I ran into a family acquaintance on a whale tour. She was wearing binoculars around her neck.
She said: what happened to you? I heard you became a homeless junkie in the city or something, that you’re a prostitute at the side of the road – someone even told me you OD’d.
And I said: yes, it’s all true.
She pouted. Well, you don’t have to be rude, I was just kidding. People your age have no sense of humor. Your parents, they were funny.
We had just left the harbor in Cabo San Lucas. The rules were simple: no swimming, no feeding, no touching. The whales needed space.
She continued. Seriously now, I heard you gave birth to a stillborn and that’s why you went crazy, got addicted to painkillers, stopped eating. And I’m not one to judge, OK? People have stories, even though I was never a junkie person, but you never know, I still have time. She laughed, almost snortled.
I fiddled with my life jacket.
She said: you don’t talk much now, I can tell. You used to smile a lot, remember? You and the Kirshner boy, like dolphins in love. Are you on vacation? With him? She looked around.
There were no whales in sight.
She brushed my shoulder with her fingertips. Well anyway, that’s nice. A bit of sun. You look so pale and skinny. Hey Isaac! Isaac! Come meet someone special! That’s my bar mitzvah boy, the youngest; you’ve never met him, it was after you left town. He wanted to go whale watching for his birthday, and now I meet you here, what a surprise—Isaac, come!
She rolled her eyes as if a tornado passed through her brain. Well, he’s probably busy watching whales, he’s obsessed with them, wants to be a whale vet – can you imagine that? A Jewish whale vet? I’m not one to judge, but Abe and I hoped he’ll be a bit more—more—Oh my god, here’s a whale!
She cemented the binoculars to her face. You have to see this.
I didn’t turn around. Instead, I went to the other side of the vessel and took off my life jacket. Then I heard a splash. It was a boy. A perfect redhead boy. Floating on his back alongside the whales. Happy.
Noa Sivan was born and raised in Israel and is currently living in Granada, Spain. She is a graphic designer and a writer. Her stories have been published in Jellyfish Review, (b)OINK zine, Ellipsis Magazine, FRiGG, and others.