I haven’t been posting a whole lot lately. Not sure why. Anyway, I got an ending for my next science story, so I thought I should get posting it. This is my first science story I didn’t write in first person, and it is also the first one that divided into parts naturally as I was writing it–and there’s no long conversations that got broken up into different parts.
Also, this is going to be my last science story. There is another story I’m planning on writing that is sort-of scientific, is. . . very different from my other science stories! I’m hoping to post that one too. . . And after that, my next story should be The Sacrifice!!!! I’m super excited–though at the moment I’m kind of having writer’s blog. *sigh*
Anyway, my last science story:
Fort Myers Beach, FL
Katie stood quietly in the wet sand, letting the cool water gently lick her toes; smiling as her eight-year-old brother Brian ran straight into the waves, and flung himself down on his stomach—soaking himself from head to foot in seconds.
“Aren’t you coming in, Katie?” shouted ten-year-old Amanda from waist-deep.
“Yes. At my own pace I am,” she answered, smiling at her younger siblings’ enthusiasm. It was her first time seeing the Ocean as well as theirs, but she did not feel inclined to break her habit of starting a bit slow.
Stepping further in, up to her ankles, Katie shot a look back at her parents, and smiled affectedly seeing her Mom was just taking a picture.
“Are you going to swim today, Mama?” she asked, after she saw the camera flash.
“I don’t know,” she answered. “Not at the moment. You guys go ahead; I know you all can swim well.”
Katie waded up to her knees, and was just about to take another step when Mandy jumped on her back and both girls went under.
Katie came up spluttering. “Mandy, seriously!”
Her little sister grinned. “Now that you’re all wet, would you like to come deeper with us?”
Katie shook her head. “You guys! Alright, let’s go; this wind is cold when you’re soaked, I’m ready to get under where it can’t reach.”
Mandy forced her way farther out, her steps bouncing a little, triumphantly.
Katie followed, wondering if she was strong enough to dunk Mandy all the way under without following her example and jumping on top of her.
“I found a piece of seaweed!” shouted Brian, proudly holding up a limp, slimy leaf. “I read in a book that there are flowers at the bottom of the Ocean that are alive,” he added, “but this is a normal plant.”
“Flowers that are alive?” asked Katie, skeptically. “I think they were talking about coral or sea anemones.”
“Maybe they were. But this is a plant.”
“Actually,” said Katie, gently lifting the edge of the floppy leaf to see it better. “This looks like it might be kelp. Then it wouldn’t be a plant—it would be from Kingdom Protista, not Kingdom Plantae.”
“Why are we talking about kingdoms? There aren’t kings at the bottom of the Ocean.”
“There’s mermaids,” chimed in Mandy, who was a fairy-tale lover.
“Um, yeah—right,” Katie responded a little awkwardly. “But I wasn’t talking about a king—I was talking about two of the five kingdoms in which scientists classify all living things. I learned about those in science this year.”
“What do you mean ‘all living things’?” asked Mandy. “Is this alive?”
“Yes, it is. All plants are alive.”
“But you said this wasn’t a plant!” Mandy protested.
Katie sighed. “I s’pose I did. But it’s still alive. There are four things that an organism must do to be considered alive: first, it must contain deoxyribonucleic [dee ahk’ see rye boh noo klay’ ik] acid, otherwise known as DNA. Second, it must have a method by which it extracts energy from the surroundings and convert it into energy that sustains it. Third, it must be able to sense changes in their surroundings and respond to them; and lastly all life forms reproduce.”
“What does that mean?” asked Mandy. Brian had already gone off to look for an ‘animal-flower’.
“Let’s start at the beginning,” said Katie. “DNA is a kind of molecule. It’s shaped like this.” She held the piece of kelp with one hand on each side, and twisted her hands away from each other. Mandy took the wet scrap to see it closer, and quickly untwisted it. “It is what makes up all livings things,” Katie said. “It holds all the information needed for life. Now, all life forms have a method by which they extract energy from the surroundings and convert it into energy that sustains them. People and animals do this by eating, which gives us energy. Plants make their own food, out of sunshine, which is called Photosynthesis.”
“I wish I could do that,” said Mandy. “Then I’d never be hungry.”
Katie laughed. “Unless it was cloudy.” Mandy’s fantastical whims bothered her less when they involved science, which was one of Katie’s chief interests. “All life forms can sense changes in their surroundings and respond to those changes,” she continued. “That means that living things can tell when something around them changes, and do something about it. Like plants, that can sense light and grow towards it. Or you,” she added, crawling her fingers across her sister’s ribs.
“Hey! That tickles. Stop it!” Mandy giggled, pulling away.
“See what I mean? You could feel that, and you responded.”
“What about the other one?” asked Mandy, gently folding the kelp into quarters.
“About reproduction? That simply means that all livings things can make more living things like themselves.”
“Then this isn’t alive!” said Mandy, decidedly. “No plants—or kelp—are then.”
“Well, plants don’t have babies.”
“No, but they make seeds; so they’re still reproducing,” Katie answered, smiling. “Ow!” she cried suddenly and stumbled—which, so far out, almost cost her a mouthful of water.
“What’s wrong?” asked Mandy, wide-eyed.
“Oh, I’m alright. I just stepped on something. I’m gonna’ find out what it was!” She dove under, sifting her fingers through the sand, until she bumped against something and opened her eyes involuntarily, wincing as they filled with salt-water. She could see nothing but vague green, but could feel water-logged fabric—Mandy’s shorts. She grabbed her chance, and groped lower for her sister’s ankle, jerking it backwards.
Both girls came up at about the same time; Mandy coughing, Katie rubbing her brine-stung eyes.
“What was THAT?” asked Mandy, trying (and failing) to sound angry despite the fact she was laughing.
“Retaliation,” answered Katie, trying (and also failing) to look innocent.
“Oh, so you want to play that game?” cried Mandy passionately. “Just you wait!” And the impromptu science-lesson gave way to a full-fledged water-fight.