Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: NEIGHBOR (06/01/17)
- TITLE: These Friends of Mine
By Hannah Gaudette
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Pulling me from these recollections is the dull roar of a wave. It bends over as if in pain, then slithers upon the sand, reaching to tickle my bare feet. I am reminded. We never returned.
The other side of this island is the unmarked grave – the shell of a ship that lies broken and bleeding, doomed to be washed by the ocean for eternity. In my recollections, I am forced to beg for the answer. Why am I alive? Alone?
So lonely . . .
I rise from the cushion of sand and begin to retreat to my hut of thatch and palm branches which has become my home. The fire I procured for tonight's meal has since dwindled, and I won't rekindle it now. I'm weary. I'm lonely. I want my home, my family, my friends.
Does Mama know that Papa drowned with the ship? Papa, I miss you so.
Breaking my escalating torrent of heartache is a friendly whistle from behind. I am put in mind of friends who lived next door to us and called their greetings often. I turn around with a delighted burst of laughter. These are my neighbors now, my only friends. So how could I be lonely? These three want me. These three have comforted me. I'm not alone yet.
As we've done together at twilight most every night for these long weeks, the dolphins and I celebrate. They've taught me how to swim – something at which my mother might shake her head – and I've told them all my secrets. The things Papa told me. I have told them of my friends back home, and am reminded of the blessings of these.
In return, my dolphins have taught me their secrets, too. The large one I call Henry is the protector of the trio. The littlest, Henrietta, is the fastest. And the eldest dolphin Charlotte has told me her stories of all the sea creatures she's known. I listen without tiring – they keep me from running mad. In fact, the dolphins have kept me alive. Their skills at fishing are my guide, and I'm grateful I learned to basket weave from my mother.
Tonight, as we explore together in the shallows of the deep which embed the island, Henry keeps to our forefront, always watching, always alert. I swim beside Henrietta, who smiles at me as if in approval, as if to say, “You're improving.” I like to learn from them. I like to think we speak the other's language. Do you live next door to a dolphin? I do. I think every soul should know them as I.
I rise to take a breath of air, another, then rejoin them. Henrietta has waited for me, and we press on. I'm still slow at their ways of the water, so I hold fast to her as she increases speed. Charlotte is quick to pass us by, to my surprise, and the little one hurries faster. I am confused until I see that Henry is scurrying as well.
They race. It is a game.
And so we all race, round and round the island and the sea around which we call home, and I remember something Mama told me once. I was fretting about how to make friends of the little girl who had moved nearby, and my mother's strong hand had grasped mine as she spoke.
”You be a blessing to her, daughter, and a true, true friend just when she needs one the most.”
We four have lived out her wisdom. I ache for home, but I'm not alone. The dolphins and I race faster, faster, faster. Time implodes in the face of such joy. To think, every soul in the world lives beside these creatures, but in kinship? That is rare, a gift indeed.
Twilight has passed into the depths of night, and my limbs tire from this exertion. I will soon with sadness bid my friends goodnight, and I may dream horrible dreams of that mighty ship brought low . . .
. . . but I'm not alone!
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