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One early morning, awoken from disturbed dreams, Joshua found that he had been transformed into a dolphin. Mildly sweating—or was it water?—he rolled over to check the time. The clock was turned around and clearly not meant to be visible, as if someone was telling him time doesn’t matter anymore. Ah, but for a business man of such importance and power, time is always of the essence and therefore must be known—at all times, naturally. Repressing his playfulness deep down, a profound longing for relaxation and to forget time entirely, Joshua tried to turn the clock around. He tried to rewire his circuits and reorient himself to what he must do (work, work, work), but his blue fin knocked the clock straight off the table and shattered it into pieces. The alarm started ringing as it momentarily reset to 12:00 PM, the busiest time of the day and pinnacle of his work and pressure, but slowly faded away with the alarm as the clock died a painful death like a squirming fish out of water. Joshua the bottlenose dolphin smashed the wound up clock—very wound up indeed, as it was wound by the finest clockmaker in town who swore it could not unwind in a million years, unless, of course, it was thrown into water. “Being underwater,” the clockmaker said, “can unwind even the tensest of things.”
“Certainly it could not be true, though; everyone knows dolphins must live underwater. Or do they? No, they mustn’t because I’m a dolphin, no doubt about that,” Joshua pondered very nervously and frightfully wiggled out from under his sheets. After cocking his head in every which way, just trying to get better angles of his new body, there were no more doubts he was a dolphin. Joshua’s body was so much simpler now, and a beautiful, slick blue-gray color. He had no more joints or crazy bone hierarchies, just two flippers and a nice banana-shaped tail—so simple, so beautiful. “Dolphins are my favorite animal,” he could not help but appreciate, “always so fun and caring. And smart, the smartest animals in the world. That’s how it should be; they know how to do it. What do the smartest animals do? They have fun and jump in the water. That’s how it should be…”
Joshua then nearly kicked himself, should that be possible as a dolphin, at his new realization. “Of course,” he thought, “the perks of being so rich and powerful: waterbeds, one of the useless wastes of money that only the CEO of my major company could afford to splurge on. Well, useless until now of course.” But he could not be confined to his waterbed for the rest of his life, and knowing that dolphins need oxygen to live anyway, Joshua attempted to climb out of the bed, at least for a second. Joshua was actually a dolphin expert, well he hired dolphin experts, because he was the CEO of an oil-drilling and transport company and had to make sure he was working within legal parameters. Mr. Pitkoff, Joshua’s dad, had been the previous CEO of East Mors Oil Co. before he was fired to make room for Joshua. It was biting for Mr. Pitkoff, a terrible, terrible feeling akin to sharp teeth gnawing at his heart.
After several failed attempts, Joshua grabbed onto the corner of his bed with his razor-sharp teeth and bit into the wood, but was sure to not break it, and especially careful not to gnaw it off subconsciously. Joshua waited a few moments, breathing slowly and being cautious about pushing himself too far, and after feeling like he could indefinitely hold his position, crashed back down into the water with a sense of accomplishment. It was not enough though because the sweetness of one triumph only lasted until his mouth was watered with the vision of another. “I must be able to live out of water, for at least a short period of time, right?” Joshua anxiously deliberated, his mind racing. It took a reasonable amount of additional effort, but he was able to do a flip out of the waterbed and land with a thud on his floor. Cursing at himself—for Joshua hated attention more than anything—he laid motionless, listening to decode if anyone heard. To his great dismay, he heard a pair of footsteps came rushing up the stairs towards his room, no doubt a product of his acute dolphin hearing. A rhythmic pit-pat on the carpet skipping two steps at a time, it was easily distinguished as his wife Shifra. Slowly behind her followed a much less discernable pair of footsteps, mundane, monotonous, and mechanical in manner, his nosy son Ben undoubtedly creeping up behind her.
Shifra had left the door unlocked that morning when she woke up to go running and was able to bash right through it. However, her speed and force turned to dead halt once she had passed the threshold of the door. Her husband of nearly twenty years was nowhere to be found and a grey-blue dolphin, which sharply contrasted with the blood-red carpet and created a frightening illusion of blood surrounding it, was sprawled out next to the bed. She began shouting, “Josh? Joshie!?” and searched the entire room, including the spa-size marble bathroom and balcony directly overlooking the ocean. Shifra called out to the rainclouds creeping along the sky overhead, to the wind that was just beginning to pick up, and to the white foam forming on the choppy, dark waves. She even shouted to the large oil transport boat slowly but surely moving along the water, her screams only returned by a loud boat horn. And each time, Joshua squeaked a little louder—louder and louder until any normal person could hear it, except those whose minds and thoughts were completely conquered by their tasks at hand, like that of Shifra. Ben, however, who had been hiding behind the door, was overcome by curiosity and peeked in. A smart boy, more so in logic than books, Ben understood his father and they were very, very close. They would plant and take care of a garden in their backyard, Joshua and Ben together, and Joshua would always point out that no matter where the apples fell, they would never fall far from the tree. Ben knew where his father was, but could not decide whether or not to tell his mother.
Shifra was a very sweet, caring woman. A marriage arranged from the time they were teenagers, Shifra and Joshua were perfect for each other; even in their few extreme personality differences, they each balanced the other out. They truly wanted only the best for each other, and Ben knew this about his parents more than anything, so what would be best for his mother? What would his father want? Joshua and Shifra were connected on a deeper level, something Ben didn’t see in parents of his friends. They could complete each other’s sentences and knew what the other one was thinking, as if by mind-reading. But not when they were focused on other things, focused in the wrong direction. Shifra would understand; she would help once she could reorient her compass. “Mom,” Ben began, “The apple tree isn’t as far as you think…”
Joshua was very grateful for his son’s insight, clearly a product of his own genes. After remaining motionless through this entire time, from fear of sending his wife and son into shock, Joshua rolled his head in Shifra’s direction and she was now starring at him white as a sheet. She walked slowly, no sudden movements and, in fact, not moving anything above her waist, as if she was walking down the aisle at her wedding. The minute she was able to sink deep into Joshua’s eyes, Shifra knew her son’s word was true. Through the body of a dolphin, her husband’s soul was crying and only she could wipe up the tears.
Ben saw them arguing, the constant change of expressions, even hearing some of it as he shared the blood of their ancient bond. It was clear they both wanted the best for each other, the other to be happy. How could Joshua live in their house any longer? But how could he leave the family alone? Even as a dolphin, Joshua was still there and he still had a presence in the house and family. Their thoughts were instantaneous—no time between talking and hearing and responding and understanding. “A compromise,” they thought together, and Shifra’s eyes lit up. She turned to Ben, cunningly smiled, and then all three of them knew the plan. After one phone call, the yacht was ready, floating by the dock.
There was only one hiccup: moving Joshua from the room into the ocean. He was certainly unable to flop his way to the ocean, and even fitting him through doorways would pose a problem. At that moment, a wind rustled in from the balcony and Ben, Shifra, and Joshua again saw the solution as one. The 300 pound dolphin was surprisingly easy for them to lift out to the two-story balcony, powered by the adrenaline rush of the prospect of their future life at sea. However, they were so caught up in their task that they were blind to the sea behind them. The happy family—well, happy considering the circumstances—did not see the black spots enveloping the ocean right underneath them.
Ben and Shifra were panting, trying to swing Joshua over the ledge and back into the ocean—throw him to a place that will be better for him, make him happier. They all wanted to be happy. Ben and Shifra wanted the best for the family; all Joshua wanted deep down was to relax, to be free from work.
They finally threw Joshua over. His body gracefully dove straight into the ocean depths and through the black spots endlessly enveloping the ocean. They couldn’t figure out what the spots were—black slimy spots that floated in the water without mixing. Leaking from a boat perhaps? Yes, in fact, it was leaking from a boat owned by the East Mors Oil Co. Ben and Shifra watched in horror as Joshua failed to emerge from the depths, killed by the oil spill. He had the ultimate escape from his work, but at the same time it was the one thing he could never escape; it killed him. And all he wanted was fun, to play in the water like a dolphin.