Nameless is so lost.
She doesn’t know how to go, how to leave, how to find her way home. The great expanse she has always known is gone, replaced by a tiny ocean of her own, hemmed in on all sides by rocks-not-rocks that sing her own songs back at her again and again in a taunt of her own voice.
She does not know how she got here. She remembers feeling panic at the great whale that screamed endlessly as it set upon them during her naming hunt, and the strange kelp which caught her and held her.
There are others here, too; Nameless cannot see them but she hears them sometimes through the rocks-not-rocks, their foreign songs filled with madness and rage.
Surrounded by these noisy, incomprehensible, uncaring strangers, Nameless knows the fear of loneliness for the first time in her life. In that loneliness, she calls out, again and again. From within the delicate musical instrument within her head she sings the mothersong of her pod, desperate to hear a response. She has heard the song since birth, sung to her by her mother Two-Spots as she rose to the surface to take her first breath.
Nameless knew the mothersong before she knew the taste of milk or the fluke-touch of her aunts Breaches-at-Dawn and Shark-Biter; before she learned to dive in the wakes of the elders with her nameless cousins. Before her aunts taught her to use her song-sight to tell the difference between fish and squid and shark and sea lion.
Her whole life had been her pod, hunting and playing in the great expanse, linked always by Two-Spots’s mothersong. Nameless longs with a deep terrible urgency to hear it once again.
There is no response, just the painful echoes of her own song bouncing back at her by the rocks-not-rocks. Her ears are delicate things, meant to hear songs over the vast distances of the great expanse, and in the tiny ocean her own voice hurts her so much. It only when she is silent that there is no pain.
But if she does not sing, her pod will never find her.
So she sings, turning and loping and diving within her tiny ocean until she is exhausted, trying to find the mothersong once more.
Come meet Petal, our playful new calf!, the sign read. There was a picture on it of a smiling cartoon orca wearing a necklace of hibiscus flowers. The girl was still learning to read, speaking the words aloud softly to herself, haltingly pronouncing each syllable.
“That’s really good, sweetie,” said the girl’s mother. They watched the tiny orca wheel and dart about in the waters of the tank. The girl pressed her hand to the glass, the surface chilly to her touch. “What’s she doing, mommy?” the girl asked.
“I think she’s playing,” her mother said.
The orca swooped towards the glass, then corkscrewed away at the last minute. The girl laughed. “She looks happy.”
“Yes,” her mother said, “she really does, doesn’t she?”