Tuesday, June 2, 2015
WHALE OF A TIME: The Mark and Claire story
We enter an upscale restaurant in Hawaii at twilight. Teri and Scott are at a small corner table, angrily throwing breadsticks at each other’s faces and demanding escalating levels of commitment from their four week relationship.
“We have to adopt a special needs dog tomorrow!’ screams Scott, his face a furious shade of purple.
“No!” shrieks Teri, a blood vessel bursting in her eye. “I need us to invest all our money into starting a local homegoods store! We must be lovers AND business partners!”
Across the room, on the breezy open porch overlooking the ocean, Whale Scientist Mark pulls out a chair for the lovely Claire. This song begins to play softly in the background. Mark gazes over Claire’s ample figure and questions if he’s ever seen such beautiful woman. Her snout is lightly sprinkled with barnacles, and the soft glow of the fading Hawaii sun illuminates her pitch black, softball sized eyes. Claire shifts uncomfortably in her wicker chair, accustomed to being studied but unused to this kind of attention. Her 3.75 meter long flipper nervously plays with the hem of her Laura Ashley dress. She borrowed it from another girl in her pod and wasn’t quite sure if she could pull off this kind of outfit.
Next to the calm, quiet sound of the ocean, the silence between them becomes unbearable.
”Mark, I…” she begins just as Mark nervously stammers, “Claire, look...” They sheepishly laugh at their awkward beginning. Mark then gently pushes a strand of Claire’s auburn hair back behind her blowhole. “Claire,” he says gently, and then repeats her name, more firmly this time, “Claire…we’ve been colleagues for quite some time.”
Claire gives a soft smile, showing a brief glimmer a baleen. “Yes, Mark, we’ve worked together for over two years, and I’ve been happy to help you with your research.”
Mark suddenly slams his fist on the table, the silverware shifting with the force. “Dammit, Claire, but is that all you feel?! Happy to help? Happy for our relationship to stay the same, for us to be colleagues and nothing more?!” Claire gives a sharp gasp, the spray from her blowhole creating a fine mist that sparkles in the candlelit.
Claire then turns her gaze out to the open sea, thinking to herself that while she was used to a pressure of 1,640 feet below the ocean, that was nothing compared to what she was feeling now. Her voice drops to a whisper “Mark, it isn’t that simple.”
“Isn’t it Claire? Isn’t the the oldest story in the world? What could be more simple than love?”
Claire’s eyes flicker down to stare at her flukes as she speaks in a voice laced with pain, “But it’s different with you and me, Mark. People don’t understand us. They don’t WANT to understand us.”
Mark’s hand gently falls to the side of Claire’s flat U-shaped head and he slowly guides her eyes to meet his gaze. Mark’s voice catches as he whispers fervently, “All I understand is that the past two years studying you have been the happiest I have ever been. I met you under the ocean, but when I’m with you I feel like I can finally breathe.”
Claire raises her fin to press Mark’s hand more firmly against her cheek, she sighs at the way his warm skin feels against the vast bumpy surface of her ventral plates. “Mark,” she breathes out deeply. “Mark, you’ve been researching me for 24 months, don’t tell me you don't know my 1,000 lb heart.”
Now Mark closes his eyes as soft tears of happiness well to the surface. A slow smile spreads across his face as he breaths in the heady scent of krill. “Oh, Claire.” he sighs “Who knew that love was the greatest experiment of them all?”