Saturday, July 30, 2011

Chapter 16: Distractions

Time seemed to be moving slower for Tristan today than it had any other day of his life. He had gotten to work on time (a little early, actually), but Nora had not been impressed. She had hardly even noticed him, so it seemed. She told him to get everything ready then meet her out in front of the zoo. From there, they had given their tours as usual, but Nora hadn’t let Tristan say a word. In fact, she had ignored Tristan for most of the tour. Each time he had tried to open his mouth, Nora had cut him off or sent him a sharp glare. Needless to say, Tristan had not liked that one bit.

“Is there any particular reason you’re being so rude to me today?” Tristan asked as he and Nora grabbed their lunchboxes out of their lockers.

“What do you think?” Nora asked icily. She slammed the locker door closed and turned towards the door of the employee’s lounge.

“Wait! Don’t just walk away from me! Communication is key to a relationship!” Tristan blurted out, not realizing what he was saying. Nora glanced back at him, a confused expression on her face.

“We’re not in a relationship.” Nora said quickly, a glare on her face. Tristan stared at her for a moment, a little puzzled by what he had said as well.

“Um…I didn’t mean, like…a relationship in that sense… More like a friendship…” Tristan said slowly. Nora sighed, her shoulders dropping.

“We can’t be friends if you keep bashing something I’m passionate about.” she said softly. Her eyes had suddenly changed. She didn’t look furious anymore; she just looked hurt. Tristan swallowed hard. He wasn’t sure what to say next.

“Well, it’s just that… I think that sea-life belongs in the sea…” he said, trying to choose his words carefully.

“But sometimes these animals are taken out of the sea for a reason.” Nora replied gently. Tristan looked at her with a questioning expression on his face. Nora sighed and began explaining.

“A lot of the animals here have actually been saved because of this park. We have a program that rescues animals whose habitats have been endangered by oil spills or pollution, and most of the animals are kept here instead of put back into those dangerous habitats. We also take in animals that have been injured in fishing accidents. Sometimes, when fishermen put down nets, they catch swordfish, turtles, dolphins, and we actually have a whale that was trapped in a net as a baby. Instead of the fishermen putting the injured animals back into the water or just killing them outright, we’ll send a team out to pick up the animal and bring it back here until it heals. We’ve had scuba divers bring in animals from the reefs nearby, and most of the animals that have been brought to us would have died without our help. The blanket octopus is a great example of that.” Nora finished softly, but her eyes were alight with a fire Tristan hadn’t seen before. It wasn’t anger, but it wasn’t some sort of happiness, either… It was more like passion. Nora really was passionate about her job.

“Really? The blanket octopus was brought in by someone?” Tristan asked, walking towards Nora. Nora nodded.

“Yep. A few years ago someone brought in this tiny little octopus that was missing a leg. We kept the octopus in a tank, discovered what it needed to live happily, and took care of it here. It’s been thriving ever since.” A small smile came to Nora’s lips as she spoke. Tristan couldn’t help but smile a little as well.

“So, you don’t just take animals out of their natural habitats without good reason?” he asked, just for clarification.

“Nope. If the animals aren’t brought in because they’re injured, then they’ve been born and raised here.” Nora replied quickly.

“Oh…so, they’re not all animals that have been injured…” Tristan said softly.

“No, but would you really want them to be?” Nora asked, giving Tristan a pointed look.

“Well, no, but I just thought, after that speech, that all of the animals had been brought in because they were injured.”

“You’d be surprised as to the number of eggs one fish can lay. Usually there are too many baby fish to keep here, so we release some of them back into the wild once they’re old enough.” Nora said quickly.

“But the ones that were brought in because they were injured stay here for the rest of their lives?” Tristan asked. Nora nodded.

“Yes, but sometimes they have to stay here, or else they’ll die.” Nora replied. Tristan thought for a moment.

“What about the blanket octopus? Does it need to stay here to survive?” Tristan asked quickly.

“The blanket octopus is healthy enough to, in theory, survive in the wild. However, because it’s been raised here since it was a baby, just dropping it into the sea would be quite a shock to it. It would have to be introduced to life in the sea very slowly to make a good transition.” Nora explained. Tristan was silent for a minute, thinking about everything Nora had said.

“Hm… Interesting…” he murmured.

“Do you understand a little more where I’m coming from now?” Nora asked hesitantly. Tristan glanced down at her.

“Yeah, a little bit.” he replied softly. Nora smiled slightly.

“Good. Now, let’s go have lunch.” she said, turning and walking away. Tristan followed after her, everything she had said playing through his mind.

After hearing all of that, it was going to be incredibly difficult to protest the park…

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