At first, I pretend that I’m not trapped. How could I be? Afterall, I named myself Dick Moby—after that thick book I found floating in the sea which I promptly absorbed into my massive brain. I gave myself the name to remind myself that I am fierce. A fierce whale like me does not get trapped. Besides, I am in this beautiful sea that I call home. I know there are many dangerous parts. But I have found a part that’s pristine and blue. Many live here because it is so clean and magnificent.
I am trapped at the surface which means I can breathe freely. If I were trapped below, I would have to think faster about how to release myself so I could swim up to the surface and take a breath. If I were lower, I wouldn’t have time to be in denial.
The sun has risen but it is still low in the sky. I was sleeping not that long ago and I’m still sleepy. I would yawn if I could, but I don’t even try. I feel a tightness around my head and jaw, although I don’t see anything. Something is binding my pectoral fins, too, and cutting into me. I dare not try to flip my tail. I can feel distinctly that something is covering it. Something is draped over me back there, but it’s on the top and the bottom. I am confined. It’s as if I were imprisoned. I feel defeated and frustrated.
I must still be asleep and am having a bad dream, I think. I decide to stay on the surface while I nap. There’s no point in moving so that I’m vertical, the voice in my head says. Besides, who made up the rules that say that Sperm Whales usually sleep that way anyway?
As far as I know, my pod made up the rules. Either that or someone in the pod, saw other Sperm Whales sleeping vertically and decided to imitate them. I kind of miss my pod. Surely, they would help me if they could. But I resent them also. Even though I try not to feel bitter to them, I still do. This nightmare scenario, of being trapped in what feels like a nylon fishing net, is precisely what one of my pod members warned me about to stop me from swimming off by myself. Maybe I am dreaming.
I hope so.
Maybe I’ll go to sleep if I’m not asleep already and wake up and discover that this has all been a bad dream.
Since I’m already comfortable, I tell myself that I’m not going to move and will take my nap at the surface.
I’m not with my pod, I remark to myself, so I can do anything I want.
Then I feel guilty since my unborn calf belongs to my pod. She is part of me, and I jeopardized her safety by going off on my own. It’s not all about me. I should have stayed with my pod where I would have been safer.
Maybe I should have listened to them, I think.
But who are they to try to tell me what to do? another voice in my head responds.
I’m going to go back to sleep – if I’m not asleep already—and then I’ll wake up and discover that this was all a bad dream, I conjecture, attempting to help myself relax.
I close my eyes but I’m not sleepy. Besides, it’s too bright up here directly under the sun. So, I open my eyes again. I decide to sleep with one eye open. That way—in case I’m not having a bad dream—I’ll be able to protect my unborn calf from any predators.
I relax for a few minutes and see something approaching in the distance. First, it’s a black speck just above the waves. As I continue to watch it becomes larger and larger until a dark eye looks back at me. The round eye is in the side of a head with a narrow and beaked mouth.
I didn’t think Sea Turtles could talk so I am surprised when this one started talking in a squeaky voice.
“I usually swim under the water, but when I came up for air, I spotted you and saw that you weren’t moving. So, I came over to see if you are alright.”
“That’s nice,” I click.
I know that Sea Turtles are having a hard time, and I’m glad we’re away from the plastic island because plastic straws might detach from the outskirts of the island. The nylon fishing net that I’m trapped in feels similar to the permanence of the plastic island. It feels like whoever made this was thinking about a substance that would last forever—even if no one is around then who might see it.
Plastic straws often kill Sea Turtles who come to the surface to breathe. They often inhale the straws which kill the Turtles.
“I’m fine I was just about to take a nap,” I click.
“Hmmm. I’ve never seen your kind napping on the surface before,” says the Turtle, treading water about ten feet from me.
“Well, now you’re seeing one,” I retort, unable to keep the sarcasm out of my clicks.
Even the Sea Turtle is reinforcing the mores of my pod.
I think to myself that the Sea Turtle might be part of my dream, but I don’t say this. The languid sea turtle is just the kind of creature that would be in a dream. I’ve seen them down below before. Their domed backs look like a fortress and their outstretched front limbs end in paws that are shaped like claws. The turtles, with their black and white tiled heads and other appendages look very relaxed, but their peaceful pace might be misleading. They never seem to stop. I understand that they often travel great distances.
“I see now that you’re not fine because you’re trapped in a nylon fishing net,” squeaks the Turtle.
I silently stare down the Turtle.
This really is a dreadful dream, I think.
“Just because you don’t want this to be happening, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening,” retorts the Turtle as if reading my mind.
I am tempted to close my eye to signal to the Turtle that I want to be alone, but I just am quiet. I give the Turtle a baleful look. Even if she is a figment of my imagination, I’d prefer her not to tell me that I have been captured.
The Sea Turtle gives me a venomous look back.
“I’m sorry you’re trapped,” she squeaks. “But I’m glad that it’s you this time instead of me. I’ve seen beings who are trapped before and it’s dreadful.”
“Thanks,” I retort, drily.
“No problem,” she responds casually, as if what she just said wasn’t hurtful.
I was irritated, but now I become more so. It seems like someone in my dream should be helpful, but she’s not making matters any better—in fact I feel worse.
“I was just headed to find something to eat,” she says.
Finally, I think, hoping she goes away.
I’m so tired that I almost say this out loud. Instead, I say:
“I don’t see anything around here.”
My tone is dismissive.
After all, it’s my dream, the voice in my head booms.
I really am angry.
I blink. When I open my eye again, the Turtle is still there.
“I’m in the mood for jellyfish,” she says whimsically. “Have you seen any good ones?”
I don’t want to give away the Jellyfish I was looking at. I liked that Jellyfish a lot better than I like this Turtle. And it was a while ago when I communed with the Jellyfish. But it’s a free ocean. I’m not in charge of who eats who.
Besides, why should I care?
Janet Mason is an award-winning creative writer, teacher, and occasional blogger for such places as The Huffington Post. Her book, Tea Leaves, a memoir of mothers and daughters, published by Bella Books in 2012, was chosen by the American Library Association for its 2013 Over the Rainbow List. Tea Leaves also received a Goldie Award. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and her novel THEY, a biblical tale of secret genders (Adelaide Books – New York and Lisbon) was published by Adelaide Books, also the publisher her novel The Unicorn, The Mystery late in 2020. Her novel Loving Artemis. an endearing tale of revolution, love and marriage was published by Thorned Heart Press in August of 2022. Her prose has appeared in Sinister Wisdom, The Brooklyn Review, and in Adelaide Literary Journal.