Michelle Elvy
October 2016 Commended

Whale Shark

by Michelle Elvy

I dreamed I was a whale shark dreaming he was a boy dreaming he was a whale shark dreaming he was a boy dreaming he was a whale shark dreaming he was a boy. Illuminating. Diving. Soaring. All in one night, or maybe it was one hour, or even one minute. I dove down down down and found fluorescent charms swinging from the snouts of seahorses. I flew firecrackerfast, fearsome and jubilant at the dizzying depths and the iridescent shape of things. I fed on plankton but they weren’t plankton at all – they were morsels of delight, merry magical minstrels skipping on my tongue, pressing and lifting at the same time. Between bites (gapes, because there’s no chewing when you’re a whale shark) I napped and dreamed, and I was the boy, and I had a ladder, and I climbed and climbed and climbed. The ladder went up to the top of my house and beyond. It touched treetops and the salt of the sea-sky in the harbour. It exceeded the reach of my mother’s call, way out in the everdark of the night. I dove through silk raindrops and I was a whale shark again, pectoral fin browsing slippery sand. And then I was a boy again. Shifting back and forth, down and up: first tail swish, long and smooth and elegant like a shark but not a shark, then boy with hands – hands! – digging a mote of water for protection (naturally) around a castle, singing sea-lavender songs. As a whale shark, I dreamed the boy, and as a boy, I dreamed the whale shark. And so on. Blueblack of ocean to blackblue of sky. Down and back up. Swimming laddering lunging climbing.

I can be anything in my dreams.

I open my mouth and swallow the stars.

About the Author

m-elvyA writer and manuscript editor based in New Zealand, Michelle Elvy edits at Flash Frontier: An Adventure in Short Fiction and Blue Five Notebook. She is chair of NZ’s National Flash Fiction Day and Assistant Editor of the critically acclaimed Best Small Fictions series. This year, she is assembling an anthology of New Zealand flash, with Frankie McMillan and James Norcliffe. Currently in East Africa, Michelle is writing two collections, one essay and one flash, inspired by the extraordinary animal life she’s encountered during her travels aboard her sailboat, Momo. ‘Whale Shark’ is from those new stories. Read more at michelleelvy.com and svmomo.blogspot.com.

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