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Monday, June 25, 2018

Microstory 871: Pearl of Folly

A few years back, I visited my sister, who was working as an ELL teacher in Ecuador. While there, she suggested I learn how to scuba dive, which she had gotten into when she first arrived. I did extremely well in the class, easily grasping the mathematical components, and safety concepts, so I was confident in my abilities. What I discovered during the swimming pool portion of the course, however, was that I had some kind of breathing issue. At first, I thought I was panicking, because while my allergies have always made breathing through my nose difficult, scuba diving requires mouth-breathing, so it didn’t make sense. I went back home ashamed, and booked an appointment with the doctor right away, only to learn that I also had asthma. There was medicine I could take, and an inhaler, but the doctor couldn’t promise I would ever be able to dive. I wasn’t satisfied with that answer, so I became determined to figure out how to do it, even if that meant finding some workaround. I bought a snorkel, and started training myself in the pool in my apartment complex. It wasn’t quite the same, but it was unrealistic to buy full equipment if this wasn’t going to work out. Summer was coming to a close, though, so I needed to try my hand at the real thing one more time. I bought the best of the best gear, and drove out to the lake. I obviously shouldn’t have gone out there alone, uncertified, but this was something I felt I needed to do on my own. A few seconds underwater, and I was already having just as much trouble as I had before. This wasn’t working. All that time I spent at the pool—and all the money I spent on the gear—had been a complete waste. No, I thought to myself. This can work, but I have to take the training wheels off, and remove the safety net. I decided to just go for it, and head straight for the bottom.

I am freaking out on the way down, but resolute. When my whole family meets in Costa Rica in a few months, I have to prove that I’ve gotten over my issues. I keep kicking my feet until I can see the floor, along with something shiny peeking out from under a rock. Suddenly my breathing problems go away, and I feel as comfortable as I do on land. I keep going until I reach the treasure. It looks like a pearl, but it’s huge. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard of one being this large, but I’m no expert. I scoop it up to make sure it’s not just a sparkly rock. As soon as my hand touches the stone—or whatever it is that pearls are—I get a vision. I see a meteoroid strike the surface of the Earth, killing all the dinosaurs in the immediate area. Time passes quickly, and I witness a plant grow from the impact site. It spreads its seed far and wide, until it’s rooted all over the globe. The plants can somehow communicate with one another, which allows them to release some kind of toxic gas that kills nearly all life on the planet. It is the most horrifying thing I’ve seen in my life. The vision ends, and the pearl begins to crumble away, like a small piece of soap in the bathwater. Only then do I realize that the water above is rushing towards me, draining impossibly fast down the little hole I created when I removed the pearl. In only a matter of minutes, I’m crouched on a dry lake bed, still breathing through my regulator. Something green appears through the hole, and grows larger. A plant shoots out so quickly that I fall to my back. I scramble to get my mask off, and find that there are already two plants sitting right next to each other. They each release a seed, each one of which lands a few meters away in either direction. Then all the plants do the same thing over again. And again and again and again. I take off my flippers and run towards the car, but I know that it doesn’t matter. This is how the world ends, and I’m the one who causes it.

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