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The One That Didn't Get Away
by Rick Tornello

YOU CAN’T MAKE ME!” Ida screamed at her mother, the senior matriarch of the orca pod.

“Dear, her mother said, “you are of age, and it is time you considered…”


“Maybe you should talk with your father.” Ida is so much like him, she thought. Maybe he could say something.

Talk was one thing her father didn’t want to do. He knew he was wrapped around his daughter’s dorsal fin, but what could he do? His wife was the boss.

They spoke privately. He said to Ida, “I’ll do what I can. I do understand. Maybe it is too soon…” She interrupted swishing her tail,“TOO soon? Never! Never!Never!”

“Please, Ida,” he begged. She’s so much like her mother, he thought. “Please, just be a bit calmer, please. Your mother doesn’t like contradiction. You know that. And you know there is more to life than just play. You have to have a meaning, a purpose.”

“Yes Daddy,” she said giving him that look. Ida knew that as long as her father sided with her, her mother would back off, if only for a while.

Well, maybe not today.

Her mother came back and started in again. Ida let out a mind numbing, sea lion stunning echo-ping, flipped her dorsal fin at both of them, breached the surface, and all three tons of her swam off at a top speed of 30 knots, porpoising as she went.

Ida swam and swam for what felt like an eternity. She eased down to a slow float, then skyhopped to see where she was. The location was familiar from a long time ago. There was a beach up ahead. She remembered it as where her mom first beached her to teach her how to get sea lions and other animals on land that were close enough to the water to eat. She remembered how scared she was at first. Then it became fun.

Ida was startled by a splash to her starboard. “Ping,” she sent. “Who are you?” A double ping came back, but a different dialect. Well at least it was related, she thought. She swam toward the source, pinging.

Then she saw him. “A porpoise, a little porpoise. How cute,” she said. “He’s chasing fish. I think I’ll play too.”

Ida swam up beside him and gave him a nudge. She was huge compared to him. He didn’t care. He was having fun and now he had a playmate. The two of them corralled a school of fish and pinged to stun. Occasionally each one would hit a fish with their tail fin. It would fly out the water. The other would leap to catch and eat it. They ate until their bellies were full.

She was going through all the dialects she knew from different pods, trying to get verbal communication going. Finally she hit one that they both knew. “Hello,” she said. “My name is Ida. What’s yours?”

“Aqua,” he said. “Where are you from and what are you doing here?”

“I’m from out there and I just swam away from my pod.”

“That’s not too good. Are you okay?” he asked. “I’m just fishing. I come here a lot. There’s always a feast and when the tide is right, I can surf the waves. You should try it!”

“I never surfed before,” she said. “Show me how.”

“The tide is coming in. Sure,” he replied.

She was a quick learner and soon became his equal. They played all day. They both noticed the sky getting darker. “There’s a nice cove we can stay in until the morning. It’s safe,” he said giving the geolocation.

“We usually never leave our matrilines for more than a few hours. Mom and Dad are probably going nuts,” Ida said as she raced him to the cove.

Aqua said, “We sometimes go alone but not too much. We’re not as big as your kind.” Aqua knew they were the apex of the predators and had nothing to fear.

They talked all night long. Ida thought, he’s so different from the others. He nice, fun to be with, and she hit upon an idea. “Do you want to come home with me? It’s okay. My mom is the head matriarch. No one will bother you. Trust me.”

Aqua was a bit surprised, and concerned. Yes they were related but he never heard of an orca and porpoise being friends. If her family was like she was, what the hell. “Sure why not,” he answered.

As they headed back she told him more of what was going on. He said, “No one ever does that in my family. I’m not sure how we would take to that.”

I’M NOT DOING IT!” She screamed.

Aqua was stunned by the ferocity of the outburst.

“I’m sorry,” Ida said as she turned toward him. He was still there, staring at her. He’s a friend, that’s good, she thought.

They swam past the guardian orcas that were searching for her. The guardians looked and couldn’t believe their eyes. They communicated the sighting. Bad news and gossip travel quickly, especially in water. Ida’s mother knew of the situation long before Ida got home. She had an idea.

When Ida’s father got wind of this, he went up to his wife and said, “Relation or not, he’s out of here or he’s dinner.”

“Now dear,” she said, “look at it this way, it’s a start in the right direction. Don’t say anything. Just go along. I’m sure it won’t be anything to concern ourselves with, as long as we don’t make a big deal about it.”

“I hope you’re right,” he replied as Ida entered the pod.

As if nothing had happened the day before she said, “Mom, Dad, I’d like you to meet my good friend and companion, Aqua. And Daddy, as you said, I should have a porpoise in life. He’s mine.”