Planet Earth Protectors, The River's End

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“I can’t believe it!” Teplan whispered to Terah as they sat at Marney’s dining room table. “I bet that pig farm is polluting the soil and killing the river!” Both fell silent while moving on to the plateful of crackers and cheese after just finishing a bowl of soup.

Marney’s house was open-concept, and had a very homey feel. Photographs in simple frames filled much of the walls, while shelves with fancy plates and trinkets occupied the rest.

“Would either of you like more to eat or drink?” Marney asked as she headed over from the kitchen with two mugs.

“No, thank you. But that soup is delicious!” Terah commended.

“Glad you liked it; it’s my homemade vegetable soup. Everything in it was grown right here on my farm.” Marney put a cup of hot chocolate in front of each of them. “So, tell me - how’d you two get here, anyway?”

A pause stopped the conversation, and the two friends shifted in their seats.

“Well,” Teplan began, “we were on our way home when we bumped into you in your field… and before that we were just walking along the river,” Teplan answered as coolly as he could. “I just moved into the Underhill Place, which is just after the forest.”

“First of all, welcome to the neighborhood. And second of all, that poor river . . .”

Both sipped their hot chocolates.

“I’ve had this farm for almost 20 years now,” Marney recollected. “But in only twenty years, that river has changed a lot.” They were interrupted by the ding of the oven timer. “Oh, look at that — the cookies are ready; I’ll be right back.”

Teplan and Terah quietly sipped their soothing drinks and took in the serenity of Marney’s house. After taking his last sip, Teplan whispered, “What was with that reaction, eh? Did you see how she responded when we said we went to the river?”

“Yeah, she knows about the river…But, you know, Teplan? I really want to go home now, okay?” Terah said just before Marney returned, holding a plate loaded with fresh chocolate chip cookies.

“Here you guys go,” Marney said as she set the plate on the table. “For the road. Careful though, they’re still a bit hot.”

“We’ll definitely take some for the road if that’s okay?” Teplan said as he glanced at Terah. “We should get going home now, Marney.”

“Sure, sure, absolutely.”

“Thank you for everything. You have been a life-saver!” Terah added.

“You’re most welcome. And hey, if you two are ever looking for part-time jobs and want to work with happy pigs, you know where to come!”

“We’ll definitely be back!” Terah replied eagerly.

“Then, it’s settled,” Marney said with her gentle smile.

They waved good-bye and headed down her driveway towards to the country road ahead, each with a zip-lock bag full of cookies.

Within moments, and both lost in thought, the only sounds heard were the crunching of gravel under foot and the crunching of cookies in their mouths.

“Now that I think about it,” Terah wondered aloud, “maybe we should’ve asked Marney if she knew what that big barn is all about; she seemed to know something about the river.”

“Marney did say something about measuring the soil levels, right?”

“Yeah, she said she measures the soil to check the nitrogen and pH levels to see if the soil is safe or not.”

Teplan paused a moment and appreciated Terah’s memory, then continued: “maybe we should get some of the mud from the river before we go home… maybe my dad can tell if it’s polluted.”

“You mean, go back? Like, away from the direction of home? Uh, no. We don’t need it that badly. Let’s just get home.”

“Come on, Terah, it’s not that far. And plus, we’ll be fast and then we’ll be eating a bowl of cereal on my back deck in no time.”

Terah glared at the road behind and ahead of them, and then looked at Teplan. “Alright, fine. But we’re getting it super fast, and then getting out of here!”

“You got it!”

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