By Stacy Hall
Next to me his soft snores harmonize with the crashing waves. I toss a loathing look at the device playing those sounds. He’s been using them more and more. He says they help him sleep. He says they’re soothing, but he’s wrong. All they do is make me remember.
I cannot look away. No one can, but the other people are smiling and pointing, they look but they don’t see. She is disturbingly motionless in the corner. Some of her companions approach as she cries. They know they can do nothing for her and in their awkward anxiety soon retreat. I want to approach her too, but she is locked behind glass and we are worlds apart. Her cries change, evolve into something higher, longer. The crowd of vacation spectators shifts, marveling in the new music she makes. Why don’t they see? This isn’t right. They stole from her, we watched it happen. I was there when they came with nets and ropes. I was there when they took her four-year-old daughter away. I watched a mother’s soul crushed to dust and now I hear it all around me. I look down at my own little one, clutching my hand and watching the show. She’ll be four in March. I cannot breathe as I scoop her into my arms and break wide open.
“No! This isn’t right!” The crowd stares as I back away but it’s too late. People with walkie-talkies approach feigning concern. I know too much. “Orcas live as long as we do, they care for their children their whole lives. They just stole her child!” My cracked voice pleads for blank faces to understand. “Oh, God. We let them steal her baby!” The walkie-talkie drones converge upon my disturbance. I clutch my daughter to my chest with a mother’s iron force. No one will take her from me. “Listen!” I shout wondering in desperation how no one in the park can hear what I do. “Don’t you hear her screaming!”
Louder, he snores into the waves, but it doesn’t drown out the whale’s song. Nothing ever does.