This story comes from Daring and Darling, who wants to know why these seals are so tired. He also asks that I not kill any creatures in this story. I make no promises.
Thanks for the submission!
In the seal community, Bruno knew all there was to know. He hung out by the fish bucket throughout the day and caught up on all the daily gossip as his fellow seals stopped by for a snack.
He knew that Waldo was on an unsalted fish diet, and that Matilda was learning to swim backwards. He knew about all gatherings and everyone’s personal news, good and bad. But that all changed one day, when word of The Secret spread around the pod.
It all started on a relatively normal afternoon. Bruno was laying on his back, letting the sun dry up all the little water droplets on his skin. He was feeling slightly sorry for himself, though he did not feel like saying why to any of the seals.
As he turned his head to watch the waves in the distance, he heard the familiar sound of hurried whispering behind him.
“Oh good,” Bruno said to himself. “I love gossip.”
He flopped over and swam to the corner where Matilda and Harriet were talking.
“What’s the scuttlebutt?” he asked.
But as soon as Bruno had joined them, Matilda and Harriet immediately hushed themselves. They shut their mouths tight and stared solemnly at Bruno. Bruno cocked his head and looked back and forth between the two seals. He was never shut out of gossip. This had to mean that they were gossiping about him!
“Tell me what you were talking about!” he said. But Harriet waved her flipper at him.
“It’s a secret!” she said. “Now go away!”
When Bruno did not leave, Matilda and Harriet decided they would continue their whispering some other place, and left Bruno by himself in the corner.
“How rude,” Bruno said. But inside, he was shaking. There was a secret. About Bruno! Had someone seen the rubber ducky he slept with at night? Did someone find out that he had to use floaties when he first learned to swim? Maybe someone had even guessed the reason why Bruno liked to be around the fish bucket so much. It was not truly due to his love of fish, as Bruno often told them. It was because he was hoping to make one true friend; a friend who would care about him on the days he needed it most.
Right now, in some ways he had lots of friends, but in other ways he had none. This was his deepest secret of all.
All day Bruno swam about in circles, worried about The Secret. He met other groups of seals who had their heads close together chatting and murmuring. As Bruno passed by, they giggled and watched him. Bruno was miserable.
The sun was sinking into the ocean and Bruno had spent the whole day wandering by himself, hearing his name whispered in the water. If he thought the morning was bad, by now he knew that this had been one of the worst days of his life. He swam down to his sleeping place, next to a big rock where he stashed his rubber ducky every night.
Just as Bruno reached the rock, Waldo jumped out behind it.
“Hey buddy,” Waldo said. “Whatcha up to?”
“Nothing,” Bruno said. He looked away for fear that he might cry.
Waldo swam and stopped right in front of Bruno.
“Care for a snack?”
“Come on, I have a secret to tell you.”
A secret? Could this have been the very same secret the rest of the seals had been hiding all day?
“Is this a secret about me?” Bruno asked.
Bruno sighed and followed Waldo towards the corner where the fish bucket was. He considered telling Waldo about how horrible his day had been. But he wasn’t sure if he could really count on Waldo as a real, true friend.
“Waldo,” Bruno said quietly. “Did you know that today…”
“Is Wednesday!” Waldo said happily.
Bruno sighed again and kept swimming after Waldo. Once or twice he thought about turning back, but his curiosity on finding out that stupid secret pulled him to the surface. He saw the stars shining through the last few inches of water, then whoosh, his head was out and the dark wind came to cool him.
The world was silent for a moment. It made Bruno feel so lonely.
Then all at once the rest of the seals jumped up from the water. They had formed a circle around Bruno.
“Surprise!” they all shouted. “Happy birthday!”
Bruno looked all around from seal to seal.
“You knew?” he asked incredulously.
“Of course we did,” Harriet said. “Waldo’s been planning this all day!”
“You have?” Bruno asked.
“That’s what friends are for,” Waldo answered, and he turned and dumped the fish bucket into the water for everyone to feast on in honor of Bruno’s special day.
After eating and playing and swimming and eating and then eating some more, the seals flopped onto the deck, full and happy under the moon. But no seal was more full or happy than the birthday seal, Bruno.