The Whale and Her Trainer | Teen Ink

The Whale and Her Trainer

May 12, 2014
By SophiaD11 PLATINUM, Kissimmee, Florida
SophiaD11 PLATINUM, Kissimmee, Florida
23 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Intelligence without ambition is like a bird without wings."-Salvador Dali

Sweat was beading on my forehead, which was screaming its disapproval over my costume. It felt as if red ants had decided to have a civil war on my face. My feet felt dreadfully pinched, like a crab had taken up a permanent residence in my black ballet flats. The Sun’s beams felt like spotlights that caressed my back and face with warmth.

“Stand by the whale honey. You too Rachel, I want to take a picture.” My mom’s voice still rings loud and clear whenever I remember or see a picture of Halloween of ’06. My twin sister, Rachel, wore her hair wound in a loose braid, which I remember always made her hair look like rope to me. When we were younger, and Rachel’s hair was a waterfall of layers and lengths which reached nearly to her butt, I thought of her as a brunette Rapunzel. The borrowed wetsuit which she was wearing, gleaming in spots moist with water or sweat, was basically free advertising for “Discovery Cove,” even though we were attending the Halloween event at its sister amusement park, “SeaWorld.”

Rachel never smiled with her teeth, so as my proud mother snapped a picture of the two of us together in our costumes, her smile was the polar opposite to my almost mischievous one, which showed as much teeth as a zipper. I could tell that Rachel was boiling hot in her light-absorbing, black wetsuit that fit her like a second skin, but our excitement and determination to get candy reigned supreme in the court of comfort that day.

I remember reaching up to run my hands through my hair, out of habit. Except, when I reached my hairline, all I felt was fluffy black and white fur, not my usual frizzy-blonde mop. I remembered in that instance when my mom first came home with what she was going to make my costume out of. She had in her hands, what I thought, was a life-size stuffed animal Orca whale. She then proceeded to gut the stuffed animal, and open up some of its seams. The result was a costume that I will always remember. She created an Orca whale costume that fit me like a coat.

“Does Shamu want a fishy?” Rachel’s teasing voice snapped me out of my reverie as she held a cherry-flavored Swedish Fish above my head. After all, whales eat fish! I smiled at my “trainer” as she reached into her bucket to pull out another “fish” for her “whale” to eat.

My outfit was extremely uncomfortable, considering I had a stuffed animal whale sewn to my back and covering the top portion of my head that was practically the size of me, but I kept it on the entire day, for three main reasons. Number one: There were flippers on my costume that protruded from the sides of the whale. They just happened to fall right behind my arms, and although it sounds silly, it gave me great pleasure back then to maneuver and use the flippers to do tasks throughout the day, like waving or attempting to eat, instead of using my hands. Number two: My mom was my absolute idol, and she had spent hours scouring the internet just looking for the perfect white leotard to accompany my fishy ensemble, not to mention the time she spent actually sewing my costume together. I couldn’t let all that hard work of hers go to waste. Number three: My costume made anyone who wore it stand out in the crowd. Even though it was Halloween, and I should have merely been a needle in a haystack, I was like a horse in a haystack. In a place overpopulated by tourists that practically preach about Shamu, dressing up like him earns you appreciative stares and lots of attention. But not just from visitors, from workers and whale trainers alike. And I’m not going to lie, my seven-year-old self liked attention! I liked it even more than the Swedish fish Rachel kept feeding me.

By the time we finally left, the sun was setting, bleeding pinks and purples into the evening. My tongue matched the sky, and was stained a light pink. However, as we exited the turns dial, (I had some difficulty getting through it, especially when my tail got stuck) a SeaWorld employee snapped a picture of me and Rachel in our unique costumes. We kept walking through the parking lot however, totally oblivious to the costume director behind us. That costume director would then proceed to hang the picture she took of us on the wall of the costume shop. That picture remained there long after my mom acquired a job working at SeaWorld. It would remain there long after my whale costume grew far too small for me to fit my legs in, let alone my whole body. That picture stayed on the wall until the employees had to move to a new costume shop, but even then, the picture moved with them, and is still taped to wall to this very day.

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