Nine days of pure happiness. This is what 13 year old Ryan Kowalski was thinking on the plane ride from Vancouver to Maui. He disembarked from the West Jet 747 and instantly felt the heat. The hot wind tugged the very fabric of the sweater he was wearing like a person was blocking his way. One second he would push you forward and the next push you back. Perhaps it was the endless twizzlers he had consumed, or the thick, rich smell of the ocean, but Ryan felt an intoxicating excitement. He was ready for the five-star Fairmont.
The Fairmont was a resort with two pools, a beach, four restaurants, a 6 km walking trail and beautiful spacious rooms.
He woke to his father brewing coffee. No matter where they went, if his father was there, waking up to freshly brewed coffee followed.
“What’s the plan” asked Robert. This was abnormal for usually the excited one was Ryan. But this was no normal situation. They were in Hawaii.
“Well, I think we should check out the restaurants for breakfast.”
They left without their stepmom, Sarah, whom they addressed as “Khalto” meaning “mother who did not give birth”. She was a peculiar character; whatever you said around her must be guarded, for she was ready to jump on anything that may be offensive. At times she seemed hypocritical, but what and Ryan and Robert didn’t know was that it was quite difficult to be a mom and she was trying. She was hard working person but complained often.
At breakfast a buffet was served. There was stuff you’d expect to see there, like eggs and hashbrowns and toast, but, there were also things you wouldn’t expect. There
was one fruit in particular that captivated the attention of all three of them; it was odd looking, purple in colour with prickly spikes.
“Dad,” said Ryan in his questioning voice, “What are these things?”
“Do I look Hawaiian,” answered his dad with a sarcastic smirk. His dad, Harold, enjoyed humour and found it at every opportunity possible, often bugging them to death with his songs or jokes that no one else laughed at. As it turns out, the spikes were actually soft to the touch and caused no harm. Also, the fruit tasted like grapes.
After breakfast the brothers went to beach and the pool and lazed around with their pina coladas. There was a basketball net in the pool and they quickly learnt to dunk.
For dinner that night, they ate at a Mediterranean place called, “Pita Paradise”. They all had fish, which, to their amazement, was freshly caught that day.
Each day they made a habit of frequent visits to the ocean. One fateful day, the water had been particularly rough, and as a consequence, caused what was about to happen. Throughout the days that the family spent in Hawaii, there had been several sightings of big herds of dolphins. The dolphins were popular among the vacationers due to their friendliness, and had been know to come within a 100 feet of the swimmers.
Ryan was doing one of his favorite things in the ocean that day . . . running up to twenty foot waves and diving under them at the last second. He was making one of his runs with the waves, when a huge wave created a drag effect and pulled him out into
dolphin country. A fin appeared and Ryan curiously reached out to touch it. Have you ever heard the expression, “Never judge a book by its cover?” Well, it applied here. The “dolphin” was actually a shark. This shark was on the brink of death due to a ferocious fight that he presumably lost, and as a result, had become very paranoid and attacked anything in his path.
As he reached out, Ryan noticed that the fin seemed to have a sharper edge, somehow pointier and more menacing than the average dolphin. But this was no dolphin. It was a twelve-foot tiger shark. Ryan felt a surge of fear like he had never felt before. He later described it as a surreal moment where he never felt so alive being so close to death.
The shark jumped up and extended it ferocious jaws, as if he was just showing off rows upon rows of deadly sharp teeth. If it weren’t about to eat him alive, he would have laughed at what seemed like a smile that the shark was attempting. Fearing the worst, Ryan ducked, and the shark sailed over his head. He attempted to paddle, but he was frozen with fear. With nothing left to do but wait for certain death, he braced himself.
Another fin appeared. This one had the likings of an actual dolphin. Then there was another, then another, until he was surrounded in a protective barrier of dolphins. Finally, the fear ebbed and he was slowly escorted to shore.
On the beach, someone noticed the gathering of dolphins so close to shore. They also noticed a boy in the middle of them.
In the next few days, Ryan became a media celebrity and was known as “dolphin boy”. He was interviewed by reporters and made National Headline News. When asked how he felt in the situation, Ryan replied, “I felt amazingly calm once the dolphins showed up. They seemed to know I was in trouble and were there to help.”
It was remarkable how he was able to act as if nothing happened. For the last week of the holiday, the family continued their relaxing routine but Ryan promptly decided to avoid the ocean. He’d had enough excitement for a lifetime.
Keelin Kobaissi is a 13 year old grade 9 student at William McDonald School in Yellowknife. He has been winning writing contests since he was in grade 6 and likes creating creatures in fantasy worlds. His favourite book is “Book Thief” by Markus Zusack.