Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Prompt: Swimming with Dolphins

“Come on, take my hand. It’ll be all right, I promise. It’ll be so worth it, you won’t even remember to be scared!”

She laughs as I reach out and grab her hand, her fingers reaching around my palm. We jump. We fall. We splash into the cold, clear blue water. We rise up. I’m spluttering. She’s laughing.

“See? It’s all good! Come on, here’s your mask. Get the nozzle in your mouth and give it a hard blow, like we practiced. Relax. We’re just going to float until you’re ready to go under.”

We stretch out, hands linked, floating and looking down as a new world opens below us. The water is clear all the way to the sand 20 feet away. There are a dozen bottlenose dolphins directly beneath us. They’re hunting for eels, digging their rostrums in the sand and leaving circular patterns that will stay until the next storm wipes the ocean floor clear. We float above them, watching, breathing through our snorkels. I can hear their clicking sonar from up here.

She points down to her left. Four large nurse sharks rest on the bottom. I feel a quick surge of nerves, then remind myself to relax. Nurse sharks don’t frighten me, I tell myself sternly. They are a similar color and shape to the dolphins. Cousins. They all ignore each other.

Satisfied they have found all the eels they can, the dolphins rise toward us. We stay still, and they surface around us. I hear their harsh exhales, the continual chitter of sonar. Suddenly, one swims in front and faces us. I feel a thrumming wave sweep down the length of my body. It’s scanning me with its sonar!

My grin lets water in around the snorkel, and I choke, struggling upright to breathe in the air. Fool, I berate myself. They’ll swim away. You’ll miss them. I get my snorkel cleared and back in my mouth as fast as I can. She’s lifted her head to check on me. “Are you ready to go under?”

Before I can say no, I nod. She takes my hand again and we both take a deep breath and dive. Straight down, like she taught me. The dolphins follow, swimming around us playfully, easily. I feel like a clumsy elephant next to them. I feel like I already need to take another breath. I can’t tell how far down we are, but my ears feel the pressure, and I pause, level out. I tug my hand free and give her a thumbs up and a forward wave so she will continue on. I watch her dive down farther. I wish I could go with her. With them. The dolphins range between us, all around. I can’t stay. I feel desperate for air. I rise, and three dolphins rise with me. I wish I could reach out, but I know better. They’ll swim away. If they choose to touch me, they will.

I lift my head out of the water and pull the snorkel out of my mouth, hard plastic scratching awkwardly against my cheek. I gulp in air and watch the dolphins splashing at the surface.

Two stay near me, heads out of the water, mouths open. They look like they’re grinning at me. I grin back and laugh aloud. I shake my head in wonder. Dolphins! I’m in the water with dolphins!

I don’t bother with the snorkel as I dip my face back under to look for her. She’s rising now, spinning slowly in a ballet with two more dolphins. I wait for her to join me and catch her breath so we can dive under again.
Dogs in house:
Houdini, Brindle

Chocolat soundtrack, Rachel Portman

January word count:


  1. Margaret.....I had no idea....no idea you did this! I am loving reading your entries and am going to recommend that Tamara - our 5th grade teacher - contact you to use you as an expert resource. Your stories are delightful - well crafted - do you publish them in places other than your blog page?

    1. Lynn, thanks for your kind words! I'd be delighted to work with Tamara. I always have been impressed with the writing the students learn--in fact, I've learned a lot as well. I'm not yet published elsewhere, but I'm working on that! Best wishes, Margaret