Dad wonders what he did wrong, what made me end up a dolphin. He wants me out of the sea, away from my pod, he wants me to grow legs and walk. He doesn’t know what it’s like; you float, you jump, plunge into the depths, you’re underwater, you’re up, you’re down, but dad has always walked on solid ground, has always been a man of the land.
Dad talks and talks but I can’t hear him. He feels like he should save me, I’m fine dad, I tell him, but dad doesn’t listen, like there’s a barrier between us, like sound doesn’t travel between worlds. He rubs his eyes, like he’s never seen a dolphin. I want to tell him, being a dolphin is not that bad. It comes with benefits he can’t see or understand. He drags me out but I keep slipping back and he can’t see I’m different, I need water to survive. The world is overwhelming, the world is a bad place, when I step on the ground. I beg him to leave me alone but dad keeps dragging me out of peace, into reality, like he did when I was born.
Dad says he didn’t teach me this way. I say he’s wrong. His people take the easy way up, they’re like us, only we don’t share the same goals. They’re after money, success, we’re after pure joy. Try it, dad, you’ll never have felt this happy before, I tell him and he’s almost ready, desperate for happiness, but he steps back, like he wouldn’t dare.
Dad falls down on his knees, he’s talking about war, the good guys lost, he says, as if this was obvious, expected, as if informing me of things and facts everybody knows but me, but I’m done with the land, done with his people, done, done, done, for I’m a dolphin, jumping high, in ecstasy, then I dive back into the madness, the madness all over, madly laughing, watching the world burn, or flood, or fall apart and I don’t care, it doesn’t hurt, not anymore, not like before, to see the world disintegrate.
The story came as a feeling at first, or a need perhaps. A familiar need to escape reality, to dissociate, not only because of the pandemic, but mainly due to the brutality we’ve all been witnessing in the world. The song by Leonard Cohen comes as a reminder that many people have felt this way before, which feels comforting, like we’re all in this together, and also encouraging, because somehow, there’s hope that another world is possible and unbridled realism won’t win in the end.
Mileva Anastasiadou is a neurologist from Athens, Greece. A Pushcart, Best of the Net, Best Microfiction and Best Small Fictions nominated writer, her work can be found in many journals, such as Litro, Jellyfish Review, Ruminate, Okay Donkey, Open Pen and others.