Sammy Shark: Unlikely Friends

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

The Spectacle of a Husband

Daniela watched in horror as one of the ropes snapped from her husband’s antique trapeze, forcing her to ponder life without abuse—if she doesn’t save the bastard.

The crowd under the big top shrieked when the artist’s hands slipped to the end of the white rope. Two spotlights locked on Alejandro dangling forty feet above the center ring. Two more spotlights angled on the floor where the disconnected safety net lay.

The ringmaster signaled the clowns to grab the net and hold it taught to lessen Alejandro’s impact of hitting the sawdust-covered concrete floor. In the stands, frightened children were turned from the attraction, but some felt compelled to watch the acrobat’s demise. A few mothers took their children outside.

Daniela scanned the area for a solution, needing to demonstrate an attempt to save him and avoid being frowned upon. She wondered if an elephant’s back might spare him from splattering on the ground. She hustled to the elephant trainer who shook his head.

The clowns got tangled in the stretchy net and drew nervous laughter from the bleachers. Daniela jogged out back to the lion tamer and suggested rolling the parade cage under the trapeze. He pointed across the midway where the broken wheel was propped up next to the timbers keeping the cage level.

Daniela jogged back to the big top. Alejandro was still dangling above. She glared at her abuser, but compassion washed over her. Staying true to herself, she jogged backstage to look for a solution. She stopped next to a water cooler and grinned.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” shouted the ringmaster. “Welcome to the center ring, Daniela, the strongest woman in the world.”

The confused crowd gave a smattering of applause. Daniela walked in holding a small paper cup with water splashing over its edges. Silence fell under the big top.

“The great Alejandro will perform his new, death-defying, high-diving act from a height of forty feet and land in the water held by the strongest woman in the world.”

Daniela encircled the point underneath Alejandro. She lifted the water cup high and signaled she was ready.

Alejandro rotated his body to see the expression on every face before letting go. This would be the greatest feat in circus history or make headlines as the dumbest stunt resulting in death. He was ready.

Releasing his grip, Alejandro fell like a dagger headed toward his wife.

Alejandro snapped his body horizontally. His back hit the cup of water. Daniela swung her arms, squatted, and released, sending Alejandro sideways across the floor. His feet hit the center ring, popped him upright with his hands high in the air. He received a great ovation and bowed. Alejandro extended his hand to his wife for a second bow. She took his hand in hers and bowed. It felt like their early years with her heart filled with hope.

The circus sold out the next day when the newspaper headlines read: “Strong Woman and Acrobat Astound All.”

Copyright © 2021 by CJ Powers

The Special Gift

Davey felt like a 12-year-old misfit. While his peers were showing an interest in soccer and football, he preferred to play. Make-believe was his favorite pastime and he was good at it. In fact, he’d find himself daydreaming when he least expected it.

His penchant for creativity trumped all other areas of his life and the girl he met at the park during his preschool years, Susan, had both a serious side and a playful one. He daily contemplated how to get her attention and every year he longed to send her a birthday present, but he didn’t want his weirdness to show.

No matter how many other girls at school caught his attention from time to time, he thought of Susan far more often, except for one girl who moved away before his seventh birthday. But he figured that he was too young to hunt her down and wrote off any potential relationship as being an immature infatuation.

One summers day, Davey’s imagination got the best of him when he came across a giant troll lying on its back in the park. The troll was twenty times larger than he ever imagined, and friendlier too. Davey cocked his head to see what the troll was looking at in the sky, but one of the trees was in his way. Hustling to the troll’s other side, Davey laid down in the grass and tried to see what had sparked the troll’s interest.


“Hi, Davey,” said the sweet voice next to him.

Davey turned abruptly and found Susan lying next to him with her arms behind her head. Jolted to an upright seated position Davey asked, “How long have you been here?”

“I watched you come around this big troll with your eyes so glued to him that you never saw me,” she said. “Do you not like how I look?”

“I love how… I mean, you look great.”

“Thank you.”

Davey leaned back and looked up in the sky. He shifted his head a bit closer to Susan’s to see what she was looking at. “Are you counting sheep or watching a parade of elephants?”

Susan giggled. She thought Davey was silly, but wondered if he ever paid close attention to her. She liked him a lot, but was tired of waiting for him to ask her to go steady.

“Davey, what do you see in the sky?”

“I see an adventure waiting to unfold.”

“Tell me about it, please.”

Troll_ClubA boisterous growl came from the tree line. Davey and Susan jumped to their feet. A large troll with a giant club came out from the trees. The kids made a run for it. They sprinted through the tall grass, across a footbridge that wasn’t patrolled by trolls, and down a winding street. They slowed once they realized that trolls couldn’t run fast.


Troll_TossA large crushing metal sound reverberated from the parking lot. The two ran to the corner and saw a giant troll toss a boulder, crushing a car. Davey scanned the area and saw several smashed cars with people fleeing. As the troll raised another rock, he knew this was his chance to save Susan’s life and win her affection. He reached for her arm, but she was gone.

Davey moved quickly through the woods in search of his friend, but she was nowhere in sight. He wondered if she had been lifted up into the air and carried off by another troll. troll_cook.jpgEmerging from the bushes, Davey found the troll’s campsite. A kettle was boiling with the catch of the day over hot timbers—the poor man.

Troll_CageSuddenly he saw Susan dropped into a cage and held for an afternoon snack. Davey waited patiently for the troll to settle in his teepee for a nap. Moving silently around the perimeter of the camp, Davey unlocked the cage and ran with Susan through the tall grass and into the plains.

They were in the clear. They shouted with joy and twirled around. And like spinning flowers, they slowly dropped to the ground side-by-side and gazed up into the sky. It was a good day.

The alarm clock sounded and Davey woke up. He climbed out of bed and got dressed. His time with Susan was over. He felt a sense of loss and decided to grab his calendar to see if he had really missed her birthday. With only a couple days before she celebrated, Davey realized that he wasn’t going to be able to send her anything in time.

His sadness shifted and a smile rose on his face when he realized that he could send her an imaginary gift. He figured that if she really liked him, she would pretend to receive an imaginary gift, knowing in her heart that he’d want to give her something. And if their unspoken love was true, they’d both look forward to the day when they’d share what each other dreamt about. How amazing, Davey thought, if they both dreamt of the same gift.


© 2018 by CJ Powers