Born in captivity, Zerrin dreamed of freedom. He knew life was more than swimming around in circles, bumping his nose against the glass. He’d heard rumors of the outside world – seen its distorted images – and longed to experience the truth of that life for himself. Soon, he’d be old enough to venture out on his own, away from the ever watchful eyes.
While Zerrin hated the life he’d been born into, Oribella embraced it. She found no drudgery swimming in circles, being constantly observed. She loved the serenity, the times of quiet contemplation. She was content with her lot, but worried about her friend.
“This is who we were created to be.” Oribella said when she found Zerrin staring wistfully out at the world.
But Zerrin wanted more.
Every day, he trained, building the skills necessary to make his escape. He practiced holding his breath, swimming fast, and jumping high. Soon, he’d be ready.
Meanwhile, Oribella learned from the elders and studied the words of the Creator. Each day she grew in her understanding and appreciation of the life she’d been given. But her heart hurt for her friend, who refused to join her in study. He was always too busy working to get away to think about why he should stay.
It was finally time.
Everything was in order and Zerrin knew he was ready. He’d chosen his moment with care. It was dark and everyone was asleep. His plan was simple. He’d swim as fast as he could, jump high and far. Where he landed made no difference, as long as he was finally out of this tank.
The wind through his gills felt amazing. Zerrin had never felt so free. He smiled, until he realized that he misjudged his jump. He was headed right for another tank. The inhabitants were exotic. No doubt this was a better place than the one he’d escaped.
The water felt different, more buoyant, stinging his scales. Lightheaded, Zerrin swam as fast as he could and jumped again, but not before someone bigger tore out a piece of his fin. Pain radiated from the wound as Zerrin took to the air again.
No water cushioned his fall. Zerrin flopped around on a hard surface, moving away from the tanks that had confined him. But there was nowhere to go. Was this really the life that he wanted? His vision dulled as he gasped for breath.
Oribella hadn’t stopped praying for her friend since she saw him jump. Even now, as his movements stilled, she begged the Creator for help.
“Please show him mercy.” Zerrin might have left the safety of the tank, but she begged for another chance for her thickheaded friend.
This was not what was supposed to happen. The world outside promised so much, but it gave Zerrin only pain. He longed to return to his home. He wished he’d listened to his friend and the elders. He could have learned from Oribella’s example, and he would if the Creator would just give him another chance.
“Help me,” Zerrin gasped, “I was so wrong.”
Light filled the room. Gentle hands lifted Zerrin and placed him back in the tank.
“Thank you,” Zerrin whispered. Refreshing water filled his gills and life returned to his fins. He sunk to the bottom of the tank and rested on the stones. Oribella sang a song of the creator as she attended to his injuries. He’d be scarred forever, but it didn’t matter. He was home. This was who he was created to be.
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