For some reason, my wonderful father kept a horrible secret from me. I never understood why, but I knew that it somehow involved both of us.
He never told me about his childhood, only about when he met my mother, and even that was vague. "We were on the beach, and she helped me," he only said. I never met my grandparents from his side of the family, for, as he told me, "They live too far away for you to meet them." Not even my own mother would let me know about him, nor would my older, adopted brother, who seemed to know more than I did.
Odd things would happen around him, also. He'd rarely go to the beach, and if he did, he'd stay as far away from the water as possible. He'd rarely take me to the nearby marine park, which held dolphin and orca shows. Basically, he'd stay away from anything that involved salt water.
Strange things had also happened around me. I could swim better than most people in my school—I was swim captain, and I'd always win. I could swim in cold water without a problem, and I could hold my breath for almost five minutes. I could somehow communicate with the dolphins and whales at the marine park, as well as other marine life, including my brother's goldfish. They seemed to know about my father's secret, as well, but, like with my mother and brother, they refused to tell me.
But despite all of the things that were kept secret, and despite all of the strange things between the two of us, my father and I were closer than two peas in a pod. He'd want nothing more than to see me happy, and I'd always enjoy his company.
One day, when I was eight years old, the entire family and I were watching the news. My father stood, excusing himself to get a drink of water, and when he returned, the news anchor said, "Now with some exciting news: A local marine park has just acquired two new orcas to join Lataya and Lokai in their special performances…"
My father looked up quickly at the T.V. screen, looking at the footage of the two new orcas. "No…" he sighed, before dropping his glass.
My mother hurried to his side as he watched in utter despair, and she said, "Sasha, Nicholas, go upstairs, please."
My brother did what was asked, but I stayed put, worried about my father. "Daddy? What's wrong?"
"Sasha, go upstairs," my mother repeated, sounding annoyed that I didn't do what was asked.
"But what about Daddy?"
My brother returned to my side, and said, "C'mon, Sis'…Let's not make Mom any angrier.
After hesitating, I gave in, following my brother upstairs to worry silently to myself. Downstairs, I heard my mother trying to talk to him. "Darling…Harmeet…it's all right…"
Please let Daddy be okay… I thought.
That evening, my father met with me in my room. When I saw him in the doorframe, I sat up quickly, and said, "Daddy, are you okay?"
"I'm fine, sweetheart," he replied, sitting on my bed with me. "I was…just upset about the marine park."
I leaned up against him, and I heard him sigh in sorrow. I could tell that he was trying to hold back something…something he still refused to say. "Daddy, why won't you tell me some things?"
"I…" He tried to think of what to say. "Sweetie, I love you more than anything in the whole world. The reason why I'm not telling you certain things is because I'm trying to protect you."
I wanted him to continue, but when he stopped, I felt a heavy weight fall on both of us. So instead of continuing, I stayed quiet about the subject. "I love you, Daddy," I said, smiling.
A small smile appeared on his face, and he kissed my head. "I love you, too, Sasha."
After that, I didn't ask my father about the things he never told me about. However, more strange things were happening. A man continuously showed up to see my father, and every time he left, my father would be upset. He also seemed to dread my 13th birthday, a birthday I was really looking forward to.
One day, maybe four months before my birthday, the man that I mentioned showed up unexpectedly. Whenever I see him, I picture a ghost, although he seemed more real the more I saw him. He had pitch black hair, which made it seem eerie with his pale white skin, and icy blue eyes. He always wore a black suit with a white collared shirt, black pants, and shiny black shoes. When I opened the door, he smiled, and said, "Hello, my dear. Is your father home?"
"Yes, sir," I replied, inviting him in.
I had him follow me to the living room, where my father was sitting, lost in thought. When he saw the man, my father stood, saying, "This is unexpected…"
"I know I came unannounced, but what I have learned is something I need to tell you right away."
My father hesitated, and then he looked at me. "Sasha, could you let us talk in private?"
The man looked at him in shock. "You have not told her, yet?"
"Told me what?" I grew curious over what the man just said. "Daddy, what is he talking about?"
"Not now, Sasha…"
"She has the right to know—" the man stated.
"I said not now."
There was an awkward silence between my father and the man. In that silence, I decided to obey my father and left the room so that they could have their privacy.
After a few moments, I heard, "W-what?"
"I am sorry, but that is the outcome. That is why I had hoped you told your daughter already, especially since she will be thirteen."
"No…no…there has to be some other way…"
"There is no other way…I am sorry." The man headed to the door, and he nodded toward me. "My dear," he said to me in a mere whisper, "I hope you will cherish every moment you have with your father."
"Why? What's going on?"
A sad smile appeared on his face. "I am afraid it is not my place to say."
He left, and I went to the living room, finding my father so close to tears. Seeing him look so miserable made me feel miserable.
"Dad…Daddy, what's wrong?" I said, touching his hand.
He looked at me, and a tear trickled down his face. "Oh Sasha…" He had me sit with him, and he embraced me. I heard him weep silently to himself, and I leaned against him. I knew that he was upset, so I didn't push him to tell me what was wrong. I was doing what the man had told me to do—I was cherishing the moment I had with him, even if it was sad.
My mother and Nicholas returned from the grocery store. When she saw my father, she quickly put the bags down and hurried to his side. "Darling, what happened?" she asked. Then she said to me, "Sasha, go help Nick with the groceries."
"But…" I didn't want to leave my father.
"Just…do it, now…"
My father gently tapped my shoulder. "It…it's okay, Sasha…go help Nick."
After a moment's hesitation, I left the living room to help my brother. I told him nothing about what I heard, nor did I express my concern for my father.
As the days continued to pass, the more miserable my father seemed to get. My worry grew as his sorrow grew, and every once in a while I'd find time to sit with him, to do what the man told me to do. Soon, it was a month before my birthday, and now I, too, began to dread it, for I knew something about it upset my father. I never mentioned it, nor did I get the lease bit excited about it.
Then one day, while my mother was busy preparing dinner, someone knocked on the door.
"I'll get it," my father said quickly, expecting the ghostly man, I thought. When he opened it, he backed away slightly, and asked, "Can I help you?"
I heard, "You're coming with us."
"Don't ask questions…just tell your family you're going away for a little trip…and hurry up!"
My father didn't persist, and simply did what was told, telling mainly my brother and my mother. Knowing that I heard the whole thing, he approached me, and said, "I'll be fine, don't worry about me."
Days past after the surprise visit; my father didn't come back. My worry for him grew, and soon it turned to anxiety. I'd sit by the window all day, every day, leaving only to eat or to go to the bathroom, looking for a car that would eventually have my father in it, safe and sound. When a car did show up, I'd look out with high hopes, only to have them crushed when it was someone else.
One day, while I was on the lookout for my father, I saw a black car pull up. Recognizing it from that day four months before my birthday, I looked up anxiously, knowing it was the ghostly man's car. Expecting my father to be in there with him, my heart began to race, though it stopped when only the man stepped out.
The man looked worried—extremely worried. In my own anxiety, I ran to the door and tore it open. "Please help!" I cried out, knowing somehow that I could trust him. Tears trickled down my face from my held up anxiety. "M-my dad's gone, and I d-don't know w-where he is! T-these guys came and t-told him t-to go w-with them, and…and…"
My tears quickened as the man approached me. Surprisingly, he didn't leave me there weeping; instead, he touched my shoulder, and said, "My dear, I know that your father is missing. It is all right; we will find him."
Nicholas, who was staying with me while our mother went to the store, heard me cry out "help" and hurried to my side. "Sasha, what's wrong?" When he saw the ghostly man, he had me back away from him. "Who're you?"
"I am a friend of your father's," the man replied. "Do not worry; your sister knows who I am."
"Then why did she cry for help?"
It was I who responded. "I…thought he came for Daddy…and I hoped that he could help find him…so…"
"I know where he is, my dear," the man said. "I am here to take you to him—both of you. The gentlemen who took your father have him near the piers, by the ocean. They are not at all friendly, and they are highly dangerous. They know of your father's secret."
"His…secret…?" I said, knowing that it was the secret he still hadn't told me.
"He still has not told you? This is very serious…" He dug through his pocket and took out a note addressed to my mother. "If we hurry, I can take you to him before anything extraneous happens."
"Wait…I don't like this," Nick said. "Sis', how can you trust him?"
"I've met him so many times…I can trust him," I replied.
"Let us hurry," the ghostly man said, allowing us to exit before closing the door.
He had us enter his black car, and he drove out of the neighborhood. Along a road that moved parallel to the ocean, I looked out constantly, trying to find the pier that held my father captive. Please let Daddy be okay…please…please… I thought, begging in my head for my fear grew more and more.
At last, we stopped at an enormous pier, one that my mother had taken me to one day, telling me that it was where my father saved her one night. Sitting by the pier was an enormous tanker boat; it seemed to wait for us to appear.
"That is where your father is," the man said. "Please proceed with caution."
"Wait…you took us to a place when we have no clue what's going on, and now you're telling us to proceed with caution?" my brother asked, highly suspicious of him. "No…no way are we doing this."
I looked at my brother in shock. "What?! But Nick…"
"C'mon Sasha…" He forced me out, and got me to head the opposite direction. "I don't like where this is heading."
"But what about Daddy?"
"This is all a trap, Sis'…"
"But Daddy's on that boat!" I moved away from him. "I have to help him!"
I ran from him, heading toward the boat, which held many enormous crates, and, from what I could see, a blue tank filled with water. As I stepped on the boat, I cautiously moved through, hiding behind the crates when I saw a couple of men walking past. Once they were gone, I continued my search for my father. Where could Daddy be? I thought worriedly as I looked some more.
But then, I heard, "There she is!" I looked, barely missing two guys who flew at me to hold me down. I ran and ran until I bumped into a separate man who grinned at me evilly. He was a huge man, standing nearly six feet tall, and held a muscular frame. His dark brown hair reminded me of a blackthorn tree, but his brown eyes reminded me of blood.
"Hello, little girl," he said as he took a hold of my arm before I could escape. He then suddenly grabbed my hair and pulled my head back, making me look up at him. I trembled in fear as tears trickled down my face from the pain he was causing. He laughed suddenly. "You're his daughter? You look nothing like him!"
I trembled some more before I heard, "Let go of her!" Nicholas dug his elbow into the man's side, causing him to let go of me. Nick took my hand and helped me get away from the man, asking me, "Are you all right, Sis'?"
I nodded, muttering, "T-thanks, Nick," before I noticed that he suddenly looked up, and gasped. Shock was etched in his face. "Nick? What's wrong?"
"No…" He let go of me, and ran toward someone before someone else tasered him.
"Nick!" I ran up to him, before I saw who he was running towards, and stopped. It was my father, chained to the floor of the boat, looking miserable and sick. "Dad…Daddy!"
He looked up quickly when he heard me, and when he saw me, his eyes widened. "Sasha…no!" He struggled to free himself from the chains, before he looked back up at me. "Sasha, get out of here!"
But then, the huge man grabbed me again, and pushed me toward my father while still holding me. "What a nice family reunion…Too bad the whale won't be staying for long."
I stayed quiet, not sure what he meant. My father continued to struggle to free himself. "Leave her out of this, Josh!"
"Why should I? She should know…" The man, Josh, forced me to look at him again. "Your daddy took your mother away from me…he stole her love from me." I trembled some more, still confused as to what he was trying to tell me. He suddenly glared at me. "You still don't get it, do you?"
"I said leave her out of this!" my father said. Josh pushed me away from him, and I ran into my father. After a quick moment, he embraced me and asked me, "Are you all right, Sasha?"
I nodded before burying my face into him in fear, sorrow, and joy. "I miss you so much, Daddy…"
"You don't know how much I missed you, too…" He looked up at a glaring Josh. "Listen to me very carefully…I need you to get out of here…go as far as you can."
"What about you?"
"Don't worry about me…get as far away from here as possible."
I began to back away, began to obey my father, when Josh grabbed me again. "You're not leaving. You need to know everything."
"E-everything about what?" I asked.
He pulled my head around to make me face my father. Near him was the tank I had mentioned…now that I had gotten a better look at it, I noticed that it was huge; it was big enough for a sperm whale. When my father saw it, he jumped, trying to stay away from it.
"No…no…I can't go in there!" he said in fear.
Josh grinned, and he looked at another man. "Put him in."
The man did what was told, unlocking the chains before throwing my father into the tank. "No, Daddy!"
I heard him yell in pain, as he suddenly grew to almost twenty feet in height…or now length. His body grew in size, and his skin changed color from a tanned apricot color to black and white. His arms were replaced by enormous pectoral fins, and his legs practically melted together, becoming a tail and flukes. A large hump grew toward the latter half of his body, but then bent over drastically to the right, becoming his dorsal fin.
I fell to my knees when I saw what became of my father. He was no longer human, but a whale…an actual killer whale. Tears trickled down my face, and I trembled as I slowly approached the tank. "D-Daddy…?"
He looked up at me, seeing the fear in my face. "Sasha…sweetie, it's all right…"
Behind me, Nicholas got up, and I heard him running toward me. But when he saw our father, he stopped. "Oh no…"
I trembled some more. "Daddy…how…how did this happen?"
"WHAT?!" Josh suddenly roared laughing. "Are you telling me that you don't know?!"
My father hesitated. "Sasha…I…I'm not…supposed to be human…This is what I really am. I...I met your mother when I was stranded on the beach, and she helped me get back. After-ward, she met me at the pier…this pier…every night, and I grew to love her. I wanted to be human.
"Then one evening, after helping her, I got my wish and I became human. But…but I couldn't be anywhere near the ocean, because…because this would happen."
I slowly extended a trembling hand toward my father, touching him. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"I was afraid…that you'd be scare of me."
My brother sat next to me. "Sasha…"
The boat suddenly began to move out of the docks. I looked up to see Josh laughing at us. "Enjoy your time together while it lasts…it won't be long."
I lied on my stomach beside the tank, feeling tears trickle down my face again. My father and brother stayed near me, with my brother sitting on my left, and the tank with my father on my right. I trembled some more, still scared of Josh, for I still didn't know what Josh had to do with my family, or why he hated my father.
After a while, my father looked at me and said, "Sasha?" getting my attention. I looked at him, and he asked, "Are you all right?" Too terrified to speak, I put a trembling hand on his bent dorsal fin, and more tears trickled down my face. "Oh Sasha, I'm sorry…I'm so sorry for not telling you about me…I was so afraid of losing you, I..."
Not wanting him to think that he did lose me, I got closer to him, resting my head on him, wrapping my right arm around his dorsal fin. "I'm not mad, Daddy." I then looked at Josh, who was with a group of his cronies, looking at my father in displeasure. "Why does he hate you?"
My father looked at him. "He was your mother's last boyfriend before I became human. He hated me before we even met, because your mother would spend more time with me by the pier than she would spend with him.
"One night, she came to see me, and he grabbed her, furious that she was with me. I didn't want him to hurt her, so I jumped up and pushed him aside. That made him even angrier, and he threw your mother into the water…it was freezing, and I feared that she could've died." He stopped for a moment, as if thinking of what could've happened to my mother. "I brought her back on the dock, but she was so cold, I was scared that even if she didn't drown, she would freeze to death. I begged to become human, and I did that night to save her. He's hated me even more when he found out."
I thought about my father becoming human for the first time ever to save my mother's life. "Daddy, how did Mom find out?"
"She was unconscious when I became human and took her to the hospital. Even though I was still human, I was told that when I knew that she was all right, I had to go back to the water. When she woke up, it was the middle of the night, and she saw me with her. Of course, she didn't know who I was, and she asked me why I was there. I told her that I was a friend of hers, and that we saw each other every night. Obviously she didn't believe me, and asked me what my name was. I told her, and again she didn't believe me, so I told her that in the morning, I would show her.
"When she was released from the hospital, I took her to the pier, and I jumped back into the water. She thought I was crazy, but then she found out that I was her whale friend."
I could picture everything: My mom lying how I was on the pier, looking and smiling down at my father, oblivious that he loved her, when Josh appears, and demands to know why she spends so much time with a killer whale. I could also picture my mother trying to calm him down, before he grabs her and…I hate to admit it…tries to rape her, and then my father comes to her rescue, making sure that she's unharmed.
Then I could picture my mother almost drowning in freezing cold waters, and my father pushing her up to the dock using a spy hop, like how I've seen the whales do at the marine park, and then becomes human to take her to the hospital.
Hearing my father explain that my mother asked him what his name was, I remembered the day when I overheard calling my father "Harmeet." I looked at my father and said, "Daddy…when I was eight, and the news had that story about the two whales…and when Mom told me to go upstairs, she called you 'Harmeet'…is…is that…?"
"My real name?" I heard him chuckle a little. "No…that's just something that your mother began to call me after a couple of nights. It means 'beloved friend'."
A smile lit my face; I knew that my father was indeed my mother's "beloved friend." I looked at him again and kissed him. "I love you, Daddy."
He lifted his head to look at me. I could tell that he was smiling inside. "I love you too, sweetheart."
Just then, I thought of something funny, and I couldn't help but to giggle. My brother looked at me, and I said, "Just think…all this time I've been up close to a real orca." My brother smiled, and I heard my father laugh again; it made my heart rise to hear him laugh.
But then, I saw Josh approach us with an evil glare on his face. My smile faded, and I moved away from my father, backing away with my hands on the ground.
"I heard you giggle…What's so funny?" he demanded. I shook my head quickly, but he grabbed the collar of my shirt and lifted me off the ground. "I don't like funny business, little girl…now why were you laughing?!"
"I-I…" I didn't know what to say, for the fear that had left me returned. Nicholas jumped up to try to help me, but Josh pushed him aside before one of the cronies grabbed him. "I…"
My father suddenly jumped out of the tank, like how I had pictured him doing for my mother, and pushed Josh, forcing him to let go of me. I crashed to the floor, and backed away again as my father said to him, "Keep your hands off my daughter!"
Josh glared at him, but he seemed to have not heard what he said. "You will not stop me like you did before."
"Try me." I could hear the fury in my father's voice; I knew that he was remembering the night he almost hurt my mother. However, I saw that almost his entire body was out of the water; I feared that his skin would dry out.
"Daddy, your skin…"
He looked at me, but Josh grabbed me again, pulling me away from the tank. "No more," Josh said in anger. "No more will you two be anywhere near each other."
But then, I heard a deep voice laughing, and a man nearby said, "I found one; it's right by the boat!"
A sheepish grin appeared on Josh's face. "Say good bye to your daughter."
He dragged me to the edge of the boat, forcing me to look down at the water. Looking right up at me was a huge great white shark. Terrified of sharks, I screamed and tried to back away, trembling in fear. "N-no!" I cried. "Keep it away! Please keep it away!"
The shark laughed again, scaring me even more. "A scared little seal…and it's all mine!" I screamed again in my overwhelming fear. Tears trickled down my face as the shark circled around in excitement.
Behind me, I heard my father struggling to move, since he was still out of the water. I also heard my brother say, "Sasha!" but I couldn't look back at them, for I was too focused on the one thing that scared me most.
As I continued my struggle to keep the shark away from me, I accidentally scraped the heel of my shoe on Josh's leg, stepping on his foot hard. He howled in pain, and then he roared at me, "You little—!"
In his anger, he pushed me off the boat, but I quickly grabbed the edge, finding myself dangling in front of the hungry shark. It laughed again in its delight, and I tried to pull myself up, though I couldn't.
"Sasha!" my brother cried out again, but I couldn't see him. I tried to plant my feet onto the side of the boat, but the side was slippery, and my feet couldn't hold on. A couple of times I almost lost my grip and my fear grew even more. My shoes ended up falling off and landed in the shark's mouth. It spit them out, before jumping up to try to grab me. I screamed a third time when the shark was close to my foot.
"Fall little seal, fall!" the shark said, still considering me a seal.
I felt my hands beginning to lose their grip on the metal pole of the boat, and I began to cry in my fear. Without thinking, I said, "Daddy…help!"
I lost the grip in my right hand and I gasped in fear, for my left was about to go. I trembled and looked down before feeling familiar hands grab me.
"I've got you, Sasha," my father said.
I looked up to see him human, pulling me up as I reached up with my right hand. "D-Daddy…" was all I could say as he helped me back onto the boat. Once I was safe, I embraced him, weeping in fear.
"It's okay…it's okay…" my father said, soothing me as we sat down on the deck. "I've got you…you're safe." He held me close to him, and he leaned his head against mine.
For a good moment we sat there together; I was weeping, still terrified by the incident, and my father was keeping me close to him. In that moment, no one could bother us, for it was just the two of us there.
But then, I felt Josh's cold hand touch my shoulder, ready to grab me. I jumped and held onto my father, my tears quickening.
"Get over here, girl," Josh demanded coldly.
I shook my head, more terrified of him. My father glared at him, and said, "Are you blind?! You just tried to feed my daughter to a shark! She's not going to do anything you ask her!"
"She'll do it if she wants to see you again."
Josh tried to drag me away, but I held on tightly to my father, saying, "N-no…no!"
That only made him angrier. "Move, now!"
Seeing the setting sun, my father said suddenly, "Let me at least put her to bed…I won't stay with her, but at least let me do that."
I looked up at him quickly. "No, Daddy…don't leave me!" I cried.
He looked at me. "It'll be all right; I promise."
Josh glared at my father for a long moment. "…Fine…But take that boy of yours, too."
My father nodded, and he and I got up to follow the man who still held my brother. I stayed close to my father while we were led to a small dark cabin, and before the man said anything, my father said, "Let me have a moment, please." After throwing my brother into the room, he surprisingly nodded.
The door was left cracked open, and once no one was in earshot, my father said, "Sasha, Nick, I want you both to listen to me very carefully…I have a way to get us all out of here." My brother turned to look at him, and he looked at me. "Sasha, what day is it tomorrow?"
I thought for a moment. "T-tomorrow…tomorrow's my b-birthday," I stammered.
"That's right; you'll be thirteen."
"B-but what does that have to do with…?"
"You'll see…it'll explain why you're so good in water and why you can understand animals." He looked for any signs of eavesdroppers. "Knowing Josh, he's going to make me go back in that tank tonight. Tomorrow, I'll find a chance to become human, and when I do, the three of us will jump out of the boat."
"Jump?" I said in fear. "W-what about…"
"I'll worry about the shark, Sasha…if it comes, I want you and Nick to swim as far and as fast as you can."
"Sure, Dad," my brother said.
I, however, hesitated; I feared more about the shark waiting for us. "Daddy, I—"
"All right; get out!" Josh suddenly yelled.
I jumped, looking at my father. "Daddy, please don't leave…"
My father looked at me. "Sasha, it'll be all right."
"Yeah," my brother added reassuringly. "I'll be here with you."
Josh banged his hand against the door. "I said out, now!"
"I'm coming!" my father replied to him. He looked at me, and he stood. "You'll be all right, Sasha; trust me."
He left, quietly shutting the door, and my brother sat with me while I wept silently to myself. I wanted to stay with my father; I felt more comfortable with him.
Nick wrapped an arm around me and said, "Everything's going to be all right, Sis'. Dad knows what he's doing."
"I know he does," I replied through my tears. "Why do you think I want to stay with him?"
"He's doing this to keep us safe; now c'mon…" He wiped my tears away. "Dad doesn't want you to cry. You'll get yourself sick if you don't stop."
I eventually stopped, and I leaned against him. After a moment I said, "Nick…did you already know…about Daddy, I mean?"
He hesitated. "Yeah…yeah I did." He shifted rather uneasily, fearing that I was upset that he knew. "I found out about him when I was still waiting to be adopted. I was at the beach with a group of kids that he and Mom were looking at. But they were all by the water, and I was at the pier…the same one Mom and Dad would go to all the time…because back then I couldn't swim."
I looked at him in shock; he was the best swimmer on his school's swim team. "You couldn't swim?!"
He laughed a little, shaking his head. "It's kind of embarrassing, really…now that I think about it." He thought for a moment, and then he continued. "When they found me, they asked why I was on the pier instead of with the others, and I said that I liked being on the pier, by myself…I was picked on because I couldn't swim, but I didn't tell them that.
"I stood up to introduce myself, but I slipped, and I fell into the water. Because I couldn't swim, I almost drowned, but Dad jumped in to save me and I saw him become an orca. He pushed me up to the surface, and kept me on his back while I caught my breath, and then Mom helped me up, asking me if I was all right. I was still in shock from seeing Dad not human, and so Mom told me everything. I figure Dad tried to explain some of it, but I can't understand him when he's an orca
"Mom then asked if I could keep Dad a secret. I agreed, but I also confessed about me not swimming. I was so upset that I couldn't swim, and I was ashamed that Dad had to save me, that I started crying…yes, I cried." He looked at the second shocked look on my face. "But I was like four years old when this happened. Dad felt really sorry for me, but obviously he couldn't do anything for that moment, and I had to go back to the orphanage.
"But the next morning, Mom and Dad came and asked to adopt me. I was surprised to see Dad there after what I saw, and I was shocked that they wanted me over any other kid. I asked them why they wanted me, and Dad said I reminded him of that night when he saved Mom, and he wanted me to be happy."
I listened to my brother's story over and over again in my mind. I looked at him for a long moment, and I thought about what he went through…kind of like how my mother did. I happily embraced him, and a small smile lit up my face. "I'm so glad that you met them…if you didn't, I wouldn't have you as my older brother. I wouldn't want anyone else to be one."
He smiled. "And I wouldn't want anyone else to be my little sister. You know…Mom was actually pregnant with you when they adopted me, so you were kind of there, too." After a moment, he added, "I'll do anything to keep you safe, just like Dad will."
"I know you will." I smiled some more. "So when did you become a good swimmer?"
"Well, Dad taught me how to swim…at a pool, of course, because he can't become an orca in the pool. I really wanted to become a good swimmer after Dad saved me, because I wanted to do so for him."
I began to grow drowsy. Yawning, I shifted around to get comfortable, and I leaned against the wall of the little cabin. As my eyes closed, I said, "G'night, Nick."
I woke up in the middle of the night with one of the worst stomachaches I ever had. Wanting to be with my father, I stood, holding onto the wall of the cabin for support and to my stomach due to the pain, and I quietly left my brother to head to the tank, finding my father as an orca.
Seeing that no one was on lookout, I approached the tank. My father was simply swimming around to keep him afloat. When he saw me, he stopped.
"Sasha, what are you doing out here?" he asked.
"My stomach's hurting…real bad," I whispered in reply. I sat on my knees beside him, still holding onto my stomach. It grew worse when I smelt the seawater.
"Sweetie, if you get caught…"
A tear left my eye due to the pain. "I had to come out here, Daddy…I've always gone to you when my stomach began to hurt."
Then, I heard footsteps coming toward us on the boat. I turned around to see the ghostly man.
"Hello, my dear," he said with a little smile. "I see that you have learned about your father." I nodded, and he looked at my father. "Hello, my friend."
My father delayed his greeting. "Please don't tell me you're here for Sasha…please…"
"No, no my friend; I cannot separate the two of you…not now, at least, after what all has happened. No, I am here to warn you about what will happen when the sun rises in the morning, in case you have forgotten."
My father sounded a little uneasy when he said, "No…I haven't forgotten…I know what'll happen."
I looked at him. "Daddy…what are you talking about? What will happen?"
He hesitated. "The plan to get us out…it…has to do with why your stomach's hurting. It also has to do with you becoming thirteen…because, in a sense, you're a whale, too."
I didn't say anything for a moment, thoroughly confused. "I don't understand."
"I do not know if you are aware of this, my dear," the ghostly man said, "but for orcas, maturity is reached at the age of thirteen. Because your father is an orca, you will begin to become one whenever you are in the ocean in the morning…when the sun rises."
They gave me a moment to comprehend everything. "Is…is that why I can understand marine animals?"
My father nodded. "And that's why you swim so well."
My stomach began to hurt and I grabbed it quickly. "Why does my stomach hurt, though?"
"Your body is adjusting to whatever changes it is or will be going through," the man replied. "I suggest you stay away from salt water until morning, for you will only feel worse."
I sighed, knowing that it meant I had to leave my father for the night. Before I moved, however, my father lifted his head out of the water and onto the edge of the tank, touching me gently with the tip of his snout. "I love you Sasha…so much," he said.
I smiled and happily kissed him. "I love you too, Daddy."
After bidding them good night, I quietly headed in the direction of the small cabin, only to find it unrecognizable from the other doors nearby. Oh no…where's the cabin? I thought worriedly.
I went looking for where my brother was; however, as I looked, I heard, "What are you doing out so late?" I turned quickly, finding Josh looking at me with an evil smile. Jumping, I backed away, before he grabbed me, tying a piece of cloth around my mouth. "Now, now…we don't need to wake you daddy."
I tried to scream and fight to get away, before he forced my hands together and handcuffed them. He dragged me to the edge of the boat, and I tried to scream some more, wishing that the ghostly man could hear and help me since my father was in the tank still. "Good bye, little girl!" He said before throwing me off the boat.
The moment my body touched the water, I felt excruciating pain. I wanted to scream again, but my entire body was underneath the ocean's surface, and I was sinking due to the handcuffs that proved to be heavier than I had originally thought.
I felt my body change suddenly, for, apparently, the sun was beginning to rise. It grew in size and length while my head changed shape. The cloth around my mouth broke off due to my teeth that became round and cone-shaped. I could see better than I normally could in the water, and I thrashed around as my arms and hands became pectoral fins. They began to hurt as they were being squeezed by the handcuffs, which eventually broke and left major indents on my rubbery skin.
After my legs melted together, becoming my new tail and flukes, I swam to the surface, for I couldn't hold my breath any longer. No…no, this shouldn't have happened, I thought. Josh found me…
The boat was moving away from me, going off to some unknown area. Worried about losing my father and brother, I swam after it so that when I could I'd call out for them.
"Daddy!" I called out, knowing which side of the boat my father was on. "Daddy, help!"
"Sasha?" I heard him reply. "Sasha, where are you?"
I heard my brother suddenly say, "Dad, where's Sasha?"
"Nick!" I cried out. "I'm down here!"
After a moment, I saw my brother looking down at me. "Oh no…" I heard him say. "Sasha…?"
"Nick!" I said again, thinking that he could understand me. Knowing that my father was wondering about me, I also said, "Daddy, please help!"
Just then, I heard my father jump out of the tank. "Sasha!"
Nick disappeared suddenly, and I heard him say, "Hold on, Sasha!" before he suddenly jumped off the boat, landing in the water.
"Nick!" I swam up to him as he did with me, noticing that he had taken off his short sleeved, button-down shirt, revealing only his white tank top.
"Sasha, are you okay?" he asked me after he moved his hair out of his face.
"I'm fine, but…" I began.
My brother suddenly shook his head, tapping me gently. "I can't understand you, Sis'…Just like Dad."
What can I do then? I thought as I heard muffled voices coming from the boat.
"Get him back in the water!" said a very angry Josh.
I heard some struggling, before I heard my father say, "Get off of me! I'm not leaving my kids!"
He suddenly appeared, as human, soaring off the boat and landing into the water like Nick did. My brother held onto my dorsal fin, and I swam up to him, now ignoring the boat.
"Daddy…" I said as he became an orca once again.
He looked at me, and said, "Sasha…"
Knowing he was upset about me already turned into an orca, I said, "Daddy…Daddy I'm fine."
My brother suddenly looked around, and said, "Dad…Sasha!"
There was the same deep laugh that I heard the day before. My father and I looked, seeing the great white shark and my fear grew quickly. "No…no, not again…!"
It looked at my brother hungrily, and I did whatever I could to keep it away. My father tried to shoo it away, before telling me, "Sasha, get Nick out of here!"
I began to obey, when I felt Nick grasp my dorsal fin, yelling in pain. He and I were dragged underwater, before he suddenly let go, going deeper than I was. "No, Nick!"
My father bolted after the shark, ramming it with his head. I swam after my brother after the shark let go of him, and I pushed him up to the surface. He coughed after reaching air, getting whatever water he sucked in out of his mouth. He also held onto my dorsal fin tightly, managing to say, "M-my ankle…it hurts…"
Nick… I thought worriedly as my father fought with the shark. After maybe a moment, he suddenly appeared, and said to me, "We have to find land."
I followed him to an uninhabited island nearby. Once we were there, I went as far as stranding myself so that Nick could reach the dry sand. He dragged himself the rest of the way, finding no means to move his right ankle. There were teeth marks and blood that formed a ring around it, making me worry even more about him.
I suddenly became human, finding my skin dry enough, and I ran up to my brother, tears streaming down my face. "N-Nick…" I said when I fell on my knees beside him. "I'm sorry…I'm so sorry…!"
He looked at me, and said, "Sasha, it's all right…"
"No it's not…you're hurt, and it's all because of me…" Saying this caused my panic to grow.
My father approached me. "Sasha, listen…"
I looked at him, and I grew worse. "D-Daddy, I don't know what t-to do…h-he's losing blood, and…" I was exaggerating; he wasn't losing a lot of blood.
"Sasha…sweetie, listen to me…" My father had me look at him. "It's going to be all right; I know what to do. I want you to stay here with him, all right?"
I nodded, feeling myself tremble as he went off to find something to help my brother. Nick turned around so that his back was lying on the sand, and he looked at me. "Sis' I'm fine," he said. "I'm not losing all the blood in my body…my ankle's just broken…"
That only made me feel worse. "N-Nick…I'm so sorry…this is all my fault…"
"No it's not…you didn't drag me underwater…the shark did."
"B-but I was supposed to make sure you were safe…and if I hadn't gotten up in the middle of the night, then…"
"It's still not your fault."
My father returned with two flat, thick sticks and a bunch of seaweed. "Here we go," he said. "This should help."
While he mended Nick's ankle, I sat a few feet away, still blaming myself for what happened while tears continued to trickle down my face.
"Sasha?" I looked up to see my father looking at me with worry.
My tears quickened. "D-Daddy…it's my fault…Nick's hurt because of me…"
He sat beside me and embraced me. "Sweetie, it's not your fault." I shook my head, still believing that I was to blame. He had me look at him, and he wiped my tears away. "Listen to me…you did nothing wrong." I slowly stopped crying, and my father smiled. He had me lean against him, and he ran his fingers through my hair.
Behind me, Nick grunted, and I looked, seeing him sit up. After looking at my father, I stood and approached my brother.
He looked at me and smiled. "Hey, Sasha."
"Are…are you all right?"
"I'm fine; don't worry about me."
Tears trickled down my face again, and I sat beside him, embracing him in relief. "I didn't want this to happen…"
"Sasha, it's all right…" He moved a little, and I looked at him. "Now c'mon…what did I tell you about crying?"
I could help but to laugh and smile. My brother smiled some more, and moved again, looking like he wanted to stand. "Nick, do you want help getting up?"
Before he could answer, I had his arm wrap around my shoulders and I helped him stand. "You don't need to do this, Sis'…"
"I want to, though," I replied. "You're my brother." I looked at my father seeing a smile on his face.
Just then, a totally different boat appeared heading toward the island. Only one person was on the boat—it was the ghostly man.
"Hello, my friends." He said with a little smile. "I am here to take you all home."
"Take us all home?" my father said in shock. "But what about my deal?"
"My friend, the deal is off. Your love for your family has proven that you would, indeed, be much happier as a human than you would as an orca. However, you will sill become one is you ever enter the ocean…as will your daughter."
"I won't mind," I said quickly. "I mean, without everything that happened, I kind of liked being an orca."
The smile on the man's face widened as a ramp appeared for us to get on the boat. "Well then, what are we waiting for?"
I helped Nick onto the boat, with my father following. "I don't know what I can do to thank you…"
"You can thank me by keeping your family happy…especially your daughter." I looked at them, and the man smiled. "She is a special child…you cannot let anything happen to her."
The ghostly man drove the boat toward the mainland. Nick sat along the starboard side, looking out at the water while I sat with my father on the other side.
"You know," my father said, "With everything that was going on, I never got a chance to tell you something, Sasha."
"What's that, Daddy?"
He smiled. "Happy Birthday, sweetheart."
I smiled as he gave me one of his giant hugs. Nick looked over, and said, "Yeah…Happy Birthday, Sis'."
My smile widened. "Thanks…I even forgot it was my birthday…"
Just then, we heard the sounds of orcas nearby. My father looked up, his smile fading for a moment. "That sounds like…"
"Dad, Sasha, look over here!" Nick cried out, pointing out at sea. There was a pod of maybe thirty orcas swimming by.
My father stood, looking at the pod. "I can't believe it…"
"What is it?" I asked.
I looked out at the pod of orcas. "Your family…wow…"
"I know…I haven't seen them in years…" He suddenly sighed sadly. "They wouldn't want to see me, though."
"They didn't like my decision to become human…In their minds, all humans are bad, which I don't blame them for thinking so. My mother was the only one who was happy for me, because she met your mother and knew that she was kind." He sighed again. "I don't even know if she's alive anymore."
I heard a whale surface behind us, and I looked, seeing a female looking up at my father. "Daddy, look…" I said.
"Oh my…is that who I think it is?" the whale said, still looking at my father in disbelief.
He looked, obviously recognizing her voice, and his eyes widened. "Mother…" Reaching out, he touched the orca, and he jumped in delight.
"After all this time…my little one still recognizes me." She looked at me. "Who is this?"
My father looked at me, and the largest smile appeared on his face. "Mother, this is Sasha…my little one."
I looked at him as he wrapped an arm around me. "Your little one, Daddy?"
He smiled even more, kissing my forehead. "It's what orcas call their children." I looked back at my grandmother, and he told me, "It's all right…you can say hi to her."
A small smile lit my face, and I said, "H-hello…"
There was a pleasant mood that surrounded us. My grandmother moved closer to the boat while I lowered my hand toward her, and she touched me. "To see my little one's little one…you do not know how happy I am to meet you."
My smile grew. "I'm so happy to meet you, too. I've asked about you so many times…"
My grandmother looked back at my father. "Could I, by any chance, swim with her?"
I, too, looked at him. "Can I, Daddy? Please?"
His smile was still on his face. "And why would I say no?"
I smiled, and I slipped into the water, becoming an orca. After moving away from the boat, I looked back at my grandmother, who approached me.
"My dear, you are beautiful," she said. "How old are you?"
"Today's my thirteenth birthday," I replied. "I actually just started to become an orca, like Daddy does."
This delighted her even more. "My little, little one…thirteen years old…" She touched me with the tip of her snout. "It is so great that I see you today…of all days."
I looked up at my father, and that large smile was planted on his face…
That event happened fourteen years ago. Every day after, I would go to the pier, whether after school or in the evening on weekends, in order to spend time with her and my father, who would go out and swim with her in his delight to have her back in his life. She was delighted to have me in her life, and I was overjoyed to have her in mine. However, she died seven years later due to a respiratory infection. The last thing she said to me was that she had wished to see my father at least once while he was human, and I was the one who made her wish come true.
My father was distraught after finding out about his mother. Nothing would make him happy anymore; he never smiled. I couldn't even take him off the coast and have him swim with me; I only reminded him of his dear mother. He died seven years after my grandmother, and soon I was undergoing depression.
I sat in my old room, before I moved in with my brother a few years earlier. In my hands was a picture of my father, my brother, and myself on a boat that Nick bought a year before my grandmother died. I touched the glass that seemed to prevent me from touching my father, remembering every little memory I cherished so dearly.
My thirty-year-old brother walked by, and when he saw me, he returned to the door-frame. "Sasha?"
Tears trickled down my face, but I didn't look up at him. "I…still can't believe he's gone…" I thought aloud, remembering the night he had died only a month ago. I was there with him that night, for I was told he was sick, and I never left his side.
Nick sat beside me, and he gently wrapped an arm around my shoulders. "I know…"
My tears quickened as I leaned against him. "Oh Nick…why'd this have to happen?" He could only shake his head, not knowing how to fully answer.
Then, a woman came by—it was Nick's fiancée, Tanya. "Nick, Sasha, there's someone who wants to see you."
My brother looked up at her. "Okay; we'll be there in a minute," he replied. He looked at me and said, "C'mon…let's not make them wait."
He and I walked out to the living room, finding the ghostly man waiting for us. He stood when he saw us, and he took off his hat he wore. "Forgive me," he said solemnly. "I know that this is a difficult time for you to have visitors…"
"No, no," my brother replied quickly, now with full respect for him. "Sit, please."
After we sat down, the man said, "First, I want to express my condolences to both of you…your father need not have died." I looked away, feeling tears trickle down my face again. Nick looked at me, and had me lean against him. "Second, I want to talk to you about…"
Tanya suddenly came in. "Nick, honey, I…" She jumped when she saw the ghostly man. "Oops…sorry about that…I didn't realize that your guest is still here…I can wait."
The man watched her leave. "She is lovely…does she know about…?"
"Yes, she knows," my brother replied. "She's actually really happy to know about our family."
"That is good." The man looked at me. "Do you have a significant other, my dear?"
I looked up at him. "I…yes…but he doesn't know yet…"
"I think it is best that, if he is trustworthy, you may tell him about your secret. If he accepts this secret, then it will all go in your favor."
There was a sudden knock at the door, and I looked up, seeing a man. It was my boy-friend, Jeff. "Oh…that's him…"
I got up, answering the door. "Hi Jeff," I said once I was outside.
He smiled sadly, giving me a kiss on the cheek. "Hey Sasha…how've you been?"
I hesitated. "I've…been better. Would you like to…to come in?"
He looked at the window, seeing the ghostly man. "It looks like you already have company, and I don't want to barge in. I only wanted to check on you…you haven't been all that happy at the marine park." I was working at the marine park, staying close to the four orcas that resided there, for they were actually my cousins from the exact same pod my father was from. He then embraced me. "But I know how upset you've been about your father."
I shifted uneasily when he spoke of my father. As I thought about him, though, I thought about what the ghostly man suggested, knowing that I should tell him about my secret. "Jeff, are…are you free tonight?"
"I'm always free for you…why?"
"Could…could you meet me and my brother at the beach?"
"You want to go to the beach?" He smiled. "Sure, I can meet you there."
He kissed me again, and after he left, I returned inside to the living room. "He doesn't want to come in?" Nick asked.
"He knew we had a visitor," I replied. "And…I've decided to tell him tonight."
My brother stood. "Sasha, are you sure?"
I nodded. "Jeff and I've been going out for at least six months…I think it's time." I paused for a moment. "Nick, could you be there to help explain…please?"
"Yeah, of course I can…But is Jeff trustworthy?"
"I think so…I mean, I can't keep it from him forever." I looked at the ghostly man. "We're sorry for all of the interruptions…what were you about to say?"
"Yes…as I was saying, I want to talk to about the marine park in itself…and about your cousins."
"Is something wrong with them?"
"No, nothing is wrong…I, however, need to give the marine park to someone else…so that your cousins are not sent somewhere else." The ghostly man owned the marine park. "I have decided to give it rightfully to you two…so that not only will you make a better source of income, but you can keep an eye on your cousins and ensure their safety."
"You're giving the marine park to us…" I thought about it for a long moment. "That'll be fantastic…I think…" I looked at Nick. "There's so much we can do there!"
"Well…when I was younger, before I found out about…about Daddy…I had always wanted to pet Lataya, Lokai, Ano, and Haku. And…I've heard so many kids ask to pet them, and they never get to because it's 'dangerous'. Maybe…during certain times, I could go out and let kids and adults pet me…and my cousins if I keep an eye on them."
"You wouldn't mind, Sis'?" Nick asked.
"I wouldn't mind at all…only certain people can be there, though…those who're trust-worthy enough to know about my secret…like Jeff, when he finds out…"
"Maybe after a while…but we'll have to be careful."
"I know we will."
Evening came upon us quickly, and soon Nick was driving me to the beach to meet Jeff. My worry grew as we got closer, for I feared that he'd never speak to me again after we showed him my secret…and I loved him so much. Knowing what I thought, Nick looked at me after we parked, and said, "It'll be all right, Sasha…Tanya was fine when she found out."
"I'm worried that Jeff will be different…" I replied. Seeing a familiar car, I looked around, finding Jeff waiting for me along the shoreline. "When I go into the water, after you explain everything, I'll head to the beach to become myself…is that all right?"
"Sounds good to me," he replied.
I got out of the car and approached Jeff, who looked around before he saw me. He smiled as I said, "H-hi, Jeff. T-thanks for coming."
He kissed my cheek. "I wouldn't miss out on seeing you." He saw the worry in my eyes as I looked away, and he asked, "What's wrong?"
I looked at him. "I-it's nothing…at least, it isn't right now…"
"Well…why'd you want to meet me out here? You never want to go to the beach."
"There's…something Nick and I need to tell you…and show you…" I looked, seeing Nick approaching us. "C'mon…"
Nick and I took Jeff to the old pier; our boat sat there idly, claiming that spot as our own. Finding it odd, Jeff asked, "Why are we here?"
I hesitated. "Jeff…I…this thing that we're going to tell you…not a lot of people know about it…Please promise me that when you see, you won't tell anyone."
"I won't tell a soul…But…why are we here?"
"It's…easier to show you here…" I looked at my brother, who nodded before I said, "I…the reason why I don't go to the beach…is because if I go in the water, I…I become an orca."
Jeff didn't say anything for a moment. "You…become a whale?"
I nodded. "I…know you don't believe me…but I'll show you…" I looked at my brother again, before I slipped off the pier and became an orca.
When I finished my transformation, I looked at my boyfriend, seeing utter shock written on his face. He fell to his knees, and said, "S-Sasha…"
Hearing his voice, I raised my head up for it to sit on the pier. "Jeff…I'm sorry…" I said, though my voice never reached his ears.
Nick knelt beside him. "Our dad was originally an orca…but he became human after falling in love with our mom. I'm adopted, so I don't become one, but Sasha started to become one on her thirteenth birthday. There's more to the story, but this is the short version." My brother looked at me, and touched me gently. "Please understand why we never told you…it's to protect her from anyone who'd take her away and use her for selfish purposes."
Jeff slowly extended a trembling hand toward me, touching me, as well. "I'm just…shocked…to see Sasha like this…" He looked at my brother. "This whole thing isn't permanent, is it?"
"No…Sasha becomes human…when her skin dries out." Nick looked at me again. "Sis', are you ready to head to the beach?"
I responded by moving away from the pier and heading toward the closest shoreline. From the side, I saw Nick and Jeff heading toward the same area. Once I had the chance, I headed toward them, stranding myself so that I could become human. I hope Jeff's not upset, I thought worriedly.
When I became myself, I moved away from the tide toward Jeff. He didn't say a word. "Jeff?" I said worriedly. "Jeff, I'm sorry…I can't tell a whole lot of people, and…"
Instead of letting me continue, he got closer to me, wrapping his arms around me. After kissing my forehead, he said, "Don't be sorry…I understand." I looked at him, seeing a smile on his face. "I still love you…I'll always love you." A small smile grew on my face, though it faded as I thought of my father. Would Daddy be happy?
Just then, the ghostly man appeared with a smile on his face. "Well, I see that all went smoothly. I think your father would have been extremely proud of you." He nodded toward me. "I wish you all the best of luck."
As he disappeared, I looked at Nick, finding a reason to smile. I had a brother, a wonderful boyfriend, four cousins, and a future sister-in-law that I loved dearly. We were all in one giant family, and nothing…nothing…could change it.