‘Two-fin Sisters’

Written in response to inspiration provided by Mark (call for inspiration 1):

She breaches and the air welcomes her like an ancient grandmother. The brief moment stretches back, a razor play of mirrors, and Mara breathes in oxygen until it tastes of land and running with small rocks caught – trapped beneath her hoofs and she lets out a barking laugh of excitement. She chases her prey across the viscous mudflat, her cubs lagging behind her. She isn’t thinking of them now, the hunter’s instinct so strong she can taste the blood dripping past her jaws as it drowns her maternal nature. She closes on the pack of darting rodents, opens her mouth, eyes roll back and

the water wraps the cool present back around her again and she shakes the vision away. The dream would not seduce her today. She descends and the smell of land dissipates as inconsequentially as the effervescence shivering from her skin. She rolls and watches as the track of bubbles show her path downwards.

It isn’t long before she reaches the bottom and the weed down here is pale and insignificant, bitter cousins of the lush forests found in shallower water. She can taste her two-fin sister here; Chay’s clicks torpedo through the water, catching on the weed briefly, sound angrily against intruders. Mara sifts the aggressive clicks and catches, just faintly below it, another voice. A scared plea. A desperate mewling.

Her daughter is still alive.

The pod had expected something like this to occur. A two-fin sisterhood – where female whales share both parents – was rare and the pod’s stories of the close bond shared by two-fins were inevitably tragic. Mara’s relationships with her one-fin sisters were like this suffocating, half-dead weed compared to the deep green slick forest that was her relationship with Chay.

Mara hears a shadow-sound thrashing ahead of her, clicks of anguish flying out like krill, and she propels herself through the water. She comes up out of a valley and onto a flat plain of stirred up sand. She tastes blood in her mouth and for a moment she thinks the dream has taken her again, but then she tastes family in the blood, and more than that she tastes her daughter.

Chay floats there, the baby whale convulsing beneath her on the seabed. Mara eyes her sister, looks down at her child, back at Chay. Chay’s eyes are glassed over but her clicks calm at the sight of Mara, they emanate out, willing her to see, demanding understanding. The dream, she clicks, the dream is here.

The dream? Mara looks at her sister. Beneath Chay’s considerable bulk her fins have elongated into a series of ridges that press razor sharp against the membrane, threatening to tear through.

Her daughter’s body gives a death soaked shudder. Mara tastes the finality in the act and turns to the surface, propelling herself upwards, away from the pain. She feels the warmer water stream past newly sharpened incisors in her jaws. Her two-fin catches up to her. Mara sees the threshold of the world approaching; braces herself for the breach. The present strips away and she feels a howl of approval in her guts, the hunter once more drowning out the mother.

Air, and the dream, rush in.

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