak. Paddling is hard because I drop the paddle after each stroke. There is no euphoria like ocean litter euphoria. Luckily I’ve done this thousands of times, so I’m paddling through a sea of kayak paddles ready for the taking. It’s not recycling if there’s no intent.

I kayak to the closest oil spill, where I meet a duck with his feathers greased back like Danny Zuko. He’s gonna die, but he’s gonna die cool. Duck Danny directs me to my single-use helicopter, which hovers above where I’ve anchored it in the water. “Thanks, Double D,” I call down to Duck Danny. “That’s my name. Don’t wear it out,” he coughs with his last breath. I crack a smile. Son of a bitch, he really did it. 

I pilot the helicopter to the Garbage Patch and leap out, yelling “See you on the flip!” to the empty cockpit. I’ve never felt so free. The perpetual pain from slamming into the ground as a newborn persists. I’ve become the litter.

Crap. Someone must’ve thrown away a trash can, because I’m heading right for one. I already littered my parachute’s steering mechanism, and there’s nothing I can do. Kerplunk! I’ve become my worst enemy: properly disposed of trash. Thank God someone threw away some anthrax before I got in here. Even in a trash can, a corpse is always litter.