Monday, August 23, 2010

Hannah the Homesick Honu II

Over the next few days, something changed in Hannah, and she wasn’t sure whether the human was to blame. She felt a tickle inside—sometimes in her head, other times near her heart. In her head, it was like a teasing whisper whose words she could never make out, even if she nestled under a soft layer of sand and lay perfectly still on the ocean floor, listening. When she swam, the tickle left her head and moved through her blood. It danced and skipped around her pulse. Everything in Hannah seemed to quicken to this new double rhythm, so that she found herself rising more frequently to the surface to take in a fresh lungful of air.

Unexpectedly, too, Hannah’s appetite grew. She didn’t stop to savor every mouthful of sea grass the way she always had—as soon as she’d taken one bite, she was already thinking about the next. For the first time that she could remember, Hannah felt something pushing her out of the moment she lived in and knew, felt it nudging her toward... what? She had no idea, she only knew that she needed to find a new patch of grass. She’d munched this one almost down to the sand, and she wasn’t even close to full.

When Hannah decided to move on, she noticed another strange thing. She knew that she would find the best and most tender grass on the other side of the reef to her right, but when she turned toward it the water seemed to press her back. The tickle in her head made an ugly buzzing, but as soon as she turned to swim in the opposite direction, it quieted to a lovely low hum. This happened many times, until Hannah no longer knew where she was. She didn’t understand how she had wandered so far, but she wasn’t afraid. That seemed strange, too. She didn’t recognize the surrounding coral and rock, and she didn’t recognize herself. What had changed?

Now, maybe you’re wondering why Hannah didn’t stop to ask another turtle what was going on. It’s a very good question, and I hope you won’t find the answer silly. The Honu, as I mentioned, are extremely polite. They are also terribly shy. It’s hard to say which came first, the politeness or the shyness, but because they like their peace and quiet so much, they really hate to be a bother to anyone else. On the rare occasions that Honu try to converse, they spend so long clearing their throats and apologizing that they often forget what they wanted to say. A typical exchange might go like this:

Horace the Honu quietly coughs, “Um, so. Hm.”

Hannibal the Honu lifts his head in surprise. “Whassup?”

Horace sees that Hannibal is eating. “Oh, dude, I’m sorry,” he says. “I’ll come back after lunch.”

“No, man, stay,” replies Hannibal. “It’s a way tasty tuft. You should have some. Please.”

“Ah, I couldn’t, really. I had a crazy big breakfast, couldn’t eat another bite.”

Hannibal insists, “Come on, just a nibble, man.”

Horace snips off a few blades with his beaky mouth and delicately munches. “Sweet.”

“I told you, right?” Hannibal takes another bite. He chews contentedly with Horace.

Horace coughs again. “Um yeah, so.”

“Something you need, friend?” Hannibal asks. “Just say the word.”

“Yeah, maybe.” Horace tries to remember. “I mean there was. I don’t know.”

Hannibal shrugs. “It’ll come back to you. Or not. Meantime, there’s plenty of grass if you just want to chill.”

The Honu like nothing better than chilling—except when they get a tickle in their blood and they begin to wonder why. One night a dream gave Hannah something new to wonder about. She dreamt of a beautiful place where butterfly fish fluttered and silver monk seals somersaulted through brilliant blue waters. She dreamt of angelfish with sunbright faces, of corals that fanned out flat and wide as manta rays.

When Hannah woke from her dream, she wasn’t hungry anymore. She didn’t want to eat, she only wanted to swim. She had to find her way back to the place of her dream. She knew she’d been there before. That was what the tickle had been telling her all along: it was time to go home.

No comments:

Post a Comment