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Into the Sea
Since I was little, I knew I was different. Over time, I figured out that the reason no one liked me was because I looked different. I was top heavy—my chest was so much bigger that anyone else’s: it was a good subject of ridicule. I also wanted to spend much more time in the water with the Dolphins than any other person my age. All the grown-ups encouraged my interaction with the Dolphins. After all, we were supposed to work together with them. It was claimed that that is where our world’s name came from—Husymphin: Humans together with Dolphins. I, however, seemed to be the only one who actually enjoyed it.
When I was twelve, I began to wonder if the reason everyone encouraged me to be with the Dolphins was to keep me away from themselves. No one liked the way I looked—all shriveled when I was away from the water and completely at home when I was in it. They all seemed to regard me as some sort of monster but had no reason to throw me out. But then when I was fifteen, they did.
I woke up that morning on my bed of reeds and rushes. Immediately I could till that something was different, but I could not tell what it was. I shrugged it off, then went to wash my hands and face.
I yawned while washing, so I splashed some water on my face to wake myself up. There was a lot more water hitting my skin than usual. What was that between my fingers? I looked at them and found fleshy bits of skin connecting them. They were wrinkly, like they weren’t meant to be this dry. My extra long toes were also webbed, the skin folding neatly between them. They looked beautiful—to me, but I guess no one else thought so.
The chief of the village turned red in the face and started shouting about disgrace and deformities. My mother just burst into tears. I ducked out while the leaders were
deciding what to do about it and wandered down to the edge of the ocean. My favorite Dolphin, Tupplé, came swimming over immediately.
“What is it this time?” she asked sympathetically.
“These.” I showed her my webbed hands.
She squeaked with delight, “Those will make it so much easier for you to swim with us!” Suddenly she cocked her head. “Sorry Libbiera, Mom and Dad want me to hunt with them.”
“Bye then.” I wasn’t too happy about that. I always felt better when she was around. She didn’t care that I didn’t look or act like other Humans. I watched her beautifully muscled body streak away from me and thought about how much better she had it than me.
A hand closed in around my mouth. I immediately tried to scream for Tupplé. I felt hot breath on my neck then heard someone say, “We heard about your new deformities and decided that you are too much trouble to keep around. I’m know that no one else will be mad. They will probably thank us.” It was Afji. He was my age and had always hated me. I didn’t have time to figure out what he meant before I was being pushed down into the water. These jerks were trying to drown me! Water covered my head up to my ears. I struggled against his grip but he had a couple of friends helping him to keep me down.
I knew then that I wouldn’t be able to survive this. I decided to get it over with so that I wouldn’t have to prolong the agony. I let the air out of my lungs. Before I had time to consider what I was doing, I pulled water back into through my nostrils.
Bliss filled me. I had never remembered being this content. I felt so at home. My
skin smoothed out so it looked like everyone else’s. I could feel something sprouting out of my arms and legs. I took another lungful of water. Afji released me. I stood up in the
water and he and the other two started to back away. I looked at my arms and saw fins sticking out of them. Looking down, I saw that those fins had cut through my pants.
Then I started breathing air again. The fins folded back into my skin. I looked back up. “Unnatural!” one of them yelled.
“Run!” cried the other. They all dashed toward the village. No doubt Afji would tell everyone about what I could do. Oh well, might as well take advantage of this new talent while I could.
I turned back toward the ocean, unsure of what to do. I decided just to go for a swim like usual. I walked along the shoreline until I got to the rock under which I kept the old clothes I used for swimming. They were tight and light weight, so they didn’t weigh me down, and they wouldn’t get in the way of the fins. By the time I got them on, I was starting to disbelieve it had ever happened. If it hadn’t been for the holes in my pants, I probably wouldn’t have experimented at all.
Once I had my swimming clothes on, I waded out into the warm ocean water. It didn’t take long before I was up to my chin—the land dropped quickly away from the island. I had to consciously relax myself then I slipped my head under and took a big breath of water. It was even better than I had thought. Immediately, I was in my element, at home. Once again, I felt the fins sprouting from my arms and legs.
I swam for a while, rejoicing in the feel of water flowing through my nostrils and lungs. I never wanted to stop. Finally, I got tired of just drifting and made up my mind to find Tupplé. I looked around and saw a Dolphin pod. I swam over to them and asked, “Excuse me, but do any of you know how to find the Dolphin Tupplé?”
They all looked at me, bewildered. For the first time since I had begun associating with Dolphins, no one had anything to say. Then I heard her.
“Libbiera?” Tupplé squealed
“The same,” I replied.
She came swimming out from the crowd. “You can breathe underwater?” she sounded overjoyed and surprised.
“I know; I was amazed.” We started to swim away with the rest of the pod staring after us. “Maybe that is why my chest has always been bigger—so that I can breathe underwater too.”
“Come on! Let’s play!”
I noticed that it was getting dark. The sun was low in the sky. “I can’t,” I told her. “I have to get home. But I’ll come to play tomorrow.”
“All right.” Tupplé began to swim away.
I turned back toward the land, then realized that I didn’t know which way that was. “Uh…Tupplé…which way is home?”
She laughed, “Follow me.” She shot off. I followed after and was delighted to find out that I could keep up. About halfway there, as far as I could tell, I started to slip behind. I was exhausted.
“Tupplé,” I called breathily, “wait. I can’t keep up.” I stopped and bent over to try to get the cramps out of my side. My legs felt as floppy as jellyfish. I felt a small current beside my as Tupplé returned. I looked up and saw her dorsal fin. “May I?” I asked, reaching for it.
“Of course,” she replied. As soon as I had a good grip, she started swimming again but not so vigorously as before. Soon, we back to where I could see and touch the sand again. However, it wasn’t until I had no choice that I stood up in the air. As soon as
my lungs filled with oxygen, my fins folded back into my skin. Not before the rest of the village saw, though.
They were all assembled on the beach. I could tell that they had been waiting for me. All the men were at the front holding spears. It hurt that they felt they had to protect themselves against me. I could see my mother. She had tears stains down her cheeks and a determined look on her face.
I walked up to where they were gathered and found myself held at a distance by spear points. Instead of addressing the leaders assembled before me, I said, “Hello, Mother.”
She replied, “You’re no daughter of mine,” which cemented my decision.
“Fine,” I told her, and dove back into the sea, never to emerge again.