"Dance of the Dolphin"

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

Author’s note:

This story, in keeping with “The Fountain,” is based both on truth, and fiction. It is a compilation of my own thoughts and imagination, along with things I’ve done, things I’ve said, and things I’ve read. No intention of plagiarism was forethought, and if present, this story will never be published for the purposes of monitary gain. (**Pat Conroy, “Beach Music” **) It was the first story that I ever wrote back in 1999 and was solely intended for my own personal journey into the craft of writing, and for your enjoyment. I hope this story touches you, as it did me when I wrote it.

This story is dedicated to one of my dearest friends in life-

Elizabeth Hollis Whitmer, February 2nd, 1959 - July 4th, 1998.

“Dance of the Dolphin”


The evening of our 20th reunion was magical, to say the least. Liz smiled warmly as I got my things together. She was relaxing in the comfort of her bed as the morning sun peeked in through her bedroom window. “Kitten as a cat, yeah smitten as that.” I quoted from "High" by The Cure.
“Last night was great wasn’t it?” I couldn’t hide my pleasure of our enchanted evening of just a few hours before.
“Mmm… the best,” she purred in her afterglow. “So, I’ll pick you up at your hotel at one?” She asked with big bright bedroom eyes. My smile answered her even before the words escaped my lips.
“Yes- sure, one will be fine.” This gave me enough time to drive back to my room, grab a bite, shower and shave, and get dressed for whatever Liz had in mind for our day together. “So, what’s this special surprise that you’ve cooked up for us today?” I asked, hoping for some sort of a clue.
“You’ll just have to wait and see now won’t you!” She teased. God, she was so beautiful, even more than I remembered when we were in high school.
“Ok, ok, you’ve got my interest peaked! Now, I have to get going if you want me at my best.” As I leaned over to give her a kiss goodbye, she pulled me into her arms, and within seconds, my clothes were scattered along with her tangled sheets and our tangled limbs.

At precisely one o’clock, Liz pulled up outside The Seaside Shanty, a small posh, B&B where I was staying while in town. She honked her horn on her jeep, and as I shut the door and sauntered up to get in, I noticed that her long dark hair was windblown to beat all hell; but God, she looked so sexy, so natural. As soon as I climbed in, I kissed her passionately. She smelled amazing, like the ocean breeze blowing lightly in your face as you taste a fine glass of Burgundy wine. I couldn’t get enough of her.
“Hi babe,” she managed to get out in-between my kisses.
“Lady, you look gorgeous! Good enough to eat!” I couldn’t help but laugh at my boldness.
“You’ll just have to wait until tonight for that, hot lips!” She pushed me away teasing, and put the jeep into gear. “First, is your surprise, but I must warn you, it’s a two-parter.”
"What’d ya mean, a two-parter” I asked her with my full attention.
“Well, first we are going on a little boat ride,” she started to explain.
“Ahha! Water sports,” I teased her. “And second?”
“Oh no, you just gotta wait and see,” she said with eyes sparkling. I must admit, she had me very intrigued. I turned around and fumbled in the back of the jeep.
“Hey, you got any beer back here? Yes!” Finding the cooler well stocked with ice cold bottles of my favorite beverage. I pulled out two bottles, opened them up and handed her one.
“Oh, that’s bright!” She glared at me. “While I’m driving? Really?” She scolded.
I took it back, then held them both up for inspection. “More for me,” I laughed. I let the first few gulps slide down with extreme pleasure, savoring the effect it had on me. “Ah- Oh yeah!”

She turned off the main road, and we were soon driving lazily down a back road along the brackish inland waters just east of the Everglades. I checked out her CD collection; and found one of my favorite bands, put the disc into the changer and selected random play. Dave Matthew's cued up with ‘# 41'
“…Come and see, I swear by now I’m playing time against my troubles…”
I let my troubles go down along with a long swallow of brew. I noticed that we had just past her house, as she made a turn down a rougher road, shifting into four-wheel drive, bouncing along. “Is all this yours?” I asked her, pointing to the expanse of land and water that lay before us.
“Yep! Divorce settlement,” she said matter of fact. “Fucker never saw me coming!”
“Remind me never to piss you off!” I said, half serious. “Besides, why the fuck would he ever leave-” Oh shit, now I’d gone and done it.
“Baby, you’d never let me go like he did. You’re a man who knows quality when he sees it.” She wasn’t smiling anymore, and I knew that I had introduced a sour subject, so I turned up the volume as “Crash Into Me” cued up next.
“You’ve got your ball, you’ve got your chain, tied to me tight, tie me up again.
-Who’s got their claws in you my friend, into your heart, I’ll beat again…”
Feeling relaxed and slightly buzzed, I sang along with my favorite line-
“Sweet like candy to my soul, sweet you rock and sweet you roll- Lost for you, I’m so lost for you…when you come Crash, into me…”

Liz came to a sudden stop in front of a small chain across the road between two cypress trees. She unlocked it and drove down to the water’s edge, where there was a small dock with a motorboat tied to it. I grabbed the cooler and she hauled her backpack with our lunch inside, up on one shoulder.
“Untie that line and cast us off,” she said as she started the motor with one pull of the cord. I got settled in the boat as we cleared the dock and headed out through the brackish waters where saltwater mingles with fresh.
The afternoon wasn’t too hot, and with the easy breeze blowing and the ice cold beer, it was very pleasurable. “Hey, how ‘bout one of those beers now, if there’s any left,” she smiled. She was in total control of the day, and I was ever so content to remain submissive.

Liz guided the boat along a couple of miles of winding pathways; through swampy islands and inter-connecting coastal waters. The conversation flowed freely and as smoothly as the beer we drank. We talked about our separate lives over the last twenty years, and of our failed marriages and miss-matched relationships. There were comfortable silences from time to time, as we individually contemplated what lay before us; both of us secretly hoping that our reunion the night before would be the start of something good, something real. It just felt so right.

“So sweetheart, where are we going?” Although I had overheard her talking to some of our close friends last night about her plans for us today, the suspense was still drivin’ me nuts.
** “Well, just around the next bend is Nick’s place,” she pointed up and to the left, as we passed several small islands almost connected to the shore with mangrove trees covered in Spanish moss.
“Nick’s place, I thought I- Did you two cook all this up last night?”
“Well, I thought I’d ask him if it would be ok for us to drop by today.” She was keeping something from me as her eyes sparkled when she spoke.
“You know, I felt bad when he told me last night that his son has Down’s syndrome.”
“It’s Autism!” She corrected me. “His son is Autistic!”
“That’s right. Anyway, I bet it’s not easy on Nick or his wife, I- I don’t know if I could deal with any of that.” I said, not meaning to be insensitive.
“Nick’s son, Jeremy, is a very special and gifted little boy!” - Shit! I upset her.
“Oh I- I’m sure he is, I didn’t mean to say that- that he wasn’t or that they didn’t-“
“It’s ok babe! It’s ok.” She cut me off in mid-sentence, keeping me from babbling on and digging a deeper hole for myself. “In just a few minutes, I will show you, and I don’t think you’ll ever feel the same again.”
“What’d ya mean? What are you going to show me? What are we going to see Liz?”
“Shush! Look, there it is!” She pointed to a cove up ahead that had a long dock extending half-way out from the cove. Two or three boats were tied to the opposite side; a row boat with oars, motorboat next, then there was a beautiful canoe tied in the back. A small white house, partially on stilts, stood about fifty yards back from the dock. I was confused when Liz cut the motor and dropped anchor just short of reaching the dock, keeping us more in the middle of the small lagoon.
“Aren’t we going to dock and get out?”
“Just wait a few minutes babe, you’ll soon understand and all will be revealed to you.” Liz hit one blast on the boat’s horn and Nick came out of the house, giving us a friendly wave. I looked at Liz, and she nodded to Nick, who in turn, nodded back to her. He went into the screened-in porch, then came back out with his wife Jenny, who carried their son Jeremy.

She brought him out to the middle of the yard and carefully set him down on the ground next to a big weeping willow tree. She spoke to him, motioned for him to go forward then, she backed off and waited. The boy sat for a moment then, she prodded him again; speaking softly, as only a loving mother could do
He looked around; searching, and next to the trunk of the willow tree was a broken off branch, with two or three fronds of willow. The boy picked it up and marveled at it, like it possessed magical powers. What he did next, was a ritual familiar to him and the others who were present; but this had been arranged specifically for me. He started to sing. It was a song with words incoherent to me, but I felt like it must have been some sort of a nursery rhyme. It was so soothing, so safe.
Jeremy got up as he continued to sing, he started dancing around and around, dipping and twirling the branch up and down in the air, hands raised in praise. Closer and closer he moved towards the edge of the water; all the while, singing and dancing. When he got to the edge, he crumpled onto the sand with the branch dipping in and out of the water. Scooping up a handful of sand, He held it up in praise, then let it sprinkle down into the water. I was fascinated; in awe. “What’s this all about, why is he doing-“
“Shush! Just watch and see. Just… experience it.” Liz said quietly, cutting me off again. Jeremy got back up and danced to the dock, while his parents watched from the yard, their hands half-covering their face in anticipation of what was about to happen.
Again, he crumpled down onto the dock, with the tree branch dipping in and out of the water. His singing was getting louder and seemed impatient; almost as if he were waiting for something to happen, something to appear from the depths of the dark blue-green water.

Suddenly, from the middle of the lagoon, not more than twenty feet from our boat, the water splashed upward as a bottle-nosed dolphin emerged from the surface, dove into the air, and splashed down again. The boy’s song turned to that of pure joy, as he splashed the branch in and out of the water, beckoning the silvery blue-grey mammal to come to him. The dolphin swam in tight circles and seemed to be singing in tune with the boy. He continued to submerge then resurface, diving into the air and back down into the water with graceful, almost choreographed like splashes.
Jeremy reached his hand out as far as he could into the water; splashing, desperate for contact with the beautiful mammal. Finally, the dolphin appeared by his side, and Jeremy ran his hand along the entire length of his glistening body. He then got up and danced himself back down the dock and onto the shore, where he waded into the water up to his waist. The dolphin followed as closely as he could, stopping just a few feet from the boy and the shore.
Just as suddenly as he emerged, the dolphin made one last spectacular run, where he propelled himself up into the air, splashed his goodbye, and was gone. Jeremy wasn’t ready for this sudden departure, and he franticly splashed and danced and sang some more. Then, he just gave out and crumpled onto the ground by the water’s edge, exhausted and spent. With tears streaming down my face, I looked at Liz, and she smiled through her own tears.

Nick walked down to his son, and very gently, scooped him up and held him. He spoke softly to him, calming him down, soothing him. Nick looked towards us and nodded proudly. I realized; just then, that we had witnessed something so private, so sacred- so magical. I knew that it was an honor to have been invited to be a part of something this special. It would stay with me for the rest of my life. I turned to Liz, fighting off more tears, and simply said, “Thank you.”

Without saying a word, Liz started the motor, pulled up anchor, and we turned to go. I looked back as the family waved to us, then disappeared into their house. “My God,” I said to myself. The boat ride back was comfortably quiet, each of us savoring the magic we had just witnessed, in our own private way. **


It was still a couple of hours before sunset when we got back to Liz’s dock. She cut the motor and coasted in effortlessly. I jumped out and tied us off and helped her out of the boat.
“Well babe, are you ready for the second part of your surprise?” She asked with knowing eyes.
“How on God’s earth could anything top that. How could anything even compare?” I was dumbfounded, my breath still taken away.
“Well if we hurry, we’ll just get up before sunset.”
“Get up?” I was confused.
“Yeah, come on, I’m taking you to work with me!”
It hit me like a slap in the face! “Wait just a damn minute!” I protested. “You’re a professional skydiver! I’m not going to-“
“Ha! Is this the same wild and crazy guy that ten, twenty years ago, said he’d try anything once?” She asked me with an ‘I won’t take no for an answer’ look. “Besides, we don’t call it skydiving in the biz, we call it ‘pyrotechnics’, skydiving with fireworks!”
“Well yes, I did say that, and still do,” I defended. "Wait, did you say fireworks? I don’t know Liz. I don’t know if I can- you know, to-“
“To jump out of a perfectly good airplane, and plummet thousands of feet from the air to the ground at over 120 mile per hour?” -God, she took the words right out of my mouth! “I promise you, you’re gonna love it!”
“Ah, what the hell,” I gave in; peer pressure being one of my childhood weaknesses, and Liz knew this, she remembered.
“Yes! Yes! You’re gonna freak!” Liz jumped up and wrapped her arms and legs around me, giving me a big kiss. Now tell me, how could I deny her? Her with those damned beautiful brown eyes beaming back at me.

I think about day now; just over a eighteen months ago, as I stand beside her memorial grave in silence. For over 39 years, she touched the lives of so many. But for me; above all others, I felt a love like no other, a bond between us that could not be broken- even in death.

I remember when I heard the news of her death, the bond we had was supernatural, spiritual. I was on my way to see her, driving a twelve hour trip from New York to Louisville on a 4th of July weekend we were supposed to spend together.
I was tired and I clicked on the radio; the news. The announcer was in mid-story about a skydiving accident in La Crosse, Wisconsin. No names or any other details that would have clued me in on who it was. But I knew; right then and there, that my Liz was gone. I just knew.

I stood for a long while as the morning rain was drizzling down, thinking- When you’re in the rain, nobody can see you cry. I read the inscription on her memorial headstone-

“…She was an Angel, that God allowed to Fly…”

I wiped the tears from my eyes and knelt down to the ground, carefully un-wrapping the box in my hands. Opening it up; wrapped in tissue paper, was a beautiful porcelain dolphin breaking the surf. I placed the statue at the bottom of her headstone; and kissed it tenderly, to say goodbye.

“This is for you Liz, for the love that we shared, and for that day that touched my heart forever- For the Dance of the Dolphin.”

Elizabeth’s ashes have been spread all over the world as per her wishes. From the summits of Kilimanjaro and Serengeti, to Tahiti and Bora Bora, from Istanbul to Athens, and the Vatican in Rome to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, from the snowy peaks of the Rockies in Colorado, and of course, her homes in Louisville and Murray, Kentucky. All the places she lived and loved in life, are now a part of her in death. – Liz, you will always be a part of who I am, and where I came from.

 

cKs.


 





 


Submitted: September 29, 2013

© Copyright 2021 KellySeale. All rights reserved.

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