Monday, November 1, 2021

Misty the Narwhal

 Day 1 of NaNoWriMo. I’m trying to write 20-30 short stories this month. Extra bonus if I write in prose instead of verse. To get started I went on FB and asked my friends for prompts - character names or 

Today’s prompt was Misty the Narwhal (thanks to Denise M).

Misty the Narwhal didn’t consider herself a rebel. But she wanted a tusk, She really, really wanted a tusk. It didn’t seem fair that the boys got them. and that some boys even grew two. 


Misty had just changed from being brownish-gray to being blue-black. Even that bothered her. Why had it taken so long. Narwhals younger than her changed color faster. And she was smaller than some girls who were younger. Nick, a Narwhal in her pod started calling her Misty the Mini. Then the other kids started calling her that too. Even the babies.

All MIsty wanted to do was grow faster. She wanted to be bigger and darker so when she got older the change from dark to white would be noticeable. Like some of the senior narwhals with their distinguished white skin. 

She knew she should be content to just play under the ice with her friends. She knew the rules. If you need to get air, find a buddy to go up with you. Because she didn’t have a tusk a hunter wouldn’t try to kidnap her. But sometimes the hunters would use a net and capture any narwhal that came up for air. They also shot them with darts which made it hard for the narwhals to try to escape. That sounded scary. She knew that was what happened to her father and one of her uncles.

Misty knew that tusks weren’t a weapon. But if she had a tusk she could pretend it was. And use it to protect others. Like the calf her mother was going to have. Her mother said it would be a while before her brother or sister was born. 

So Misty did what she was told. She played with the other narwhals. She was careful about going above water. She avoided strange objects in the water. Her mother said the objects weren’t alive but she should avoid them because they were the enemy. Misty didn’t understand that but she trusted her mother so she stayed clear of things in the water that didn’t look like a fish.

And everyday, Misty asked her mother why she didn’t have a tusk. And everyday her mother would tell her to go play and stop asking foolish questions.

Misty would watch the boys and ask them if they felt their tusks growing. They’d laugh at her and say no. And if they did feel anything, they certainly wouldn’t let it bother them. Then they would laugh again and say the only thing bothering them was her and all of her questions. If she was that jealous maybe she should ask her mother why she didn’t have a boy instead of an annoying girl like Misty. She would try to splash them as she turned and swam away, crying warm tears into the cold water.

“Sticks and stones can break my bones but names can never hurt me.” That’s what her aunt told her to say. Misty thought it was a ridiculous thing to say. Names did hurt. They hurt more than bumps and scrapes. They hurt inside. She didn’t care about hurting her body. It would heal. She saw the scars and bumps on the older narwhals. Some of the white seniors boasted about how they got them. Stories about men, boat propellers, and things she needed to know about, but they hoped she would never see.

So Misty began to spend more time alone. She stayed close to the pod and watched the other kids play and talk. But she didn’t join their games as often. It hurt to see them having so much fun and not asking her to join them. At first they did ask her and she gave excuses about not being in the mood to play. After a while they stopped asking. Some of the seniors noticed. They told her she needed to play to stay healthy for the months under ice. So she exercised on her own and felt herself getting stronger.

She practiced echolocation. She worked on learning to identify the voice of each narwhal in her pod. When they met up with other pods she would hang out with narwhals who looked around her age. Sometimes they were younger but since they didn’t know how old she was, they didn’t make fun of her. She made up names and games for non-living things she saw in the water. She used her tail fins to push them away. Sometimes she’d try to throw them out of the water. When the other narwhals saw that they would laugh. But she noticed their laugh sounded different. It wasn’t at her. It sounded joyful, like they enjoyed seeing what she could do.

Day after day Misty worked on her narwhal skills and wished for a tusk. And watched the other narwhals, especially Nick, whose tusk was the longest. How fierce he was beginning to look. Some of the younger boys were becoming afraid of him. Nick’s tusk was growing so fast he seemed awkward. Not as smooth a swimmer as he had been. Not as sure of his aim when he needed to pop through the hole in the ice for air.

Soon Nick was spending less time with his friends and more time alone. Misty would notice him swim away from the others. He seemed to be practicing his echolocation too. She could tell because of the way he stayed still, closed his eyes, and then swam towards an object. She did that too. She also kept her eyes closed, listened, swam, then opened her eyes to see if her hearing was accurate. It usually was. She noticed that Nick was getting better too.

Even though Nick had always been mean to her, she felt like she needed to talk to him. Maybe she could help him. Maybe he could help her.  Nick had been the main boy narwhal but she heard the seniors talk about him. “That boy is trouble.” “That tusk of his is growing to big too fast.” The seniors told her to be careful around him. Her mother told her to “watch out for that boy.” And MIsty realized that Nick was probably as lonely as she was. 

She enjoyed being alone. She enjoyed challenging herself and feeling a sense of accomplishment when met the challenge. But sometimes she missed being a member of the pod. She knew she was part of the pod, but she didn’t feel like she belonged. As she watched Nick, she thought, “Neither does he.”

Misty the Narwhal didn’t consider herself a rebel. She thought she just wanted a tusk, And to be a little bigger, the right shade of gray, a little more like the other narwhals. As she observed the narwhals in her pod she realized she didn’t want to look exactly like any of them. She didn’t want to be the exact same color or size. She didn’t want to speak exactly like them. She wanted to be different. She wanted to keep being herself. She liked being herself. And being herself meant she would help someone who looked like they were sad the way she was when the kid narwhals picked on her and told her she was different. So one day she swam over to Nick. His eyes were closed but she knew he heard her coming. She splashed her fin, he opened his eyes, and they played together. And MIsty didn’t care what anyone thought or said. She didn’t have a tusk, but maybe, just maybe, she realized, she really was rebel after all. In a good way. A tusk would be fun but being a rebel was better.