Rest assured - No Dolphins were porpoise-ly abused in the writing of this story. The one Dolphin that was unfortunately injured when she banged her nose on the bottom of my kayak during this stories research phase is now resting comfortably at a Dolphin hospice two miles east of South Beach. She's under the tender care of her Daddy.
"Hello beautiful," was gaily sung out and into my ear when I reluctantly picked up the phone on a dreary and cold, early December, Ohio morning.
'What does he want, why's he calling me anyway?' I thought, recognizing my Daddy's deep baritone voice. "Hi Daddy, I'm pretty busy now," I started rudely, not wanting to waste any more time away from my writing.
"I finally moved into my new house Samantha, just wanted to give you all the details, address, phone number, etc."
"Can't you just e-mail me the details?" I answered gruffly.
"I could sweetie, but then I wouldn't get a chance to talk to my favorite person in the world," Daddy replied with his customary smile in his voice.
At fifty-seven he's still as smooth as ever, I thought, and couldn't help smiling in spite of all the anger, the resentment I still felt for him. A couple of words and I fall under his spell, I muttered to myself, as a flood of perfect memories cascaded through my mind.
"I'm writing a story," I whined, unwilling to let him see how easily he could make me succumb to his charm.
"I saw a school of dolphins this morning hon," he went on.
"What? Where?" I gasped, unable to keep the excitement out of my voice, but then added, in a disbelieving, questioning tone, "You're just making that up, aren't you?"
"Oh you would have loved it Sammi," he started with an enthusiasm that I could remember from a thousand bedtime tales he'd told me in the past, and I suddenly realized from where had sprung my only love, my joy of writing stories.
"I'm still here Daddy," I whispered, momentarily distraught at the discovery, knowing that my estrangement from my Dad had cut me off from a vital part of myself.
"I was kayaking early this morning sweetie, out on the bay, it's warm down here you know honey," he laughed, the warmth in his voice still able to send a shiver down my spine.
"How warm Daddy?" I asked, now completely unable to keep the interest out of my voice.
"Oh it was about eighty degrees this morning Sam, and the ocean was as smooth as I've ever seen it, like glass. I was alone, paddling across the bay, between the city and the beach, and then all of a sudden, fifteen, maybe twenty dolphins appeared, surrounded me,"
"Was it sunny out Daddy?" I interrupted, wishing to get the picture just right in my mind.
"Oh yes sweetie, the sun was sitting all alone in the sky, and the ocean was a hundred different hues of blue and green, and the dolphins bodies seemed to sparkle as they jumped around me."
"They jumped? What did you do Daddy? Did they make any noises, did you touch them?" I asked, now completely lost in the moment, my imagination filling in every scent, every color, every texture.
"I SWAN WITH THE DOLPHINS honey," Daddy whispered, almost reverentially.
"You swan with them? What? How? Oh Daddy, I wish I'd been there. What was it like Daddy?" I almost cried, while thinking in another part of my mind, 'how come I never have things like this happen to me, why do other people have wonderful things happen to them and not me'.
"You could," Daddy went on, "Its one of the reasons I called."
"What do you mean?"
"What are you doing for Christmas, the holidays Sam?"
"The usual. Not much. I'll probably go visit Mom on Christmas Eve, see my step-sisters," I responded, almost apologizing.
"What about whats-his-name?"
"You know his name Daddy," I hissed, now angry at both of them.
"Sorry honey," he immediately apologized but I knew he wasn't sorry at all.
"He'll be with his children Daddy, you know that."
"Leaving you alone for Christmas again, I suppose," he added acidly, Dad's dislike of my husband a longstanding issue between us, just one of many that had poisoned our relationship.
"It's none of your business Daddy," I replied with ice in my voice, the sultry warmth of Biscayne Bay long forgotten.
"I'm just now e-mailing you a Christmas gift," he finally said after seconds of silence. "And I don't want to hear anything back from you for a week," he ordered.
"What do you mean?" I asked, mystified by his request. "It's too early for Christmas gifts anyway. And I don't have any money to buy you anything," I added petulantly.
"What I mean sweetie is this," he said, "Look at my gift and before you decide anything take one week just to think about it. Just accepting my gift will be all the present I need from you."
"Gotta go now honey, need to work on my tan, I'll call you in a week," he ended as I heard his receiver drop into its cradle.
"Daddy?" I whined, confused and also stunned, it was I who always hung up on him.
Dolphins, probably just another of his cock and bull stories, I muttered to myself, as I turned to my computer, already on and open to my latest story.
Quickly switching to yahoo I read;
Find attached a confirmation for a ticket, Cincinnati-Miami, Dec. 22nd, return Dec 27th. I'd so much like you to spend the holidays with me. I know, I know, but please, think about it. Also, the tickets non-refundable, love ya
"Screw you!" I said aloud to the empty room. Who's he think he is anyway? Just like him to buy a non-refundable ticket, knowing I'd feel guilty wasting his money like that. He knows I could've used the cash, I fumed.
I typed for the next hour but when I finally quit for lunch knew I'd produced only garbage, and turned off the computer without hitting the save button. My gritty detective story, set on the mean streets of Cincinnati, my latest attempt to produce a 'best seller', didn't mix with the visions of sun-kissed dolphins that were still swimming in my head.
Damn you Daddy, I thought for the thousandth time, why'd you leave your little daughter?
Twenty-six and married for eight years and you're still blaming your father, my conscience argued back. Grow up girl!
That's my bloody problem, I knew, the inability to even decide who was to blame for my life. The thing is, when you get to my age, blaming your father, your mother, your husband, the neighbors, God, even the dogs for all my problems doesn't quite cut it anymore. I had recently began to suspect that I had some responsibility for my life, and that maybe I'd better start doing something about it.
Born twenty-six years ago in a small northern suburb of Cincinnati, I was the only child of a city police detective and a school teacher Mom. I knew now that it been an idyllic existence, a nice home in a good neighborhood, loving parents and great friends.
But somehow it had all fallen apart. Just as I was about to hit sixteen, sweet sixteen as everyone calls it, Mom and Dad separated and within months she moved in her boyfriend plumber, someone she had been secretly seeing for months.
I know now, hell, I even knew then, that it wasn't just a matter of assigning blame, that relationships are so much more complicated, but still I came out of their breakup fixing the blame squarely on Dad.
I knew he loved me, always had and always would, but somehow as the years had passed, as other troubles had arisen, my screwed up marriage, my bad health, my inability to get my stories published, I let the estrangement grow, never letting him help me when he offered. 'I won't go, ' I promised myself, even though at heart I still yearned for his unrelenting love.
"What is this anyway?" my loving husband asked that night at dinner, as he moved his fork through the food on his plate, a look of distaste on his face.
"Screw you," I muttered, not willing to take any of his shit tonight.
"Christ Sam, you've got all day and all you have to do is cook one fucking edible meal for your husband. Is that asking too goddam much?" he snarled, our evening starting in our typical fashion. "I work all day to put this food on the table while you waste your time on your stupid stories."
"Yeah right Mr. Perfect Husband. Which of your little coeds did you fuck today? Blond little Cindy or was it Monnnnniccca?"
"Shut up you bitch!" he screamed as he jumped up from the table, upending his full plate of spaghetti all over the white tablecloth.
Jesus, I thought, recognizing the guilty blush that spread across his face, he did get laid today. Was I ever that fucking naive, I thought, falling in love with this jerk, my community college English professor. He'd been forty-three when I met him, divorced with two children and I, a seventeen year old freshman, becoming a writer my only desire, had fallen hard for the older man who had praised my work.
I married him at eighteen, and even today wondered why he had insisted on it. He certainly didn't love me, not even then. Both Mom and Dad had argued against it, the one thing they'd agreed on after their divorce. "He's a loser," Dad said to me simply after he had met him just once, "He'll never make you happy Sam."
It had taken me three years to realize that every year he'd pick one or two of his students to be his bedmates for the year, the ultimate proof provided when I arrived home early one day to find him fucking a petite, blond, eighteen year old poet doggie style on the living room rug.
.... There is more of this story ...