“But there is something really serious. These people at Sea World are torturing the poor whales. Its terrible! I, er, might of followed these evil guys into a room where I overheard them planning to train the poor whale.”
“Pencils down, hand in your tests on my desk,” Ms. Arnold announced.
School was finally over! I felt like yelping with joy! Everything was perfect at that very moment. Though Ms. Arnold’s biology tests were hard, I made sure to impress her. I stayed up late at night, studying hard, and it always paid off. Every time I answered a question, I felt so relieved that I had studied the night before. I felt so devoted to biology, and nature. I don’t want to be self-centered, but I aced all of her tests. I was determined to do well on that important biology final.
After I handed in my test, I dashed into the hallway, sneakers squeaking on the polished tile floor. I swung my unzipped backpack onto my shoulders and rushed up to join my friends.
“Where have you been, Alicia?” my best friend Maria asked me.
“I was saying goodbye to Ms. Arnold,” I said as I grinned.
“Oh, come on, no need to get overexcited.”
Maria is a model student; and even though we are just leaving sixth grade, she’s probably smarter than some of the soon to be eighth graders. And everyone knows that she is as modest as it is possible to be. I personally think it is absurd how every piece of work she does is perfect.
As I marched out of the doors of our school, I instantly joined the mob of girls swarming just outside the school building.
“That test was actually not that bad,” Emma shrieked, trying to overcome all of the booming noise.
Maybe I wasn’t the only one who loves biology. I silently agreed with Emma.
I scanned the crowd to find Maria. I saw her talking to Jenna. I grabbed her away.
“Where to?” Maria said, looking puzzled.
“Well, Mom told me I had to be home by 4:00.”
“Uh, sure. My dad probably wants to talk about the big test.”
“Okay, great. Awww,” I crooned “Look to your left. There’s a nest of little baby birds! How ADORABLE! I simply looove animals. Especially the little innocent babies!”
We cut through the crowd, dashed down the sidewalk, and ducked into the subway. We swiped our cards, and ran up the steps. Suddenly, a huge wave of tourists, New Yorkers, and other people flooded the stairway.
“Urg, we missed the train!” Maria swore under her breath.
“Well, I guess I better go,” I said. I didn’t want Mom to worry.
And then, we went our separate ways.
When I finally got home, I burst through the door, happy as a lark. Apparently, Mom caught on immediately.
“How was your last day of school, Pumpkin?” she said smothering me in fat, wet kisses.
“I can’t believe you are a seventh grader now!” Mom exclaimed.
“Hey, how was your biology final?”
“Woo hoo! Great job! I have a special surprise for you!”
Usually Mom’s surprises were actually good surprises, like that time when we found out we were moving to the city. And because of this, I started bouncing up and down on the edge of my seat.
“Tomorrow, we leave for San Diego, California, where you are going to see your cousins that you have never met before. They live in Seattle, Washington. It is a really long flight, and we’re staying there for five weeks, so I suggest you start packing now.” She motioned to the doorway. I made my way to my room.
I pulled out my favorite purple duffle bag, and stacked some clothes on my bed. I pulled out a pair of pajamas. A hair brush, some shampoo, body lotion. More toiletries. Blankets. My diary, sketchbook, some pens and pencils and my summer homework. In due course, I was done. I zipped up my stuffed duffel bag, and heaved it out of my room and through my door.
“I’m ready!” I called out.
“Great. Just in time for dinner,” Mom added. Then, Mom started talking a mile a minute. “Okay, so, we have rented a house. It is three floors high. You are sharing the attic bedroom with Sophie and Alex, your cousins. Sophie is 11, and Alex is 13. Your brother Jordan has the little alcove in the hallway, so please, please don’t make fun of him. We have to leave for the airport at 3:oo AM sharp.”
Whoa. that was early. I gobbled down my mashed potatoes and avocado salad and rushed into bed.
“G’night,” I called out to her. I climbed into my bed, and pulled the covers over me. The next thing I knew, Jordan was shaking me awake.
“Time to wake up!” He sneered.
“Wazthisallabout” I muttered.
Okay, now I was awake. I climbed out of bed, pulled my hair back into a ponytail. I basically sleepwalked into the car. It all happened so quickly. We went through the airport, onto the plane, and into San Diego. I fell asleep about three times on the plane, but I was woken up each time due to my stomach gurgling from nasty airport food. I guess some other people were also having stomach troubles for the person three seats behind us puked and it stunk worse than a rotting dumpster in a run down side street. Needless to say I was happy when I got out of the plane. It was already evening when I finally got to meet my cousins.
“Hi! I’m Alex. You are…” Alex’s voice trailed off.
“I’m Sophie. I’m 11 years old, I live in Washington state, my favorite food is caramel apples, I’m on my school’s softball team, my favorite color is brown, and I love, love, love alpacas,” Sophie said all in one breeze.
“Er, I’m… Alicia.”
“Okay, cool. That’s such a pretty name. Mom told me that we were going to Sea World aquarium tomorrow. I’m so excited. All of my friends say it’s amazing. I’m so excited to see the whales. Everybody says that they are supposed to be trained,” Alex went on.
“Yeah, I’m pretty excited for it too.” There wasn’t much more for me to say. I turned around and went to our bedroom.
* * *
Soon enough, it was morning. Sunlight streamed out through the window. I yawned and sat up slowly. I got out of bed and stretched. I threw on a tank-top and a pair of ripped jean shorts. I stepped into my well worn flip-flops and hobbled into the kitchen. I used a rubber band bracelet to pull up my hair into a ponytail and I poured myself a bowl of cereal.
“Who is that?” came a voice from the bedroom.
“Don’t have any breakfast without me!” It was Alex’s voice. I heard a lot of rustling from the big attic bedroom and some noisy footsteps from the stairs. CLOMP, CLOMP, CLOMP.
“There you are.” It was Alex. She had an elaborate braid in her hair, and her face was drenched in blush, eyeliner, mascara, and bright pink lipstick.
“Oh, hi,” I mumbled. “Oh! We’re going to Sea World today. I’m so excited!” Alex looked at me like she was encouraging me to go up on stage and play a solo on my flute, so I raised an eyebrow. Alex’s creepy smile suddenly changed into a regular one. Soon enough, Aunt Zella was awake, and so was Mom and Jordan. In the meantime, our family pack would be traveling to Sea World aquarium. Alex, Sophie, Aunt Zella (whose spouse was home sick), Mom, Jordan, and obviously me, all piled into our rented minivan.
VROOM, VROOM, VROOM, went the van’s engine, The piece of junk tottered onto the highway.
We pulled into the parking lot, and all of the adults and children clambered out of the van.
“Okay, let’s have some order here!” came Mom’s voice. “We are going to visit the sea lions first, and then the sea turtles. We will then see the electric eels, and then the sharks. Finally, for the grand finale, we are going to see the big orca show. Kids, I’m sure this will be lots of fun, and Sea World is very educational. If you kids like Sea World enough, we might find time to come back to later on in this vacation. Everyone excited?” There was a long awkward silence. No one was as enthusiastic as Mom, but she continued. “Great!”
Anyway, Alex, Sophie, and I dragged behind the adults, tagging along about 10 feet away. The sea lions were cool, and so were the turtles. I marveled at the electric eels, but Sophie LOVED them.
“They’re the alpacas of the sea,” Sophie awed matter of factly.
If the electric eels were amazing, the sharks were out-of-this-world.
I thought that they were so elegant, gliding across the serene tank.
“I love them,” I managed to make out. Alex was literally pressing her nose to the glass, and Sophie was trying to communicate with one small whale on the extreme right of the tank. When Aunt Zella finally pulled us kids away from the tanks, it was time to go to the orca show.
As Sophie and I were running up ahead to catch up to Mom and Aunt Zella, we realized that Alex wasn’t with us.
I looked behind us, and there was Alex, looking for something. Sophie and I backtracked, and found Alex locating her silver gold compact. Alex searched the ground, and then hollered out, “I found it!”
Right when Alex had stood up, Sophie noticed a mysterious door. The least Alex and I could do was to follow Sophie.
Soon enough, we came to a slowdown. Our threesome hid in an alcove in the hallway as I saw two men carrying a thing wrapped in white.
“That’s an orca whale!” whispered Alex excitedly. We followed the men through another doorway. Then I had to duck through a short, wide door, and then Alex, Sophie, and I hid in a corner draped in shadows in a large room. Though I couldn’t see very well, I could hear the same two men muttering.
“Well, you know Edd, this feisty baby’s gonna take a long time to train. It’s been a long journey from where we captured him, and this babe’s gettin’ really restless. And when I captured him along with the crew, it took a good three hours to pull ‘im away from his family.”
It was terrible! How could these Sea World employees rip whales away from their lives? I’d read in books that orca whales were very intelligent animals, and what the Sea World employees didn’t know is that the orca whales have feelings, too! I tried to whisper all of my thoughts to Sophie, but she was too perplexed.
“This is evil,” Sophie managed to mutter. “Simply evil.”
Then I saw Mr. Edd turn toward our hidey hole. He grinned.
“Hmmm, what do we have here . . . “said Edd. I shrieked.
Sophie, Alex, and I bolted down the hallway, and appeared out of the door we came out of.
“We gotta do something about that!” Alex exclaimed. “How can they torture those poor whales! We gotta, gotta, gotta do something about that.”
“I know,” I muttered, my voice shaking with fear. “But first, we gotta find Mom.”
I headed to the visitor center. Sophie and Alex were tailing me. I ran up to Mom who was running around screaming.
“Oh honey, where were you?” Mom was frantic, her voice quivering. “I couldn’t find you anywhere!”
“Um, I was doing some stuff. . . er . . . with my fellow cousins. But there is something really serious. These people at Sea World are torturing the poor whales. It’s terrible! I, er, might have followed these evil guys into a room where I overheard them planning to train the poor whale. Oh! It was sooo terrible!” It was hard to explain my feelings toward these whales. If there was only a way to help. I wish.
I glanced over and saw Sophie looking over some pamphlets. She was wide eyed and there was a big smile on her face.
“I know what we have to do.”
* * *
I was back home, sitting on Alex’s bed, along with Alex and Sophie. Though we looked like we were having a reading club meeting, we were actually all huddled over the same little pamphlet. I simply couldn’t believe it. There was a debate tomorrow! Sea World desperately wanted to expand their tank sizes, but animal rights activists had a strong NO. I had told Mom and Dad (who had arrived from the city a couple minutes ago) about the debate, and they had agreed that I could go to the debate/protest. Aunt Zella also agreed that we were doing a good deed. I couldn’t wait for tomorrow!
* * *
“Are we there yet?” Alex complained.
“Almost!” replied Aunt Zella. In 5 mins, we were there. I was lead into a big, dimly lit room. Then, my family members and I were led into seats by a big, mysterious man in a dark suit. Next, a man started speaking. “Sea World is an excellent place for children to learn about sea life, and to inspire kids to become marine biologists.”
Oh, great. I didn’t know that Sea World had such good argument. But, if everything went well, hopefully Sea World would fall for the last time.
Oh, another man was practically screaming now. His face was completely red, and he was literally exploding with anger.
“Sea World is a terrible place for imprisonment! The poor orca whales have feelings, just like you and me!” Flecks of saliva were flying from the man’s mouth and they were spraying in my face.
“Ikkk!” I muttered under my breath. The spitty man continued.
“The worst part of Sea World is that they breed more whales and those whales are born into misery!
Wow. This debate was kind of too much for me. I kind of tuned out. As I started to nod off, I was shaken awake. It was Alex.
“The debate is over! The judge made the decision! I can’t believe it! The San Diego Sea World is not allowed to capture or breed ANY more orca whales!”
“OMG, OMG, OMG!!! I can’t believe it either! So we won! Well, we kinda did. OMG! I’m so happy!” I couldn’t believe that we actually got our way!
Mom was tapping me on the shoulder.
“Time to go Sweetie Pie,” Mom whispered. And the big happy family piled into the big black van, and we drove away, cheering down the road.