Into the Bubble
I swim in agitated circles, wishing I knew how to help the human girl I am supposed to guide. Grief presses her so hard I don’t know how she can draw her next breath.
My heart feels heavy too. Nearby, six dolphins float inside the Bubble of Communion, protected while they unite with their split-tails, giving comfort and counsel. And I remain beyond reach, knowing mine needs me, yet unable to connect with her.
“What troubles you?”
So involved in my own turmoil am I that I don’t notice my friend until she speaks.
“I can’t reach my ward.”
Sunny pokes my belly with her nose, pushing me out of my repetitive path. I do my best to give her my attention.
“You have a human to guide?” Her mouth drops open.
She twirls. “Really? What do you know about your One?”
“She’s not quite a woman but not a child either.”
“Yes, and she needs my help.”
“Does she call to you asking for guidance?”
“Well, not exactly.”
Sunny presses her nose into mine. “Then why worry? She will call when she’s ready, won’t she?”
“She grieves.” Unable to stay still, I swim a circle around my friend.
“How do you know?” Sunny opens her mouth in puzzlement, pivots in place to track me as I go around and around.
“I feel it.” I still myself with effort.
“You feel it? How? You’re not in the Bubble of Communion, and you say she did not call out seeking help from her Ally.” She makes a bubble ring in an attempt to get me to play.
“She doesn’t even know I am her spirit guide.”
“Then maybe she’s not your One, because that’s not how things work.”
“I know it’s not supposed to work that way. But that’s how it works for me.” Girls. I would have named her Smug, not Sunny. I thrash my tail. Now my friend says just what the Wise Ones and all the adults tell me.
“Are you sure?” She nuzzles my side, trying to be comforting, but I just want to thrash.
“You don’t have a human to serve yet. I know I am hers.”
She surfaces for air, which we all do, but dolphins usually rise together when we’re talking or playing. She bolts off in a rush, so I can tell I hurt her feelings. I grab air and swim playful circles around her. That usually puts her in a good mood.
“Sunny, I’m sorry. I know you’re trying to help. We’re both young. I understand I’m not supposed to have a human yet, but I do, and nobody understands. I’m not mad at you. Forgive me?”
My big brother Swift streams up to us in his usual speedy manner. Fish jump into and out of his wake, catching rides and enjoying themselves. He will make fun of me or criticize me any moment now.
“You two calves are creating quite a disturbance.”
“We’re not calves anymore.” That didn’t take long.
Swift smacks me with his flipper. “You’re still in Youth Pod.”
“And you’re barely out of it.” Older brothers can be so exasperating.
“You’re agitating the water, Ponder.” He flicked his flipper the way our parents do when scolding us.
“So are you.” I hate that name everyone calls me.
Sunny swims up close to me, adding to my discomfort. We’ve been friends since we were babies nursing while our moms visited.
“Of course I forgive you.” She tickles my belly with her flipper. Can this get any more awkward?
“Just as I suspected. Girl trouble.”
“Oh, stop it, Swift. He’s worried about his Ward.” Sunny goes nose to nose with my much larger brother. Impressive.
Swift nudges past her and comes up behind me to push. “Come on, Ponder. You don’t have a human yet. Go back to your Youth Pod.”
“I do so have a human, and I will find a way to reach her so she knows she is not alone.” I thrash away from Swift and zoom off to one of my favorite places to be alone and think.
Sunny doesn’t follow. I don’t blame her. I’m not good company anyway, and I don’t want to get her mad at me again.
I float among the large fronds that sway with the ocean currents. This is a good place to be alone, because dolphins don’t tend to come here. Small fish glide past. I snack on some and feel better with a little nourishment.
As a calf, I tried getting into the Bubble of Communion a lot but was never able to get through the membrane. Lots of us tried and nobody else could either. Mom always said we would when the one we were destined to serve called to us, but not until then.
I used to think the adults just want to keep us out of the way and we really can get in now that we’re older. But I just felt my Person yearning, feeling alone, and I still could not break through to help her. An idea forms.
When I surface for air, moonlight shimmers across the water. I need to get home, and I’m tired after all the anxiety and planning.
I’m almost home when Sunny and my mom rush up to me. Sunny blows a flurry of bubbles at me. I pop them and make some for her to burst. Having a plan puts me in a frisky mood.
Mom laughs and joins in the fun. Dolphins are the most playful of all the Ally Nations, after all.
“Don’t let Swift get to you,” mom advises. He’s just trying to act grown up, like you. He just does it differently.”
“I know.” That isn’t why I ran off, but I don’t want to get into it right now.
Sunny tickles my belly. “Come on. Let’s watch the ceremony.”
Mom stops me. “Did you eat?”
“Yes.” My dorsal fin droops. Moms. I wonder if they all do that. Probably.
Sunny’s family pod and mine are in the same community group, so we travel together. It’s fun when we all gather. First it’s chaos with lots of playing and showing off skills, like flipping in the air, spinning in place and making bubble rings. Sunny leaps high above the water and performs a somersault before her nose touches the surface. She hardly splashes. I can’t do that. It’s good to have our whole Nation together.
Our leaders whistle to call us to begin. They float just above a wide disk with our Nation encircling them.
“At this Ceremony of Completion, we celebrate those whose human charges have finished their cycle of life in the past wheel of seasons. Their work is done unless or until an insightful two-legged calls for the help of their spirit guide.”
Eight dolphins glide from the circle to hover just below our Chief.
“Will any of you share something of your experiences with your two-legged?”
“Mine rarely called on me,” one of them says. Three more bob their agreement. The eldest of them, our Great Father, floats up next to our Chief. The people whistle and chortle their respect.
“We are losing our Purpose.”
“Yes, it is true.” He gazes at all the assembly in turn, bringing a heaviness of spirit not typical of our kind. “Most of the humans do not call for help. They have forgotten how.”
Whistles of astonishment from some, agreement from others. Does he mean only Dolphins, or all Allies?
“I have consulted with our friends among the Whale Nation, and they say the same.”
It’s as if Great Father heard my question.
Our chief adds, “And I hear the same from the ground walker and flyer Ally Nations.”
“Why?” I ask.
I did not mean to speak my question. It just burst out of me. I’ve never had all the eyes of our Nation on me, and I hope never again.
“It is an important question.” Great Father studies me. Many of the Humans who communed with Allies have lost the Honored Way. We do not know why. Simply it is. No one is ever apart from Great Mystery, but they do not feel the bond.”
They must feel so alone. I want to speak to Great Father, but not here and now. I have so many questions.
“IF they do not call upon us, we are free to live our lives as we choose.” Chief swishes his flippers, dismissing the notion that this is a problem.
I do not like his response. I think of my Human’s aching heart crying out without knowing she has an Ally. This is not right.
Chief finishes the gathering and all the games and contests begin. Swift will race. Sunny will leap. Mama will try to make the biggest bubble. The attentive gathering disperses to set up obstacle courses, bubble rings, and game boards for a giant festival.
I find Great Father. His family pod surrounds him. Some of them try to run me off.
Great Father swishes his tail, swishing them aside. “Why do you keep this young one from me?” He thrashes his tail and glares at those responsible. I would not want to have him angry with me. They back away, chortling excuses.
Now that I have his attention, my heart pounds.
He nuzzles my nose. “I can see you are troubled by what I shared. Perhaps when you have your One, he or she will know to call out to you.”
“I already have a person.” I tell him about her and how I feel her pain. I am sure he will say I cannot possibly have one to guide at my age, but he does not. He studies me hard. I resist the urge to swim away under his scrutiny.
“This is rare for one so young, but it happens.”
“Thank you for believing me. Everyone else says I’m too young”
He rubs me between the eyes. “You have an important life ahead of you, and a difficult one. I see this.”
“So what do I do? How do I reach out to her?”
“You’ve tried entering the Bubble of Communion?”
“Yes. I can’t get through the membrane.”
“Ah. Yes, she did not call, so the barrier does not open to receive you. I am sorry, young one.”
“So what do I do? And please don’t tell me to let it go and try again when I’m older.” Oh no. I said that out loud, not just in my head.
He laughs, but with a note of sadness. ”I will not tell you that.”
“How did the others who were too young do it?”
He does not answer, and I get impatient. But I keep silent, waiting.
“You will have to find your own way.”
“Won’t you help me?”
“Dear one, it is not that I refuse. I am unable.”
“Then can someone else?”
“The Bubble is our link to the humans we aid. Whales have something much like it. Wolves have a Den between the Worlds. Hummingbirds have a Flower.”
I twitch with impatience. I know this. “Yes, but why can’t I get through?”
“Some linking places are guarded but easily entered. That means they are open on the Ally side. Wolves have that kind. Others, like Hummingbirds and us, gain entry from the physical world. It is the Human calling that opens the door.”
“That’s what the membrane surrounding the Bubble is. Our portal. I wish the opening were on our side so I could get to her.”
Great Father folds his flippers close to his body and scrutinizes me. “You feel one specific human’s pain, yet she does not call for her Ally.”
“Right. I do not understand either. I was hoping you did.”
“I have known this to happen only twice in my long life, but I do not understand. There is a difference.”
“The Bubble won’t open to me, but I know she needs help. And if I know it, shouldn’t I be able to do something for her?”
“You should. Yes. But as to how? Regrettably, I have no advice for you.”
“I have tried, and I will continue.” I thank him and he starts to go.
“Wait please, Great Father. May I ask one last question?”
“Certainly. You are most respectful.”
“What happens to her if I cannot find a way to reach her?”
A long pause.
I hold still and wait.
“Will you accept a harsh truth? If not, go off and play now.”
“I accept the truth. It cannot be worse than what I already feel.”
“A human who fails to seek the help of their Ally suffers. Your Cherished One may live many wheels of seasons feeling utterly alone. Or she may feel so abandoned she ends her life.”
Harsh truth indeed, yet something else gnaws at my tail.
“What happens to us if the humans stop calling to their Allies?”
“That is now two last questions, but I will answer, if you’re certain you want to hear.”
Another long pause. Again I wait.
“Let me say it this way. It is not good for anyone, individual or Nation, to be without purpose. Perhaps the Two-Leggeds will find their way in greater number again and we shall all thrive.”
We swim our separate way. Almost everyone is involved in games, dancing or singing. Play is the Dolphin way, but I do not feel light-hearted. Maybe now that I understand things a little better, I can get into the bubble. Annie doesn’t call for her spirit guide, but she cries out in agony. Close enough?
No one is in or near the Bubble. I try to get in. The slick barrier deflects me, same as always. I swim back and speed toward it. All I gain with that approach is a sore nose and a few head-over-tail backward spins. I approach again, thinking of Annie, feeling her soul-crushing agony all through my own body. Again I bump the barricade.
“I come. I come.” A dolphin I do not know well approaches, intent on answering the summons.
Oh good. Maybe I can slip inside with him. Concentrating on my girl, I glide below him, swimming belly to belly, and together we pass into our link with the human world.
The maelstrom of sensations that assaults me pushes out all thought. Pain, loss, heaviness like trying to move but being held in place. Need air. Need to surface. Can’t move. Not in water now. So many humans. Too many. Some hunt, but not to survive. More maim those who have done no harm. Many starve while others glut. Oppressive yearning goes unanswered. Millions cry out for help to anybody who hears. Where am I? Why am I here? Must escape. How? What do I do? Oh, Great Mystery, please guide me.
My One. I come for you. Where are you?
I think of her. The world’s troubles recede. I can breathe. I can move. One girl weeps. She is far from ocean waters with much hardness and little life around her. I do not understand this place of land and humans, but now I come to know her life and feel her pain. Someone she adores has left the world too soon. A sickness. Her father. She loves him. She is called Annie. She folds in on herself.
I look out through her wet eyes. Much I do not recognize. Strange objects fill her area. She feels comfortable in this space. Her eye water spills down her body.
Annie scratches an image onto a flat place. Whatever humans call the pronged part at the end of their flipper reaches upward. She adds the detail, making it realistic. The emotion I feel as she continues is grasping for something just beyond reach. This is how I feel about connecting with her. I want her to know she has a Spirit Guide.
She lifts her eyes from her art to focus on something near the soft surface where she curls. It has hard edges surrounding the likeness of a dolphin calf stretching out of the water to bump noses with her. The grown male human beside her has his flipper wrapped around her. He shows his teeth. Their expressions show delight. .We Dolphins are joy-bringers.
“Annie.” Please, Annie, feel my presence. Please, Great Mystery, let her know I am here.
More grief water trails from her eyes. She touches the man’s likeness, strokes the dolphin, and hugs the rigid container to her.
“Annie, you’re not alone.” Do I reach her? Does she hear or feel? IF so, is it enough?”
“Best vacation ever.” She dashes across the space to a different sort of container and retrieves a collection of images…pictures, her mind calls them. Several humans. Her pod. Her family and friend Sarah. A floating vessel…boat. Earth dolphins.
“Dolphin” I say, willing her to understand. ”Your Spirit Guide.”
She keeps looking at the pictures, stops to study one of the calf. She sets the…photo album beside her and returns to her art…sketch pad to draw a dolphin swimming toward her, smiling. First little more than an outline, soon a realistic portrayal, minus color. She plans to do more, as the spaces around the dolphin remain undrawn or partially done.
Annie holds her work away from her, studying it, planning her next strokes. She whistles a perfect dolphin greeting.
My link. I am losing it. So tired. I reply, filling my callback with all the joy and gratitude I can summon. Success at last? Yet so much more I want to do. Does she truly know I am her Ally, or does she merely evoke emotion from the time with her father and the earth dolphins?
My awareness slips away against my will. So tired. I cannot hold the link, though I fight hard. I lose my connection with Annie and flail in the miasma of fear, hatred and anguish of earth. Rampant emotion devours me. I am lost. So disoriented. I am not supposed to be here, but where do I belong? How do I get there?
Again, I cannot feel or think or move. Great Mystery, please will you help me?
Awareness returns slowly. Now I feel gentle ocean currents. My whole family pod call to me, frantic. Someone nuzzles me.
At first I cannot move, but I keep trying. Little by little I wriggle tail, flippers, fin and body and they obey. I chortle in delight, tense my tail ready to zoom around my home to see my family and friends, but I’m not sure my body will obey my desire. I feel so week. And exhausted. And hungry.
“Take it slowly, intrepid one,” our healer advises.
Sunny rushes to my side. “Are you all right?” She rubs me from nose to tail.
My first attempt to tell her I’m fine comes out all wrong.
“What’s the matter with him?” Mama wants to know.
“I’m all right, really.” This time I can speak, though I know I sound weak.
“I think he went into shock, but he is unharmed. He will be well soon.”
My parents fuss over me. The healer shoos them away, insisting they save their questions for when I’m recovered. He brings me a bunch of fish and helps me get moving, and I feel much better after that. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much at one time in all my life. We surface, and he stays with me until I feel like myself.
I want to go home, but the healer makes me stay there.
“I’m feeling fine now. Thank you for helping me.”
“Don’t be so impatient. I’m giving you a gift, but you don’t know it.”
“A gift?” I look around, wondering what it could be.
He laughs. “I’m giving you some time to recover before your parents pester you and yell at you for doing something so crazy.”
“You’re right. That is a terrific gift.” I blow bubbles all around him.
Enjoy it while you can. They come for you in the morning. Let’s both get some sleep.”
I feel worn out again and am glad to take his suggestion. As I drift off to sleep, I wonder about Annie. Did I reach her? Will she know she can call on me? Will the Bubble let me enter when she does? What happens to us and the humans if they forget how to call on their Allies altogether?
Predictably, my first day home isn’t much fun. Dad lectures me. Mom is worried about me, ecstatic that I’m all right, and mad at the same time. Swift makes fun of me and says what I did is stupid. None of them understand why I did what I did. Not truly. I’m relieved when some of my friends invite me to a game. We spend the rest of the day together.
I see Great Father watching, so I leave the game to visit him.
“You had quite an adventure.”
“Yes, I did.”
“What have you learned?”
“The earth is a harsh place with so much hatred and pain. Humans have mostly lost their way and feel separate from the Divine Love all around us. “
“Do you know this for certain?”
“I know I have much to learn. Few go into the Bubble of Communion and most are not concerned that the connection between the Spirit world and Earth is lost.”
“I wonder what happens to all of us human and Ally, if too many humans forget they are connected to the Great Mystery.”
“So do I. It is good to play, and it is also good to care.”
“Did I reach Annie in time?”
He nuzzles me. “I have no answer for you. What does your inner knowing tell you?”
I search within me, seeking the truth. “I feel we have a connection now, but I am not certain.”
“Uncertainty is not a bad thing. It keeps us humble and seeking to be better.”
“It is indeed. But who said life shall always be comfortable, even among us playful Dolphins?”
“Our Leaders.” Did I say that out loud?
“And do you believe them?”
“No.” I did say it out loud. “Lots of things are uncomfortable, like Swift smacking me with his fin, or my Ward suffering.”
“Good. You know not to believe everything someone in power says.”
I want to ask him something really big, but my nerve fails me. He turns to go.
“Great Father, wait, please?”
He turns to me, gazes directly into my eyes.
“Great Father, will you teach me what you have learned about helping the Humans?”
He studies me, delving into my spirit.
“I understand I must find my own way, but please will you share your wisdom?”
He scrutinizes me. I wait. Lots of waiting with him. I will have to learn more patience if he is to mentor me. That will be hard.
“Whether or not I am wise is debatable.”
“You have had dozens of Wards. My first attempt knocked me out. I can learn from you, if you are willing.”
“It will be hard work. I will not go easy on you.”
He nuzzles me. “I will mentor you as best I may. Come see me when you return the next time your split-tail calls upon you. Right now, you need rest and play.”
That night I’m about to go to sleep when I hear Annie call to me. I go to the Bubble but stop a short distance away, staring at it, wondering what will happen. Now that I’ve been in there once and almost lost myself twice, I’m a little scared. All that violence, fear and hopelessness. The human world is a frightening place.
Annie cries out for me, and that moves my fins and tail.
“I come, Annie. I come.” I have to keep my mind on her and nothing else. Having her name helps me focus. This time, to my relief, my nose slides right through the membrane. The anguish of earth hits me hard, but this time I do not lose all sense of direction. I keep my attention on Annie and feel the link that binds us pull me through the mayhem straight to her.
She is in her space…her bedroom. I whistle a greeting. She whistles back.
“Am I imagining this?” she asks.
“No.” I speak to her in her mind. “I am here for you, Annie.”
“I must be losing it.” She flops onto the soft place…bed…and buries her face in a squishy thing…pillow.
“Annie. You called for your Spirit Guide. I came to you.”
“Great. I can hardly wait to tell the school counselor my dad died and a dolphin comes to visit me.” She sits, blows hair off her face. Waters fall from her eyes.
Her emotions churn. I flounder in her grief. I don’t know what to do for her.
“I called a power animal?” She looks around, trying to see me but failing.
“Yes. Is that what humans call us?”
“How’d I do that?”
“I don’t know how it all works, but you did, and here I am.”
She laughs. “Weird, but cool, I guess.”
Strange concepts. I struggle to interpret her world.
“Do you have a name?”
“Want to share it so I can call you something other than ‘Dolphin’?”
I feel myself slipping away from her, through the chaos. This time I think of the Bubble and my home. Although completely spent, I return without losing myself.
I swim toward the membrane, exhausted yet elated. Even though I wore out and lost the connection, I’m sure I will get better. Mastering any new skill takes practice. I plan to eat and rest and talk to my mentor.
I do not expect what I see as I emerge.
The eyes of almost our whole Nation are on me. Maybe not the whole nation, but my whole Community Pod and a bunch more still around after the ceremony. So about half our People, all focused on me. Sunny looks excited. Mom trembles. Dad is mad. Swift’s demeanor is self-satisfied. Others show a wide variety of reactions from pleased to anxious to angry.
Why are they all staring at me? Am I in trouble? IF so, for what?
Chief approaches, a grave expression on his normally jovial face.
“How did you enter the bubble this time, Ponder?”
“Through the boundary.”
Some laugh. Some gasp. But I spoke the truth. Chief glares at me.
“Much as I love to play, this is no game. Nobody else came to answer a call, so how did you break into the Bubble?”
“I am not playing and I did not lie. My ward Annie called out to me. I honestly did not know if the Bubble would let me pass, but I swam through and went to help her.”
“This is not possible. You are too young to have a human.”
“Clearly I am not, because I have one.” I try to maintain respect. I truly do. But I am vibrating and simply cannot stop myself. “It’s true I snuck in the first time, but now it lets me enter.”
Supreme Elder swims between us. She favors me with a kind expression.
“Are you all right, young one?”
I glance around the huge assembly. “Uh…tired, hungry, and not liking all this attention.”
“Nor would I.”
“Why am I in trouble for doing what an Ally is supposed to do?”
“That is an excellent question.” She spins to face Chief, who backs away from her. ”Why do you chide him for following his calling?”
“You may be Chief, but that does not make everything you say and do correct.” She raises her voice to address everyone. “This young one has utmost courage. When he could not get through the membrane, he found a way to reach the one he is destined to serve.”
Chief shoots me a look that should heat all the water in this part of the ocean before zooming away. That can’t be good for my future.
“You did it!” Sunny rushes up and swims all around me, spinning and nuzzling. “I am so proud of you.”
Everyone is still focusing on me. Somehow I feel agitated and exhausted to the point of slipping into sleep at the same time. I desperately want to leave with Sunny and my family.
“You are not in trouble with me or any of the Elder Council.” Supreme Elder’s laugh calms me.
Anxiety washes away like a receding wave.
“This one is a child no more, and he has earned a True Name. You shall evermore call him Intrepid. Now all of you, go live your lives in joy and peace, and let him live his. It is never wrong to be of service.”
A giant party erupts all around me. I revel in the joy of finding a way to follow my call.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish