Sammy Shark darts in and around the rock formations with excitement. Today he gets to leave the family’s grotto for the first time. His smile grows wide. The sides of his mouth hurt. He struggles to wait a minute longer. It’s time to make new friends.
Mama shark swims up to Sammy and says, “Be careful, sweetheart. Not everyone will want to play with you.
“But why not,” questions Sammy. “You say I have a precious smile.”
“Sweetie, some sea creatures have had experiences that make them see things differently,” says Mama. “Making friends is hard. We share a little about ourselves, then learn a little about them. Some fish don’t have the patience to learn.”
“I understand, Mama.” With that comment, Sammy swims off.
Sammy spots a school of clownfish and swims to them. They become motionless and stare at him. To be polite, Sammy smiles. The fish scatter in all directions. “I guess they don’t have the patience to learn about me,” says Sammy.
Sammy swoops in and around rock formations and comes upon rainbow fish. The fish shiver and shake when they see him.
“How do you do,” says Sammy with a big smile. The fish swim off in different directions.
One of the cute little fish swims upward. Sammy notices a wide net headed toward the little guy. Sammy swims upward to warn him.
A nearby crab trembles as he watches Sammy chase after the little fish. “Poor fishy is about to become someone’s lunch,” says Charlie crab.
The little fish glances back and sees Sammy Shark headed straight for him. He turns up his speed, oblivious to the net moving his way. Suddenly the little guy is caught in the crowded net with hundreds of fish. The netting presses hard against his little body as it continues dragging in more fish. His pain is intense.
Sammy swims away disappointed. After all, the little fishy chose to ride in a net instead of getting to know him.
Weaving back and forth, Sammy swims deeper into the water. He spots Charlie but doesn’t bother to smile. He glides past him.
“That’s it?” asks Charlie Crab. “You’re just going to give up?”
Sammy swims around and faces the crab.
“Hi Mr. Crab, I’m Sammy. I was trying to make a friend and even smiled. But no one has the patience to learn how I can be a good friend.”
“Oh, it’s not patience they need,” says Charlie. “They don’t understand how your pearly whites can help them.”
“I don’t understand, Mr….”
“Call me Charlie. They don’t know if you are a friend or foe. Your teeth are big and sharp enough to hurt them.”
“My Mama told me their experiences might stop them from getting to know me,” says Sammy with a tear forming in his eye. “I don’t know what to do. The little guy seemed more interested in taking a ride with other fish.”
“That’s no ride,” says Charlie. Those fish were trapped to become someone’s dinner.”
Sammy perks up. “I’ve got to save them.” Sammy puts his strong tail fin to work and speeds toward the net.
The net cuts into the little guy’s belly as it hoists upward—the little rainbow fish shivers as he watches Sammy move toward the net super-fast.
Sammy smiles big and chomps down on the rope. The strands snap, and the little rainbow fish flops out into open waters. He’s free.
“Hi, I’m Sammy.”
“Did you save me to be your lunch?” asks the shaking rainbow fish.
“I saved you because I’m a good friend,” says Sammy.
“Well, don’t you think everyone else could be your friend too?”
Sammy smiles big, spins around, and chomps at more of the netting. Dozens and dozens of fish are freed and swim away. Sammy smiles and turns back to see all of his new friends, but he is alone. Sad, Sammy slowly swims back to the family grotto.
On his way, Charlie calls out to him. “So, Sammy, did you save that little rainbow fish?”
“I saved lots of fish, but no one wants to be my friend.”
“It’s hard to make friends. They need time to learn that your teeth, strength of your tail fin, and the color of your skin don’t make you bad.”
“Mama told me making friends takes patience.”
Sammy shows a slight grin and swims slowly away. But he sees something out of the corner of his eye and turns.
The little rainbow fish swims right up to him. “Hi, I’m Robbie,” says the little guy. “I want to thank you for saving us. My friends are still talking about how you helped us. Do you want to meet my friends?”
Sammy smiles without showing his teeth and nods. The two new friends swim off together.
Copyright ©2021 by CJ Powers