The only meeting Harper had had with her father had been at Dora’s wedding. He might still have been handsome if he hadn’t been so thin, his face marred by an alcoholic sheen. She shuddered and clutched the armrests, a last vestige of her childhood fear of flying. One gentle bump, and the plane landed smoothly on the runway. Immediately she grabbed her phone and tapped her foot as it powered up. The two-hour plane ride was an eternity to be unplugged.
She dropped the towel, handed the cup to Lucille, and ran back into the water.We’re going to carry her up to the truck. Can you take a side?
Of course. But now that she’s loose, can’t you just let her go? Carson asked.No, the veterinarian replied abruptly. These injuries need medical attention. Okay, on the count of three.Each of the four grabbed a handle of the flexible stretcher. Then, on the count, they synchronized their movements and gently lifted the stretcher. Carson’s muscles shook as she determinedly kept her side of the stretcher level, step by step. At the water’s edge Harper and Dora each grabbed a side to assist on the agonizingly long trip up the steep slope to the truck, then up the metal ramp to lay the dolphin in a special transport carrier.
Carson slumped back, exhausted, as once again, she was ignored. The men huddled over Delphine, Blake and the other man working in tandem as the vet treated her. Carson walked down the ramp to Mamaw and huddled under her towel, waiting. After a short while, the vet got back on his cell phone. Blake jumped down from the truck.Carson walked toward Blake, who was wringing out the bottom of his shirt. Behind her, Lucille brought the tray filled with steaming black coffee and food. She held the tray up to Blake and he took a cup, gratefully. Lucille proceeded to the truck and offered the same to the other men.
How is she? Carson asked Blake.
Blake’s eyes narrowed over the rim of his cup as he sipped. He shook his head. Not good. We prefer to treat and release a dolphin after we get the wire off, but there are too many injuries. And there’s that damn hook. It’s in deep. She needs to go to a hospital.Did you really like my poems? The words rushed out of my mouth.
Quite abruptly Tobias stopped walking and turned to face me. The pull of his gaze was so strong I had no option but to stare up into his eyes. Yes, Comet. I really liked your poems.Something warm and sweet flooded me but before it even had time to settle, he continued, Reading them...well...it was the first time in a long time that I didn’t feel so alone.
My breath stuttered at his confession and, standing there on the esplanade with this boy who had once been a stranger, I felt something within me shift. I suddenly felt this fierce protectiveness toward him. His kindness, his understanding and his connection to my poems created a bond that flared in the dusk between us.For the first time in a long time, I didn’t feel so alone either.