At first, it seemed a simple task. Tall concrete barriers restrained the sand before me and shaded my black frame from the sun. I beheld the gentle blonde slope with no trepidation. Why would I, veteran of many Death-Defying Morning Dashes with the Family Dog and proud survivor of The Zoo of Perpetual Wailing? Gentle reader, I have faithfully carried my young charge through many a kicking. The Dreaded Dropped Pacifier no longer daunts me. I am a soldier of the stroller army, and I have ground my wheels through mud and much worse.
Little did I know what those harmless-seeming grains had in store for me. For no sooner did we begin our descent into the sand of deception than I sank into its yielding hands. Tommy kicked his heels, and his mother lifted me up and tried to press on—to no avail. I sank further, up to my axles now. As the brave woman kept pushing, I shuddered, feeling those wicked crystals crawl up into my innermost parts. Horrid, vile things! They clumped in any available crevice, glomming on to my lubricated bits and caking around my insides in a most unspeakable fashion.
Tommy began to wail, kicking in earnest now, but I could not go on. How could I, half buried, with sand gluing my wheels to my axles? His mother gritted her teeth and wrenched me from the pale enemy’s hissing grasp, only to have me sink again as soon as she released me.
Tommy’s father soon joined us in the narrow passage. He observed my plight and shook his head. “Here, honey—I’ll grab the front,” he said. Together, he and Tommy’s mother lifted me and Tommy together and carried us to the bottom of the sandy ramp.
It was only then, when we cleared the concrete barrier to my right, that I glimpsed the awful enormity that awaited me. An expanse no smaller than the Sahara stretched from the bottom of that ramp. Far, far in the distance I glimpsed the faintest hint of surf. And over it all came the harsh calls of the gulls, mocking my dismay.
Tommy’s mother, kind woman that she is, said, “Maybe it will be better now that it’s flat?”
She gave an experimental push. Though my poles shuddered and my wheels creaked, I too hoped for success. I threw everything I had into that push. And, immediately, I sank.
I could not bear to look as Tommy’s father shook his head. “It’s no use, Laura. We’ll just have to make do without it.”
And so he spelled my doom.
Tommy’s mother knelt down before me, but she had not the heart to apologize for the abandonment. “Come on, Tommy,” she said to her son. “You’ll have to walk from here.”
Tommy’s face turned red. I felt his temperature climb. Surely, I thought—surely he will intercede. I know Tommy is fond of me. Of course he is; I carry him faithfully, and his snacks, too.
Tommy screwed his tiny face up in disgust as his mother pulled him from my embrace. He took one stumbling step into the sand and turned. His countenance was a terror to behold. He opened his frowning mouth, and he said, “Bad stroller! Bad!”
And then he kicked me with one white-sandaled foot.
I sat in shock as Tommy’s father stripped their belongings from my pouches. Before I regained my sense, they were dwindling over the next dune, Tommy riding high on his father’s shoulders. None of them looked back to see me there, stranded, caked in filth, alone.
Now each grain of sand burns in my aching red wheels, and the hot sun glares doom at my vulnerable plastic bits. How can I protect myself in this vast wasteland? Abandoned by my people, left to bake until my handles melt and my mesh back bursts into flame–is this a fit fate for the friendly and patient bearer of your children? How will Tommy fall asleep in the afternoon if my seat is naught but shredded black threads, pecked at and pooped on by the gulls? How will you carry his diapers if and snacks if my pouch has been defiled by beasts of the sea? Oh, wretched fortune, that my life of toil and service should end at the foot of this blasted, lifeless expanse.
The multitudinous paths divide before my blasted eyes, each one leading to bleached death and ruin. I’m lost! I’m lost! It’s all too much!