Aug 05
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Igniting Writing ‘Explore’ Contest 2019, Submission by Darcy from Igniting Writing

Another ‘Explore’ themed contest entry to let you all know about! This is our third submission overall for the contest, led in tandem by Igniting Writing, Lake Erie Ink, Fighting Words and Young Writers Project, and our first from an Igniting Writing member! The entry was submitted by Darcy and is titled ‘The Whale Whisperer’ - it’s a really interesting short story with some excellent emotion in the writing, featuring a girl that can communicate with whales! To take a look at Darcy’s submission for the contest, have a read here:

Cold water caresses my face as I plunge into the deep. Already I hear the shrieks and whistles of the beautiful beluga whales lurking nearby. The sea helps me calm down; it helps me to escape the horrors of my life. In my town, Rosenstadt (translating to town of the rose), if you stick out you are said to be a witch.

Nobody knows about my secret talents. However, you can see one of my unique things. My skin is blue. A beautiful light shade of blue. Even my own mother shunned me – she was ashamed of me. Disgusted by me. So for 11 years I’ve got help from my belugas. The poor souls trapped in what are known as ‘Whale Jails’. The belugas whales held captive in there are my whales. For many years I’ve tried to free them, but it never works.

Most days I just sit (well, float!) and talk to them. You see, this makes me even more peculiar – I can talk to whales. We talk about anything really, their life, my life and everything in between. So as I continue to sink deep, deep down I think about how I’m supposed to tell them the news. My aunt, whom I’ve lived with all these years, has told me we are moving away.

“мы едем в Англию, чтобы жить лучше, найти лекарство для твоей кожи.” Those were the exact words she told me in Russian. It translates to: “Teal, we are moving to England to get a better life, find a cure for your skin.” How could she do this to me! She knows the bond I have with the whales. I simply can’t abandon them, what good will come of that? They’ll be shipped off to some aquarium where they’ll spend the rest of their days performing for spoilt children and half- witted adults who don’t know where these whales have come from. They won’t know what these whales have been through. Not at all. It infuriates me.

The metal bars come into view. I can hear happy whistles coming from my very own baby beluga: красота (translating to ‘Beauty’). I helped her mother give birth to her; it was a truly memorable day.

“Hello my little one!” I say as I stroke her cute little face through the grates. She nuzzles into my hand which sends a warm feeling rippling through my heart.

“Teal, what brings you here at this time of night?” Asks Храбрый (Brave), the leader of the group and the father to красота.

“I’m afraid I have some very tragic news.” I let the words slip out of my mouth regretfully. I wish I didn’t have to tell them.

“Go on child,” Храбрый asks expectantly.

“My aunt, she says we are going to move to England, which is a place far far away from here.” Tears stream out of my eyes like a runny nose on a winter’s day. But they float into nothingness like footprints washed away at the beach.

All the belugas are silent. Until one whom I named ‘Pizza’, the first English word I learnt, spoke up. “But that means you will leave us… you can’t do that! We need you, Teal. It’s only a matter of days before we’ll all be shipped off to the stinkin’ Sea World.” He spoke softly, with anger rumbling in his voice.

Then an idea popped into my head. A really good idea. What if I never went home? I could escape with the whales! But the only question is how can I let them out? The metal grates are practically invincible. But didn’t I see a gate on Pizza’s side of the jail? But the guards ain’t up for any sweet talk! I could steal the keys…

I swim through the water kicking my way out of the deep. When I break through the glassy surface, I see the men talking at the side, on the jetty. The keys glisten in the pale sunlight, sparkling with little droplets of snow on one of the man’s belt. I slowly tread water then reach up for the icy jetty. I push myself up until my waist is out of the water. My body welcomes the freezing cold with a shivering sensation. But I don’t feel it. You see, one of my hidden talents is the ability to withstand below freezing temperatures.

Tentatively, I reach out my hand and touch the keys. Their glacial touch burns my hand, but I don’t take my fingers away. I have to do this. The keys fall to the floor and I snatch them up like they are going to run away. I plop straight back into the water, a rush of adrenaline courses through my body as I think of what I had just done.

All the belugas bombard me with the same question: “Did you get the keys?”

A jubilant grin spreads across my face like jam being put on crispy toast. “Yes!” I say with a smile. Now it’s just a case of unlocking the gate and freeing my animals. But is this really the right choice?

Drifting around the wrong side of the Whale Jail, I hold on to the metal grates to support me against the strong currents. I take a deep breath – breathing underwater is probably the strangest ability I have – and think. I want this – or do I? Will I really sacrifice getting a cure for my abnormal skin to release these whales?

Guilt swallows me in one gulp. Who am I kidding? These whales deserve their freedom more than anybody else’s problems in the entire universe, including me and my skin. Cautiously, I pull myself around to Pizza’s bit of the jail, afraid that if I let go I’ll drift into the unknown and end up in my stupid village, where questions will put me to the test.

The keys feel heavy in my palm and they dig into my fingers. Even though I know this is what I want uncertainty gnaws at me like a hyena finishing off its kill. It feels strange. I’m never an indecisive person. But the problem is, if I escape with the belugas, where am I supposed to live? Seriously, what am I supposed to do?

Finally, I reach Pizza. Slow and steadily I unlock the gate. Bubbles float up and pass my face. Grabbing the gate, I open it. Immediately all of the belugas create a hubbub of commotion, speeding out of the whale jail like a flash of lightning. Already I hear the loud voices, heavy with thick Russian accents, screaming as they realise their precious belugas swimming at full pelt into the azure, icy horizon.

Suddenly I hear them shrieking my name and I bolt to catch up with the fast-swimming whales. Their sleek pearl-white bodies thunder through water despite their peaceful nature. It’s heart-breaking to see such innocent animals so eager to get away from something horrible.

“Hurry up!” the belugas yell at me. It is clear I’m being too slow for them. After about 20 minutes of endless, exhausting swimming, an island comes into view. Is it worth exploring? I speed up my swimming at incredible velocity. Soon, my knees graze against pebbles on the rocky floor of the shoreline.

The island is vast and is covered in shrubs of every size and colour. Green ones are dotted around on the beach, their bright evergreen leaves speckled with white snow, falling softly to the ground. Out of the corner of my eye I spot a wooden villa, smoke curling out of the chimney like a snake slithering its way up a tree. I stand up and make my way to the strange cabin. It’s worth exploring it! The belugas celebrate their escape in a small creek just offshore. It creates a happy feeling inside me to know they are safe and to know they are happy.

When I finally reach the stairs to the front door, I stop. What if this idea is dangerous? What if some psycho lives here? But I can’t risk a great possibility to find somewhere to live (whilst the belugas live outside in the beautiful ocean of course). And even better what if somebody really nice lives here and takes me in? I take my chances and knock on the mahogany wood door. An old lady opens the door. She takes a step back, her face turning as white as a sheet . “H-Hello girl. Nobody h-has been to this i-island for years. What a-are you doing here?”

“I’m looking for a place to stay, do not be alarmed,” I say slowly. “I’m not a monster or a witch. I’m a normal teenage girl. My name is Teal.”

“Well, you better come in then…” the woman finished. I step inside the threshold and I’m instantly blasted with warm air. The living room looks cosy, a fire flickers in the fireplace cocooning the room in a soft amber glow.

The lady closes the door and then approaches me. “I’m called Lena Bexova, but if you’re planning on staying you shall call me Mrs Bexova.” She takes a raspy breath, then continues, “You know how some people are welcoming and nice and let you touch everything in their house…” A wave of relief washes over me, I knew she’d take me in! “… I’m not one of those people, hands off! Plus if you are staying with me you are going to have to do some chores.”

She speaks angrily, her eyes are splinters of ice. A melancholic feeling washes over me like a freezing cold shower. I can hear the belugas shrieking my name in anguished cries – what is going on?

“I’m sorry, I think I have to go!” I sprint out of the front door and look out to the creek. Immediately my legs turn to lead, my stomach ties up in knots and a horrible metallic taste forms in my mouth. A speedboat rounds up my whales, the guards from the jail waving their rifles around whilst the belugas are screaming in terror.

I try to yell out but my mouth feels as dry as sandpaper. The water laps at my feet. Jumping into the frigid sea water, I kick my legs as fast as they’ll go. But I’m too late, crimson blood fills the water and I instantly know what has happened. They got one of my whales. They shot one of them. They injured one of them – or worse.

When I get neck-high in the ocean I realise who has been hit. Slowly sinking deep in the water, Pizza bleeds from a gaping hole in his head. My eyes fill with tears and my heart steadily breaks. I can almost hear the cracking as it shatters. The fragments of my heart drift about in my body not knowing what to do. But I snap out of it. I need to get the guards away.

I flail about in the water and splash my arms spraying the frozen water into the wintry air. “TEAL!” they yell. They probably know my name; it’s practically all over Russia. “Girl with BLUE SKIN!”

I bob about until I go beneath the waves. I look at Pizza’s lifeless body and decide that I won’t go back – maybe in the future, but not now. Until then I’ll just keep looking for a place to live with my whales. If this happened to Pizza, imagine what could happen to красота or any other members of my pod.

I sink down to the seabed, watching the rudder of the boat run away through the waves. The whales all come down to me. They join me and together we mourn.
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