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      The moon shimmered on the surface of the water; the gentle ripple of the waves the only sound in the deep blue of the night. A woman in a spotless white dress sat cross-legged on the pale sand. She sat amongst the remnants of bags, bottles, frayed bits of bright blue rope, and cola cans, all of which had been swept onto the shore by the polluted and choked sea. One of her hands rested on the round dark head of a turtle. It wheezed and shuddered, waving its dappled flippers up and down feebly.

     “Shh,” hushed the woman brushing the turtle’s shell gently. Her skin was a deep russet brown, dotted with freckles, her inky black hair flowed in waves down her back and pooled on the sand around her. “You’ll be just fine.” She shushed again, mimicking the gently rushing water that stretched before her.

     “What’s wrong with it?” asked a voice. A young girl stood at the edge of the beach, the dappled shadows of the trees falling across her shoulders. The woman sat silent for a moment, not even turning around.

     “He mistook a plastic bag for a jellyfish,” she said finally. Her lips twitched in tiny smile of sympathy. “It wasn’t his fault. He was hungry.” The turtle coughed wetly. At last she turned,  patting the sand next to her "Come." The little girl picked her way across to her, sinking into the sand.

     “Can I touch him?”

     “Gently,” she guided the girl’s hand to the turtle’s head “There. Nice and gentle. He’s been through a lot.” Both pairs of dark brown eyes shone with tears.  

     “Is he going to die?” The girl’s voice trembled, the tears threatening to spill over.

     “Yes.” The little girl whimpered; her cheeks growing wet.  “Can’t we help him?” The woman shook her head, the girl whimpered even more.


     “Now, now,” the woman pulled her closer and gently kissed the tears from her face “That won’t do him any good.”


     “But why not? Why can’t we save him?!” cried the girl.


     “It’s too late. Sometimes we get here too late and this is what happens.” The little girl pressed her head into the woman’s shoulder, muffling her voice.


     “It’s not fair.”


     “No,” she stroked the girl’s hair “No it isn’t.” The turtle wasn’t moving anymore. The woman sighed and rose to her feet, sand sliding off her long white dress.


     “So?” asked the girl, still clinging to the folds of the woman’s dress.


     “So,” The woman’s face grew hard “You better do something about it.”

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