The Mermaid and the Dolphin
by Maura McGoorty
Wooden Mermaid Hugel & Fils, Riquewihr, France
© Charles O'Rear/CORBIS
The dolphin held the weeping mermaid as best he could. His flippers were made for
other things than comforting his best friend who wasted her tears. But the weeping
mermaid would not be comforted. She sobbed her pearl tears as they floated away into
the world of water surrounding them, netting them in a cascade of tiny swirling pearls.
"Don't cry so, Sirah. You are wasting all your pearls! Look, you are crying
enough pearls to decorate a coral temple," Davi the dolphin worried. Sirah's
golden-green scales were showing too much blue edge.
"Yes, yes, I'm all right," Sirah the mermaid replied, shuddering. The pearls
slowly ceased to spin from her eyes.
Strands of sunlight threaded through the rocking forest of kelp close above them.
A school of friendly angel fish swam through. "Hello, hello, pardon, opps, my
fault, hello, good-bye, good-bye, Good Swimming." Their tiny voices faded more
quickly than the flashes of light on their flanks and fins as Sirah followed them
with her bright green eyes.
"Poor little things. Them, you, me, the coral temples, all of us are in danger.
What are we going to do, Davi? When the two-leggers come and invade with their monster
ships and machines? Their steel monster towers to suck the old blood of the Mother
they call 'oil' from below the waters. Our nests and villages will be destroyed.
Our crops ruined. Our hunting grounds poisoned. How many times must we race away
from the invasions, from the leaking oil? How many lives lost? Look at our village
yonder. Think of what it was like when I was a small-fry. It is a sea-ghost of itself.
I think we must do something to stop them... Damn the air breathers!"
"We are air breathers, too", Davi the dolphin murmured, thinking of his
long lost pod. His silver sleek body warmed her as his words chilled her. The sea
birds had brought the bad tidings - the two-leggers were assembling a vast fleet
to "drill for oil because of an energy crisis", whatever that was.
"How dare they think everything in the world is theirs!" she fumed. "Don't
they realize they are just one of the beings here?" Sirah's scales turned a
coral pink at the edges.
"I don't think so, Sirah. They only see themselves." The dolphin tried
scratched an itchy spot on his long nose. Sirah helped him since he couldn't reach
"What are we going to do?" Her words became bubbles and drifted to the
surface where garbage from boats and ships floated. They were silent for a while
floating like simple fish below the kelp.
"We must go to see Nature's Children, "Davi said quietly. We must go to
see the North Wind, we must go to see Summer, we must go to see the Queen Waters
and ask them to come." The dolphin petted her bronze brown shoulder and stroked
her long green hair as a comforting gesture while her eyes became larger and brighter
as she realized what Davi was saying.
"Do you mean to say we should ask Nature's Children to interfere? To break the
Dance? Do we dare?"
"Do we dare not? Anyway, the two-leggers have already broken the Dance. Nature's
Children will fight back, one way or another. We may be too late, but I hope They
will listen and give the two-leggers a lesson to remember. But if Nature's Children
rise in unforgiving fury, we will all suffer."
"Davi, do you know what you are suggesting?" The mermaid looked at her
friend who looked happy even while they spoke of such a serious matter
The dolphin was resolute. "We have no other choice. We have tried everything
else. We have sent dreams to their young but the elders do not listen. Knowing the
hungers, we shared the fishes until the fishes are exhausted and we too, are hunted.
We shared the Rain but they are poisoning Her. She weeps acid into our waters. My
flippers are often sore and raw from the changed water. My pod is dead, I am the
only survivor from the oil spill of the Valdez vessel. We must ask Nature's Children
to stop the two-leggers from doing further harm. If They are willing, the Ice Water
will melt as Summer moves north and the North Wind blows down their steel towers,
the Queen Waters will heave their ships like their children's toys. It may be the
only thing the two-leggers understand." Davi the dolphin burped politely. He
was not used to such long speeches.
Sirah clapped her hands and laughed. She glowed a warm green. "Yes,
It's worth a try! O Davi, you always come up with such good ideas." Davi's mood
didn't match his open and friendly face. Having traveled as a sea refugee for a long
while after the terrible oil spill that wiped out his family and way of life, he
understood better than the mermaid what the consequence might be.
The two friends prepared for their journey as best they could. They gathered some
food, clams, abolone, seaweeds sour and sweet, and said farewell to the remants of
the village under the sea and set off north. Sirah carried her trident spear, all
she had left of her ancestors' gear. They followed the current like their kind did
for millions of years. They swam close to the surface so Davi could get his periodic
breaths of fresh air. The surface was warmer, dirtier. And noiser. Sirah had a hard
time keeping clean and periodically slowed down to pick cigarettes butts out of her
hair. She ignored the sad mess. Their food supply was running low. They swam north.
Late one night as they swam through the silvered waters filtering moonlight, Davi
declared, "I smell a big city."
"How can you tell?" asked the mermaid.
"I know that smell anywhere. Sewage." He wrinkled his long, tapered snout.
"Yuck! Why are our waters the two-leggers dumping place?"
"So they can't smell their own ----!" Sirah joked. They decided to swim
out further to avoid the polluted water.
The next morning when Sirah and Davi searched for food, they found very little and
what they did find tasted a little odd. Davi noticed blue streaks in Sirah's skin
but said nothing because he didn't want to alarm her. It must be the water's lack
of enough oxygen affecting them. Like most scaled beings Sirah took in air through
her gills, unlike Davi who claimed a closer biology to the two-leggers and surfaced
frequently for air. They swam north.
That evening the two friends rested on the surface, enjoying the dancing sea and
sky. They rolled like seal pups on the smooth green waves while the moon rose in
the sky dome of abolone shell pinks and blues. They floated on their backs watching
the Dance unfold. Sea birds came to visit and share the news. From a distance a migrating
whale pod saluted the weary travelers.
"O Davi! I wish we could travel that fast and far like the whales. Maybe they
would consent to tow us along. I could make a kelp rope."
"Sirah, are you getting lazy? We only have come a thousand leagues and we have
a long way to swim..." Davi stopped, catching a movement from the corner of
his eye. Turning his head for a better look, he barely believed what he saw. A massive
mountain of dark shadow hurtled over the waters like a rocket straight toward them.
A horrible roar filled the air.
"Sirah! Swim, swim for your life! Dive landward!"
A vast Blackness was upon them.
Bottlenose Dolphin and Swimmer in Red Sea, Egypt
© Jeffrey L. Rotman/CORBIS
*** To Be Continued ***
Copyright © 2001 by Maura McGoorty
If you enjoyed this chapter e-mail me. Please come back August 6, 2001 for
the next issue of West By Northwest online magazine and the exciting continuing story
of The Mermaid and the Dolphin.