Chapter 1: Mary the Dolphin
(Suggested audience age: 5+)
“Come on, we can’t visit the Caribbean and not go to a beach, so how about we go today?” asked Lana’s dad.
Lana didn’t want to answer until she scanned their table just to make sure she couldn’t fit in another mouthful of breakfast. She loved being on holidays and going to the breakfast buffet was a lovely way to start the day, especially when it was warm enough to sit outside for breakfast.
She studied the fruit plate. No, she couldn’t fit in any more pineapple or watermelon or papaya. She looked at Billy, her two year old brother. There was half a chocolate muffin on his plate. The other half was spread over his lips and fingers.
“Okay Dad, I’m finished. I’m full as,” said Lana.
“Full as what?” asked Lana’s mother, popping a piece of pineapple into her mouth.
“Full as a fat lady’s undies,” said Lana’s dad before Lana could answer.
“Daaaad! That’s so gross,” said Lana.
“We could stay here and hang around the pool, but wouldn’t it be nicer to find a quiet beach where we could swim and relax?” said Lana’s dad.
Lana looked across at the huge resort swimming pool that was surrounded by palm trees. The water was a gorgeous ice blue color. It was a hard choice. Although the pool looked great, it didn’t have a water slide, which made a big difference as Lana found water slides irresistible.
“Are there any sharks at the beach, Dad?”
“Oh, sometimes there are tourist sharks, but they are mostly harmless.”
“Okay, then,” said Lana.
By the time Lana’s dad found a beach he was happy with they were a very long way from their resort. They were a long way from anywhere, really. Lana was glad to get out of the rental car because it smelled like her Uncle Rex. He smoked and used awful after-shave.
After unpacking their supplies, Lana’s mother lay face-down on her towel, with her feet pointing to the water. She began reading a home decorating magazine.
Lana’s father tried to use his cell-phone to find out some sport scores but they were so far out of town there was no signal. He gave up and started reading a golf magazine because he liked to read about expensive golf clubs.
Lana’s little brother Billy was closer to the water, playing with a bucket and spade. Lana looked around. There were no boats or people anywhere. There were no birds. There weren’t even any clouds. It was a small beach in the shape of a horseshoe with some bushes on one side and a rocky outcrop on the other side. Lana listened to the waves and Billy talking to his bucket and spade.
She ran her fingers and toes through the white sand which was as fine as confectioner’s sugar and just a little ticklish. She looked up and saw her father getting sleepy.
He asked Lana to keep an eye on Billy while he had a snooze. He put the golf magazine on his chest and tilted his big straw hat forward over his eyes.
Her mother had stopped reading and was also asleep. Lana walked down to the waters edge and let the waves take turns at washing off the sand from her feet and ankles. She looked out at the beautiful blue water that was so clear it looked good enough to drink.
Then she froze. There was a shark no more than 50 yards away. Lana was about to turn and quickly pick up Billy when she looked again at the shape. “It’s a dolphin,” she realized.
She wondered why a dolphin would be so close to the beach. That was strange. Even stranger, it wasn’t moving.
Lana looked back to her parents. They were both asleep. She decided to have a closer look at the dolphin.
She walked into the water. Billy saw this.
“Wim, wim,” he said, holding up his arms to be picked up.
Lana knew she couldn’t possibly take him into the water with her but she didn’t want him waking up her parents because they had jet lag, whatever that was.
She needed something to occupy Billy. She walked back to their belongings and spotted the key ring for their rental car. It had a gold medallion with the logo of the rental company and several keys. She knew Billy liked to jangle keys and the shiny gold medallion might interest him.
She took the keys to Billy, shook them to show they jangled, waved the gold medallion in front of him, and then gave them to him. The keys immediately had his full attention.
Lana waded toward the dolphin, turning back every few steps to make sure Billy hadn’t moved.
The water was getting deeper and it was soon up to her chest. She was about 5 yards from the dolphin when she saw the problem. The dolphin was stuck on a small sand bar. As Lana reached the sandbar the water became shallow so that it was only half way up to her knees.
“You are stuck you poor thing,” she said to the dolphin.
“Yes, can you help me?” said the dolphin.
Lana nearly fell backwards in surprise that the dolphin spoke to her.
“I didn’t know dolphins could speak,” she said.
“We don’t want humans to know that we can talk. If they knew, they would put even more of us in zoos and water parks. But this is an emergency. What is your name, little girl?”
“My name is Lana, what’s yours?”
“My dolphin name sounds like Mary, so you can call me that if you like. Can you try and roll me over?”
Lana stood next to Mary the Dolphin. The first thing she noticed was that Mary really smelled strongly of fish. Her skin was smooth and oily. Lana tried to push Mary back out to sea but she couldn’t.
“I’m too heavy aren’t I?” said Mary.
“Yes, I think so,” said Lana looking back at the beach. Billy was at the water’s edge and he appeared to be waving at her. Her parents were still asleep.
“My skin is starting to dry out. I need to get back into the water,” said Mary.
As Lana thought about the problem she was nearly knocked over by a wave.
“That’s it. I will push you just as the wave comes in,” she said.
“Do you mean push me toward the shore?” asked Mary.
“Yes, it is the only way. If it works you can swim around the sandbar.”
Lana went to the other side of Mary and waited for a big wave. Just as it was about to land on Mary, Lana pushed with all her strength.
Mary was free!
“Oh thank-you, thank-you Lana, you are a very nice human being,” said Mary.
As Lana waded back to the shore Mary swam next to her.
“Would you like to come for a ride on my back?” asked Mary.
“Yes I would, but I’d better ask my parents first,” said Lana.
Lana got to the shore while Mary waited in deeper water. Billy was covering his legs with sand.
“Where are the keys Billy?” she asked.
He did not reply. She again said “Keys” and pretended to be rattling the keys. Now Billy understood. He pointed to the water and said “Wim.”
Lana felt sick. He wasn’t waving before, he was throwing the keys into the water, in which case she was in big trouble. They were on a remote beach with no cell-phone reception. She began to frantically scoop the sand away from around him, just in case he hadn’t thrown the keys in the water. She found nothing.
She ran toward the water and looked but she could not see any keys.
“What’s the matter?” asked Mary.
Lana explained what had happened and that now she and her family were stranded. She described the key ring with the gold medallion.
Mary went under water. A few minutes passed before Mary surfaced with the keys in her mouth.
“I have saved you and now you have saved me,” said Lana, taking the key ring from Mary’s mouth.
“I know where there are more of those,” said Mary.
“More keys?” asked Lana.
“No, more of those yellow discs, would you like to see. It’s not far.”
Lana hesitated. She looked back at her parents. Her mother was reading again, still on her stomach facing away from the beach.
“Okay, I’ll be back in a second.”
Lana walked back, picked up Billy, and put him in front of her mother. She put the keys on her mother’s towel.
“I’m just going for a ride on a dolphin’s back,” said Lana.
“Okay, don’t past Argentina, sweetie,” said her mother.
“I’ll only get up to my knees wet,” replied Lana, glad that her mother didn’t believe her.
Lana walked back to the water, picking up Billy’s bucket as she went. After threading her arm through the bucket handle, she got on to Mary’s back and hugged her.
“Hold on, here we go,” said Mary.
Lana was scared and thrilled at the same time. Mary was heading for the rocky outcrop. She drew alongside a big rock.
“Hop on there and give me the bucket,” said Mary.
Lana slid on to the rock and looked down. The water was clear but it was very deep. There was seaweed and some rocks on the sea floor.
Mary put the bucket in her mouth and dived. Lana could see her putting her nose into the seaweed. After a few minutes Mary returned holding the bucket. Lana took it and couldn’t believe her eyes. It was full of strange gold coins.
“Do you like them?” asked Mary.
“Oh yes they are beautiful.” said Lana.
“I can get more.”
“No, I better go back now, thanks Mary.”
“Of course, jump on.”
Mary returned Lana to the shore in quick time. No-one noticed her return. She wanted to kiss Mary but she just smelled too fishy! So Lana gave her a pat and wished her good-bye.
“Will I see you again?” asked Mary.
“I don’t know. We don’t live here, we are just here on holidays. Anyway, I will look out for you if we come back to this beach,” said Lana.
Mary swam off. Lana called out “Hey Mary, stay away from sandbars!”
Mary splashed her tail and laughed.
Lana rejoined her parents.
“Who were you talking to?” asked her Mother.
“Oh, just a dolphin I met that gave me a pot of gold,” said Lana.
“That’s nice, dear.”
Lana put Billy’s bucket full of gold coins in front of her father, splashing him with a few drops of water as she leaned forward.
He tilted his hat up, opened his eyes, glanced at the bucket of gold and closed his eyes for a moment before he jumped up and examined the coins as if his eyes were microscopes.
“This is pirate treasure. These coins must be hundreds of years old. Where did you get them?” he said.
Lana thought for a moment. He would never believe that a talking dolphin gave them to her.
“They were in some seaweed,” she replied.
When Billy saw his bucket was being used by others he began banging his spade on the sand while he held out his other hand demanding its return.
“Sorry, Billy but I will have to look after your bucket for now. I promise I will return it. Here, you can play with these,” said his father, picking up the keys for the rental car.
“Dad, Billy will – oh nothing,” said Lana. She lay down on her towel, closed her eyes and felt the warm sun on her skin. She could hear her parents talking about the gold as she became sleepy. Her father said finding the gold now was a sign he should buy a new set of golf clubs. Her mother said something about new curtains and a kitchen renovation. Lana fell asleep while remembering how much fun it was to ride on the back of Mary the Dolphin.
Lana saved Mary, a dolphin that was trapped,
While Billy lost keys and his parents napped.
Mary was so grateful that she looked for the keys,
And soon sniffed them out with the greatest of ease.
When she saw them attached to a golden medallion,
She knew there were more from an old Spanish Galleon.
Lana rode Mary to the site of the treasure,
And waited while she filled a full bucket’s measure.
She could never forget her trip to the beach,
Finding a bucket of gold and a dolphin with speech!
Copyright © 2012 Paclit Publishing