The Dolphin

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: May 29, 2019

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Submitted: May 29, 2019

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The Dolphin

The boy watched as the waves around him splashed and met the shining sand that laid beneath his feet. As he pondered into the blue, vastness of the ocean he became jealous. Jealous of the freedom, power, and motion of the water before him. For a mere moment he wondered what it would be like to live there. To have the entire ocean open to you, and to not be blocked by anything. It was an intense feeling, scary almost. But freeing. What would it be like to be an ocean animal? What would it be like to be a wave splashing on the shore? He asked himself as he sat down and planted his feet just at the edge of the water. He looked up into the sky where the sun was beginning to rise and felt even more jealous. Jealous of the birds who knew no responsibility, jealous of the clouds that floated effortlessly above him, jealous of the wind that blew into his hair with no intentions. He re-focused his attention on the ocean before him and sighed. How easy would it be to jump in the water, swim and swim, and not look back? He thought to himself, almost out loud. He peered and squinted to get a better view of the ocean, stood up and stretched with his arms outreached towards the heavens. He ran his hand through his dirty blonde hair and rubbed his dark brown eyes to wake himself up. As he started towards the water to jump in he felt a hand lightly grab the back of his shoulder. He turned around to see his mother staring concerned into his eyes. She was a middle aged woman with young looking, soft skin that never felt the touch of makeup. Her eyes were a soft green like the freshest grass, and her hair long and auburn. She always wore a perfume that he called “home” because that was what it smelled like and reminded him of.  

“Where do you think you’re going?” she asked the boy.

“I was going to get in the water just a little bit,” he said.

“You know you can’t swim very well,” she said.

“I wasn’t going to go very far,” he said.

“Alright. Not too far. I’ll be watching, wave if you need my help,” she said.

“Will do mom,” he said.

He didn’t wait for her to respond as he slowly got in the water, foot by foot. The cold took him by surprise and made him want to turn around but he kept going, further into the ocean. When he got knee deep he turned around and gave a thumbs up to his mother who was watching from her beach towel. He looked down at the clear water below him as it slowly hit his legs wave by wave. He peered closer to the water and could see many tiny fish swimming in between his feet.

“Good Morning,” he said.

For a second he pretended that they could hear him and paused, waiting for them to respond, which they never did. He closed his eyes and took in the smells surrounding him. Nothing could compare to the beautiful, clean, fresh, salty air he breathed in every morning for the past 18 years he came here. The smell belonged to him, and it was his favorite. He turned and started walking horizontally towards the other side of the beach, making sure to keep his mom in sight. He splashed his feet through the water as he walked, making sure to wake up every creature he spotted. He wanted them to be awake and in the moment with him. He looked back to where the water met the sky and that was when it happened.

He felt a sharp, tight tugging at the ankle. As he fell into the water he felt light teeth jabbing into his lower leg. He tried to peer into the water but only got a quick glance at a dark shadow below him. He wasn’t exactly sure what animal had attacked him, but as his eyes closed from the salt he imagined that it was a small shark. After being plunged into the water for what seemed like an eternity he struggled to get to the surface and gasped for air. At the moment he felt he was going to be brought back under and taken to the open ocean, he felt a hand grab his arm and pull him up. He started kicking to hopefully get rid of whatever had attacked him and allowed the saving arms to take him up to the shore. He opened his eyes, which were still a little burned from the saltwater, and tried to get a good look at his rescuer. For some reason he knew it couldn’t have been his mother because she was too far away to get to him that quickly. He saw the outline of a man against the sky that was turning blue. He had lengthy, auburn hair, and a muscular, well defined face. The boy took a glimpse at his features and took a notice at his strikingly beautiful blue eyes, perfectly pink lips, and deep dimples that shaped his face as the man smiled down at him. Something about the stranger seemed very familiar. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but he felt and smelled like home as well.  

The boy blinked and when he opened his eyes again the stranger was gone. He sat up, but then sat back down as he began to feel the pain in his ankle. He looked down and for the first time noticed the bite marks and trickling of blood. He ran his hand across the blood and felt a tear start down his face. How did this happen? He asked himself. It just all seemed to happen so fast and unexpectedly. 

He turned around to find his mother running as fast she could towards him. The only other time he had seen her run that fast was when he got pushed down on the playground in grade school. And it was now that she was running to his rescue again.

“What happened?” she asked.

He found it hard to catch his breath as he rubbed his ankle again and again trying to clear the blood.

“I don’t know,” he said shyly.

She bent down and began to inspect his ankle. She used to be a nurse so she knew exactly what to look for and what to do. She lightly rubbed his ankle and asked him if he could stand up.

He stood up and she wrapped her arm around his shoulder to keep him balanced as they began to walk back to where their belongings were. The boy and his mother didn’t have the best relationship. She distanced herself since her and the boy were left to themselves.

As she gathered the books, magazines, and beach towels they had brought with him, he turned and looked back at the water that was now sparkling cerulean blue reflecting from the clear sky above. What the hell just happened? He repeated to myself.

On the short ride home his mother didn’t say any words. She just looked straight ahead at the road and didn’t look his way for a long time. His mom was a strong woman, but when it came to the boy and any danger he was put in she always broke down, and most of the time he didn’t know how to heal her so they kept quiet. When they got home she told him to go lay down in bed while she made dinner. Their house wasn’t very far from the ocean and he could get a small glimpse of it from his bedroom window. If he opened that window he could still smell the salty air coming from the water, that smell calmed him.

He slowly climbed up the stairs and into his room. He looked around, everything seemed different even though his room had been the same for years. He looked at all the posters he had on the walls, some of his favorite sports teams, some of animals he admired, some of different calendars, and some of his favorite Greek gods and goddesses. Every door, including the small white door leading into his small closet, was closed because of his “monster behind the door” fear. Having closed doors, and dim light it added to the ambiance of the room. He walked over to the cage that was in the room where his snake lived. She wasn’t a large snake, but not very small either. Her name was Tia, and she was a green tree python. He chuckled to himself as he remembered how he had gotten her. It was his tenth birthday and he had asked and asked his mother to buy him a pet. She took him to the animal shop and told him to pick out something he liked as long as it wasn’t a dog. He looked around for what seemed like hours looking at all the cats, rats, hamsters and fish before he got bored and couldn’t make a choice. He was ready to give up when out of the corner of his eye he saw a green shape in the back of the store. He went to inspect it and that’s when he and Tia had made their connection. Something had drawn the boy to her and when he got to her cage she stared at him. She didn’t open her mouth, she didn’t bare her teeth, and she didn’t move her body. The only part of her that moved was her head when she followed him back and forth as he paced in front of the cage. He stopped and looked so far into her deep green eyes that he could see his own reflection. But even as he stared she still didn’t move. She just stared right back at him. He ran over to his mother and told her that was the one he wanted. His mother was hesitant to let the boy get her at first, but once she saw Tia watching his every move she knew she was the one too and they took her home along with a bag of rats.

Ever since then their bond had been unbreakable. She sensed when he was upset and when he was happy. If he came into the room upset or crying she would move to the corner of her cage closest to his bed and stare at him with her huge green eyes until he told her why he was upset. If he came in extremely happy she would move her head up and down. The boy considered her a true friend, and a protector of sorts.  

“Hey Tia,” he said.

He grabbed a small rat from the box next to her cage and threw it in, and closed the top of her cage. He slumped down on his bed and turned over to the small table he had on the other side of the bed. On top of the table was a picture he had kept since forever and had never gotten rid of. It was a picture of him and his father on the beach on his fifth birthday. That day was special because it was the first time he had seen a pod of dolphins. His father had taken him out on his boat early that morning and while they were out a pod of spinner dolphins swam up to their boat, circled and circled, jumped and jumped, spun and spun, squealed and squealed, splashed and splashed, and then after moments of hanging out with them they went about their way. The entire day the boy was filled with nothing but joy. His father explained to him the legend of the dolphin on their way back to shore.

“It’s like this,” he began.

The boy moved in closer to him so he could hear every word over the splashing waves around them.

“In times of the ancient Earth, when the tides were still and the mountains unmoved a great ruler ruled the land. His name was King True. He had a beautiful palace and all the animals of the land adored him. His people adored him, his family adored him. But one day the King became very, very sick. One clear evening he became so sick that he sent his youngest daughter Iona into the forest to get herbs to heal his sickness because he couldn’t move himself, and his other daughters had married. Iona was the most naïve, quiet, reserved of all his daughters. Although she had these qualities, she was the most beautiful and cunning. As she set out on her journey, she felt a certain pull towards the ocean instead of the forest. As she walked towards the shore close to her kingdom, she didn’t stop when the water met the sand, she walked and walked. Into the water, and into the ocean. As she walked, she was met by a beautiful dolphin. She swam with the dolphin and talked with the dolphin. She told the creature about her father and how his health was depleting by the day. After hours of swimming, she thanked the dolphin for her company, got out of the water and began her journey home. She returned to her father, empty handed of herbs. When her father asked her where she had gone, she didn’t answer. She simply put her hand on her father’s heart and he was healed.”

“How was he healed?”  he asked his father.

“Iona had said that upon meeting this dolphin she was gifted the power of healing. So for many years her father searched and searched the oceans looking for the dolphin his daughter had described to him, but he never found it. In honor of his daughter and the dolphin he had a sculpture built that depicted his daughter swimming with the dolphin. From there the dolphin was to be honored, praised, and worshiped as a miracle worker, a beacon of hope and wisdom.”

As he stared into the picture and the memory went away he heard his mother slowly open the bedroom door.

“He would have been so proud of you today you know?” she said.

He put down the picture and looked up at her.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

His mother walked over to him with a cup of soup in her hand and placed it on the table next to the bed.

“You went further out today then you’ve ever gone before.”

The boy thought about her words for a moment. She was right. He did go further out than he had gone before. He knew he couldn’t go out very far since he wasn’t a good swimmer, but he could go out as far as he could stand. He watched her walk over to Tia’s cage and pet Tia on the head. He ate the warm soup his mother had brought him and climbed under the blankets. His mother wasn’t a helicopter mom. She gave him his space when needed and he appreciated her for that. Some nights, when the weather was cold and stormy he would ask his mother to tell him a story to help him go to sleep. He had hoped and hoped that she would tell him the story of the Dolphin but she never did. He had begun to assume that she didn’t know the story or didn’t want to bring up the memory.  

The bird outside his window chirped waking him up the same way it had for years. He rubbed his eyes and told it good morning. He stretched and realized just how much his body hurt. He was aching all over and he couldn’t figure out why. He looked down at his ankle and it began to heal over quickly, He thanked the gods. He peered out the window and looked toward the ocean. For some reason, his hands began to shake and his body got sweaty. He sat back down on the bed and rubbed his entire face with his palms. He heard his mother open the door slowly and she came in.

“Good Morning. How are you feeling?” she asked.

“I’m alright. Just a little sore.” he said.

She walked over and gave me a kiss on the forehead, the same way she had since he was born. She trotted over to Tia’s cage, who was patiently waiting to be fed, and she threw in a rat.

“You want to go to the ocean today?” she asked.

He paused for a moment and looked up at her.

“Not today,” he said.

She turned and looked at him with concern in her eyes. He had never said no, and today, he didn’t know why he did.

“Are you sure?” she asked.

“I’m sure,” he said.

She gave him another kiss and told him she’d be downstairs working on some writings. After she left he got up and went back to the window. Something deep inside him didn’t want to go back to the ocean. Some part of him was afraid. For the first time in a long time he didn’t want to do what he loved to do the most. Instead of going to the beach he sat in his room and read. He read about animals, giants, and ancient people who used to walk the Earth, just like the stories his father would tell him. Before he knew it, it was time for lunch and his mother came back up to the room to give him a grilled cheese and some tomato soup. For some reason he wasn’t very hungry.

“You should eat,” she said.

“I’m not hungry,” he said, harsher than he had expected.

“Do you want to play some games?” she asked.

“Just get out,” he said.

He watched her turn her back and walk out of the room as he sat down on his bed, legs to his chest and arms crossed. He had never gotten so frustrated with his mother before. He had never snapped on her before, and he didn’t know why he did today. He watched as Tia made her way to her favorite corner closet to his bed and she stared into his crying eyes.

“I don’t know what came over me Tia,” he said.

She didn’t say anything in return but she just glanced at him. The boy walked over to his window and peered back out at the ocean in the distance. Anger came over him. He hardly ever got angry, but today was different. He was angry at getting attacked, he was angry he couldn’t swim out further, and he was angry that the ocean took his father. He remember that day clearly.

He and his father had woken up early and set out to the ocean, the same that they did every day. He watched him climb into his small boat and set out to the wide open water. He told the boy he was looking for the dolphin from his story. But hours went by and his father never returned. When the boy had told his mother about it she had a search party sent for him. But when days went by and they never heard anything from the team they presumed him lost. Years and years went by and his father never came back. He and his mother never had a funeral. He guessed they held on to a small piece of hope that he would come back one day.

As he began to cry, he threw himself onto his bed. He picked up a pillow, put it up to his face and screamed as loud as he could. For the first time in a long time he became afraid and felt alone. He laid on my back on his bed and glanced up at the ceiling. The day they had moved into this house he had put little glow-in-the-dark stars up on the ceiling. They reminded him of the clear night skies and thousands of stars he and his family would see when they went to the beach at night. They made him feel free. They made him feel small. They made him feel special. They made him feel safe. They reminded him just how important his life was. As he looked around at each one, each a different size, he slowly closed his eyes and dozed off.

The boy suddenly woke up in the middle of the night heavily breathing. He looked at the dark room around him and waited for his eyes to adjust. He had imagined that his mother probably came in when he was asleep and turned off the lights. He looked on the table next to my bed and saw a cup of soup, so he knew she had come by. He looked over at Tia’s cage and she was quietly sleeping. He got out of bed and put on a jacket and some shoes. He silently walked out of his room and out the front door. The misty air outside felt good on his skin and it tasted fresh and clear. He pulled up his hoodie over his messy hair and started to walk. He took a shortcut he knew that led him down to the beach. He took off his shoes when he got to the edge of the beach and slowly began to walk towards the shore feeling the soft, cold sand in between his toes.

He slowly trotted over to where the ocean met the sand and looked out. He closed my eyes and imagined myself swimming far out into the ocean and meeting a dolphin just like Iona. He opened his eyes and looked up at the moon shining brightly above. I know you’re here. He thought to himself, and prayed that his father would hear him. He sighed and took a small step forward feeling the cold water on his toes. Before he could go further he felt a hand lightly grab his shoulder. He turned around to find his mother, in her night clothes glaring lovingly into his eyes.

“Are you ready?” she asked.

“I’m ready,” he said.

She nodded her head slowly and let go of his shoulder. She kissed him on the top of his head.

“I’ll be watching,” she said.

He turned and took another step towards the dark water. As a small wave met his lower leg he looked over to the left of him where he saw a small figure. It was the outline of a man. He had auburn hair and a strong muscular face. He had beautiful blue eyes, perfect pink lips and dimples that showed when he smiled at me. He walked over to the boy and stopped when he got inches away from him.

“You ready to go?” He heard the man whisper.

“Go where?” he asked.

The man turned and pointed to the ocean.

“To freedom of course,” he said.

He turned around and looked back at his mother who was still patiently waiting for him. She continued to look at him, so he assumed she didn’t see the figure. He turned back to the figure and then back to the ocean. He closed his eyes and took a step forward. Here we go. He thought to himself as he walked towards the open water. And that was when it happened. He slipped and fell into the water head first. He could feel the water beginning to rush into his lungs and his eyes were forced shut. When he opened them again he was out of the water, on the shore. He looked around him and saw his mother running towards him in the far distance. He tried to stand up but felt a rush of pain in his ankle. As he looked down he saw the blood running down his foot. He laid back down and waited for his mother to get to him. As he blinked and closed his eyes again he listened to the roaring of the ocean waves. And far off in the distance, he could hear the faint squealing of a dolphin. He placed his hand on his beating heart, smiled, and took a deep breath in. As he closed his eyes he felt his mother’s hands graze his shoulder softly.

“I love you,” she whispered.


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