‘Another day,’ was the first thing I thought that morning; an odd thing to think, since days usually don’t tend to begin for me. It always seems like one big day, only things tend to get darker sometimes. Still, acknowledging days exist may help me get organised, and my brain certainly needs organisation. So many thoughts, and I never put them in order, even if I have all the time in the world. Then again, I suppose it’s easy for one’s mind to get jumbled when he has to share it with someone rather vocal. Maybe I should stop thinking altogether.
As I noticed what the sun was heralding, I noticed a low gurgling in my stomach. Breakfast. Isn’t that what humans called it? I couldn’t remember where I heard it, but I thought it was correct. And breakfast was all around me.
Eating defenceless fish is all I’m good for. That’s what they said. I’m meant to be nothing but a fearsome predator. Well, if that’s my lot in life, I thought I better well embrace it. There was nothing I could do to change it, so why not just go along with it? I’d be happier, and maybe he would be quieter.
Perusing through the ocean, I came across a particularly nice looking fish, with silver scales shimmering in the sunlight. Nice choice. His back was turned to me. Good. Slowly I swam towards him, my shadow enveloping him to eliminate his shimmer. I opened my jaws, my rows of fangs exposed. That fish would have the honour of seeing those lovely choppers first hand and – what was I even thinking?
He is a fish, I said to myself. Fish don’t have minds; he’s nothing but food for me.
Just eat him.
Your mouth is open. Now close it.
There you go.
He noticed me. Then he rapidly swam away before I could devour him. Maybe he just wasn’t worth…
You idiot! You aren’t going to let him get away, are you?
What choice did I have?
I could still see him, flapping his tail. His back may have been turned, but I knew he had a smug little grin on his face. He escaped a shark. He’s a hero. As if my species doesn’t get insulted enough. I burst through schools of guppies, zoomed past the rippling plants, my eyes set on that miniature meal. He knew I was following him, so he tried to swim faster, faster, but it wasn’t going to last. I had more energy than he did, he didn’t stood a chance. They never stood a chance. I’d caught his brethren without trying. What can he do?
Another set of jaws.
More rows of teeth.
The fish got eaten, but not by me. Another shark, another Great White had swam by and had munched the little nipper, a triumphant grin beaming in my face. A reminder of what I was, and what I was not. Then I noticed her eyes. Was it? It was.
That champion grin shrunk as her eyes bulged. ‘Derek.’
‘Yes.’ A few seconds of us swimming in silence, and Acacia departed, leaving me alone.
Go after her.
Instantly, I did as he requested, swimming by her side. She seemed to cringe upon seeing me, so I smiled in hopes that she would do the same.
‘Hello,’ I said.
‘Oh, hello, Derek,’ she said, rolling her eyes, ‘I’m busy today, so don’t expect to get any sympathy from me.’
I looked up at the sun’s reflection in the water for a while before answering. ‘I don’t want sympathy.’
‘Oh really?’ She turned her head towards me, one eye larger than the other. ‘You’re not going to whinge at me about how killing is bad and we should all be depressed for doing it?’
‘No. I realise that I was put in this ocean for a reason, and I should just do what I was born to do.’ She still had that look on her face. ‘By that, I mean hunting…’
‘Good,’ she replied, her face still frozen in that grimace. We swam side by side for a little while longer before she pierced the silence with a ‘Well?’
‘Well, don’t you have hunting to do?’
‘It’s just…’I stared at the sun again. ‘We haven’t seen each other in a while…’
Before I could say anymore, Acacia floated away from me, scoffing slightly. I watched her for a little while, then began to set off on my own way.
Nice going there.
Why didn’t she smile? I remember being with her, and every time I saw her, she had a huge grin on her face. Always. She smiled when she talked to me. She smiled when I spoke about my doubts. She smiled when having a go at me. She wasn’t smiling and I wasn’t sure what to think about that. Maybe I should smile more.
Perhaps I was meant to meet her today. Perhaps I had changed as a result of seeing her again. Yes. I doubted my species no more. I was a shark, that’s what I was born to do, that’s what I was born to be. Time for breakfast.
Here fishie fishie.
Just like that, a fish swam past me. A small fish. Defenceless…innocent. I had to eat him.
There we go. In one bite, I, Derek the shark, just devoured that fish. He’s gone now. I did him in. I ended his small, insignificant life.
That should make me smile. So I did.
I was once again performing my nightly routine of maneuvering around the waters, waiting for the light to come. As I swam, I thought back to all those moments of pitying myself. I couldn’t believe I had lived so many years with those thoughts in my head without going crazy. I actually think I had contemplated suicide at times. What good would that do? It would just prove that I was worthless, and I didn’t want to be worthless.
It was really stormy that night, so I viewed the high waves collapsing and lightning illuminating the air. These were the types of nights I would usually enjoy, as there was something about the rapid movement of the waves and ocean that gave me that extra bit of energy. As I heard the rumbles and the splashing, I cartwheeled around the ocean, chuckling to myself as I did so.
That night, I was fairly surprised to see more of my species circling around, cheering and crying out in excitement. They usually do this when a disaster occurs, which they seem to think of as an entertaining spectacle. Us sharks have to keep moving to survive, so they couldn’t just keep stationary.
Slowly I swam towards them, my face beaming. ‘What’s all the excitement?’
‘Oh, him! Perfect!’ groaned one of the “crowd”, ‘If you must know, Derek, we’re watching that ship up there.’
The shark rolled his eyes. ‘Because the humans are going to drown, why else?’
I decided I would get a closer look at this spectacle, so I slightly raised my head above the ocean, making sure my gills were still in the water. I even noticed some other shark heads peeping up out of the sea with me. Of course, I moved back and forth to prevent suffocation.
With lightning as illumination, I saw the humans scatter on their ship. It rocked back and forth as the waves crashed against its surface, while the passengers ran to the lifeboats in hopes of fleeing the terror. The humans rowed faster than a cosmopolitan sailfish, escaping the ship, under attack by the vengeful storm monster.
But what caught my eye was not the storm, but the fact I could make out very clearly, a person falling off the ship into the deadly sea. The storm laughed at this human’s predicament, but I pondered on what to do with this person. Should I save it?
I now decided to seize this chance, as it was the one I had been waiting for! If I were to save this unfortunate person, I would have done something good, so maybe it would invalidate the ‘Sharks are evil’ rule, and I might even gain some…LOVE.
I darted under the water, my eyes fixed on the drowning figure. The other sharks had their eyes fixed on the prey, but I swam faster than they even attempted to and grabbed the person with my finned back. As I emerged to the surface, only my famous fin visible, the person started coming to, and held onto my fin, as I quickly searched for land.
‘What in the name of…’ the person started muttering. The voice was female.
Why should I be helping her? She probably feels no LOVE for sharks like me. Why should I show her LOVE? Maybe I should just let her die DIE DIE DIE!
No! This underhanded voice was the very thing I was trying to defeat. I was going to be this human’s salvation! Never again will she think of sharks as bloodthirsty murderers of the deep! She will live to tell the tale of my deed!
I held a male voice cry out into the darkness as the female on my back held onto my fin. Soon, I began to feel the woman being lifted off my back, which made me assume she had found another form of salvation. I lifted my head out of the ocean once again and actually saw the woman, Jenny, I assumed, in person, sitting in a lifeboat.
She was quite tall, with black hair tied into a ‘ponytail’ (human lingo I remember hearing from somewhere) . She wore a light blue garment, something I heard was called a ‘dress’ without any coverings for the arms.
Next to Jenny was an elderly man. This character had completely white hair, with large eyebrows that almost seemed to meet and circular glasses. He donned a yellow, sleeve-less ‘shirt’ and purple leg coverings that only covered the top half of his legs.
While I was admiring the two people, Jenny turned around in my direction, causing me to dive back into the sea. I circled the boat from underneath, listening to what they had to say.
‘Thank you, Grandpa!’ Jenny spoke, smiling, wrapping her arms around the elderly human.
‘Jenny, my girl,’ the grandpa chuckled with joy, ‘I thought I was going to lose you.’
‘I thought I was a goner too.’ Jenny admitted.
‘That,’ Jenny continued, ‘that shark saved my life.’
‘What are you talking about?’ the grandpa replied.
‘I was on the back of a shark. I felt like I was drowning at first, but then I began rising out of the water. Next thing I knew I saw that shark’s fin. It was pretty weird.’
But then, did grandpa believe her? No, he didn’t. He reminded Jenny about how evil sharks are and about the fact that they are nasty man-eating carnivores. He used terms like ‘swallow you whole’, ‘wicked beasts’ and even ‘soulless killers’.
I wanted to disagree but how could I?
I pulled my head out of the water and followed these two as they rowed back to the shore. I heard them discuss about how happy they were to see each other, especially after they both thought one was going to die. They returned to a dock near a lush sandy beach, where they departed, my eyes fixed on the female every second.
‘What an idiot,’ I heard behind me. I swam beneath the waves again, coming across more of my kind, their eyes angrily boring into me.
This is what happens, Derek…
‘How could you?’ groaned a shark, shaking his ‘head’, ‘You saved a human. Saved her. You should have let her die. Humans…humans suck.’
‘But I…I just wanted to help.’ I replied, ‘What makes you think humans suck anyway?’
There was no reply.
‘If you were human Derek, I’d have let you drown,’ grumbled another shark, ‘You shame us all.’ At that, they swam away.
You shame us all.
Maybe they were right. How can LOVE ever emerge from a source of hate like a shark? Sharks and humans were sworn enemies, they could never live in harmony with each other. Humans could perform such tasks as discover scientific breakthroughs, help people and teach. I was supposed to be a killer.
I couldn’t get Jenny off my mind. Her image was in my mind and I couldn’t get rid of it. I kept imagining her accepting me. I would talk to her about how I felt about my existence, and she would take heed to every word I say, and she would give me comfort and tell me how much she LOVED me even though nobody else would. She would be like the LOVING family I never had. I would experience happiness for the first time.
Humans only care about themselves, Derek. Don’t dwell on them.
Not YOU again.
You’re not human. You’re a shark. Deal with it.
Did I actually WANT to be human? Was I envious of everything humans had? Hair, clothes, arms, legs…
Sharks had no purpose other than to kill everything in sight. Humans actually had a real purpose. To help others, to make the world a better place. Of course, many seemed to think the slaughter, or should I even say martyr, of sharks would help the environment and the world people live in. I probably agreed with them. I had escaped death hundreds of times, but did anyone care that people wanted to kill me? No. I even remember my fellow sharks cheering at one of my near-death experiences. They wanted me dead too. No more Derek and his madcap thoughts. That would be heaven.
That’s how it was. I was little more than lonely and isolated, with only my regrets and laments to accompany me. Nobody would go up to me and ask, ‘Hey Derek, how are things?’ or ‘How are you today?’ nor would they ask me about my feelings. If I had a companion like Jenny, and if she were as kind to me as she was to her grandfather, I’d never have to worry about anything ever again.
Never in my entire lifetime would I gain humanity, nor would I gain the slightest ounce of happiness. I would never get to do what humans would; never would I step on land, never would I feel the breeze of cool wind in my face as I walk down the road admiring the scenery, never would I meet…her. I would spend my entire 25 year lifespan in misery, until the day I die. I wanted to cry, but I’m an animal: my eyes shed no tears.
Who asked you?
Hundreds of thoughts racing through my head at time, tearing me to pieces. I could think about these things for hours, and I had thought similar things for days but one thing seemed clear:
I would never live happily ever after.