The Collector

August 19, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the phrase, “stars in the sand.” Your story can be any genre (or poem) and can use realism or fantasy. It’s a dreamy prompt. Go where the it leads!


The Collector – by Hugh W. Roberts

One hundred and twenty million years had passed since its last visit.

It didn’t like the feel of the granular material, but the stars that had fallen into what humans named ‘sand’ needed replenishing to keep the planet alive.

Picking up an item the waves washed ashore, the Collector studied it. It smelt and tasted good. For every one of these items it took away, it left a star.

As beaches around the planet shone, humans wondered where all the plastic in the seas had gone.

It would only be another twenty years before the Collector returned.

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Image of a starry sky above a beach.
Image Credit: Charli Mills

Written for the 99-word flash fiction challenge hosted by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch. Click here to join in.

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19 thoughts

    1. Absolutely, yes, Debby. Every day, I do my part by picking up at least one piece of rubbish or recycling and placing it in the correct bin. If we all did the same, it would make such a huge difference.

  1. How wonderful to take the plastic pollution and leave a star in its place. We’d all be stars if we just collected a little more. I enjoyed your story, Hugh.

    1. Thank you, Norah. Just imagine if every single person on Earth picked up a piece of litter every day next week and disposed of it correctly. What a help that would be to Mother Earth.

  2. I often think how Mother Earth is the great recycler, turning over stones of materials she’s played with for millions and billions of years. But I love the idea of a visiting Collector!

    1. You found the message in this piece of flash, Liesbet. We should all do what we can; otherwise, our planet would already be a long way down the line to oblivion. But before we get there, who knows? Maybe the Collector will turn it attentions to other objects on our planet that contain plastic. Including us! Maybe it will save the planet?

        1. We could all be Collectors, Hugh, and some of us are. We try our best too, whenever we know we can dispose easily of picked-up garbage on beaches and elsewhere. It’s a start and I am always in awe and thankful when I see people set out in groups, purposefully, to clean trash in nature. This summer at the Belgian coast, Mark and I did the same one afternoon with my niece and nephew – on their initiative! There is hope. 🙂

        2. I’m always shocked by how many people leave their rubbish on the beach, Liesbet. It’s often the case that the tide comes in and takes it all out to sea. I’m also shocked that it seems to be students who are mainly to blame, especially given that many go on marches about global warming. Our local council has a volunteer team who collect rubbish most days before the crowds arrive. But it doesn’t help that there are not enough trash bins and that instead of forcing rubbish into already overflowing bins, people don’t think about taking their rubbish home with them instead. I hope the Collector pays these litterbugs a visit one day.

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