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Donna sighed as she rummaged through the boxes. Every box contained some antique, a relic from her father’s time as a deep sea diver. Whether they were the precious log books that he’d written over the years or the carefully preserved fossils that he had been allowed to keep after the valuable ones were handed to the government, every memory was intertwined with his life. Donna had not lived very long with her parents, their lifestyle being somewhat tumultous, she’d been fostered by her Aunt Macy in the city. 

This was her first trip home, for her father’s funeral. All Donna had heard of him were the stories of him being a legendary deep sea diver. He was somewhat of a celebrity in this coastal cove, people almost treated him with a divine respect. That was one of the reasons why they wanted his possessions to erect a tribute section in their museum. Donna didn’t think much of her father. If anything, she resented her parents somewhat and found them…bizzare. 

When Donna found the gray photo slip out from between the brittle pages of an especially worn logbook still smelling of the ocean wind, Donna could not help but look. Her blue eyes widened as she stared at the photo. 

A young brother-sister were seated on the wooden jetty. The ships and pier stood against a blurred ocean. The frizzy haired sister had an arm curled around the younger brother. Donna blinked. She had never seen this photo before. It was still in a good condition despite the years and the fact that it had been preserved in the logbook meant that her father valued it. 


Donna fetched the photo to her mother who was occupied with another box. On seeing it Mom’s icy blue eyes sparkled with delight as she gripped the rectangle. “Oh Donna! Where did you find this?” Donna showed her the logbook. 

”Your dad loved this photo. That’s him beside Aunt Macy.” Mom’s pale lips stretched into a smile over her wrinkled face as her eyes became wistful. “Macy was so remorseful for what happened after but your dad said it was the best day in his life for that was the day he met Jack.” 

Donna’s mouth was agape. Why, Aunt Macy had never mentioned this story. ”What do you mean, Mom? Who is Jack?” 

Mom giggled. 

”Oh Donna, I’m sorry that we kept this from you. You see, we didn’t think you’d believe it. That day, when this picture was taken Aunt Macy and your dad got into a fight. Just minutes before they had been hugging, and the next minute they were trying to shove each other off the jetty. The commotion caught the attention of the adults, the riggers, sailors and workmen. Your dad fell into the water. Macy screamed. Hearing her every available man jumped into the currents to rescue your dad.” 

Donna stood transfixed as she listened to the tale. Mom shook her head fondly as she chuckled. 

”High tide. Quite difficult for even the best of swimmers to catch up to a drowning toddler. But Jack did. Jack swiftly brought him ashore. Your dad remembered it quite vividly.” Donna’s mouth was still agape. She waited for Mom to continue. 

”Jack the dolphin. He and your dad became the best of friends after that. In fact, it was because of Jack that he decided to become a deep sea diver instead of pursuing a life in the city. Jack never harmed any ship, a creature with emotional intelligence, he worked with the sailors to safeguard the vessels past the dangerous straits. We all owe him thanks.” 

Donna’s brows furrowed as Mom’s eyes were clouded with tears.

A fictitious tale? No…

”Jack might still be waiting for him…” Mom sniffled. 

Donna gulped. She stared at the photo as though she wanted to burn every word into her memory. Donna didn’t believe her mother’s words outright. It could have been a hallucination, a way to process a rather traumatic event. 

”Have you ever seen Jack?” Donna folded her arms across her chest, feeling a sudden chill. The house was always drafty with the wooden slats often complaining during strong weather, yet this chill was one of realisation. Mom shook her head. 

”I didn’t have to see him to know he was real, the sailors and deep sea divers have enough experiences with him. And your dad…could call him.” Mom drew a dog whistle that hung from a silver chain around her neck. A tear slinked down her cheek. 

Donna took it. She had to find out the truth. She didn’t like this town, the traditions and superstitions were all too strange and mystical for a pragmatic person like her. But she meant to uncover the truth. 

That night she went to the jetty. The years had changed every facet that was in the photograph but Donna walked to the one that stretched out to the deep waters. The sea shone calmly in the light of the half moon. Donna stood for a moment. Hesitating. Then she brought the whistle to her lips and blew. She waited. 

For a long moment nothing stirred. Even the wind held its breath. Then the dark waters begin to swirl and swish as a shape bubbled from under it. Donna stood paralysed as she watched the great dolphin break past the surface. Pure white as snow with a long snout and graceful fins. Its dark eyes glistened in the moonlight. It let out a little shriek. A greeting call. Then it studied her curiously. It shimmered like marble. 

Donna was rendered speechless by its ethereal beauty. She bowed deeply. Tears were streaming down her cheeks. 

”Jack.” She began softly. “Thank you. Dad…is gone. I am sorry.” 

It took her all the effort she could muster to utter those words. The dolphin regarded its import. The piercing cry that welled forth from Jack was capable of shattering even the stoniest of the hearts. Donna watched helplessly as Jack grieved. He broke into a low mournful song that echoed through the waves and the still air. Donna felt it vibrate within her bones. She shut her eyes.

When the wail died down, Donna stared at Jack. Jack ducked his head. He seemed to be asking for comfort. Gently, Donna reached out an arm and patted his round slimy head. He was as frigid as the trenches of the ocean, yet Donna felt lighter. She patted Jack until he disappeared underneath the waves.

She watched the white shape cut through the waters. When it reached a distance it gave a low rumble that sounded like a thanks. 

”Goodbye, friend.” 

Donna stared at the whistle. This was something she would keep. 
She hoped she could meet Jack again. 

I wrote this tale for Sadje’s WDYS #175.

It has been my pleasure to write a short story after a long spell of poetry, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.

I bridged the photo prompt with a real life story of a Risso dolphin called Pelorus Jack that lived during the 1888’s. He safeguarded many ships in the Cook Strait of New Zealand, leading them safely through dangerous passes. So helpful was Jack that the government enacted a protection law so that he could not be harmed by poachers.

While my story is fictional, Pelorus Jack was indeed a kind hearted soul. 💖


Published by Aboli Mane

Poet. Writer. Blogger. I post short reads, and poetry on A Writer In The Room. I published my debut poetry book "An Aster's Solitude" in 2019. Currently: Writing my first novel, an animal fantasy in a fictional world. Follow me to keep yourself updated.

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