1 Alone

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The feeling of being alone has nothing to do with one's surroundings, but with their mind.

When Baby Manatee opened his eyes, he knew immediately he was not where he belonged. It was not that the turquoise color of the water was different. Actually, it made him feel like he was at home. He could not place why he didn't belong. He just knew.

"Mama?" he called.

He was greeted with only the gentle rocking of the waves above him. And it was then he realized why he did not belong. He was alone.

As Baby Manatee swam forward he was confused. "Mama?"

A clownfish flittered by his nose in a blur of orange and white.

"Are you lost?" a voice asked from behind.

The lost manatee turned around slowly, to see a creature that looked a lot like him, except for the fact that the animal was brown, and its tail was triangular in shape rather than rounded. "Are you my mama?" he asked.

The creature shook his head. "No. No, I believe not. I am a Dugong, and you, you are a manatee."

"Where am I?"

"The Indian Ocean."

"Indian...That name doesn't sound familiar."

"I'm sorry, but maybe you could try the Southern Ocean. You may find your mama there."

Baby Manatee was already on his way when he called out a thank you to Mrs. Dugong. After a while he began to grow hungry, and when he saw a patch of bright green sea grass he couldn't resist and swam down for a bite. Before he could snap his teeth a high pitched voice cried, "Watch it, big guy."

Puzzled, Baby Manatee looked closer and saw the green leaves were attached to a yellow clump with a blinking eye. Make that two blinking eyes. "I'm sorry, Mr.-"

"Sea Dragon. But you can call me Leafy."

"I'm very sorry. I did not know you were alive. Umm... I mean...an animal."

"I am very much alive, thank you very much."

Baby Manatee felt very bad. But it wasn't his fault that this Mr. Leafy looked like a juicy piece of sea grass.

"I'm looking for my mama. Mrs. Dugong told me to search the Southern Ocean for her," he explained as Mr. Leafy swam around him in circles, poking Baby Manatee's gray skin with his pointy snout.

"Ahh... yes. Keep going south and you can't miss it."

The poking began to grow uncomfortable, and he continued on his way after thanking the Sea Dragon.


Baby Manatee's eyes were beginning to grow heavy when the water began changing into a darker shade of blue and even with his blubber he was very cold. He knew he would have to rest soon.

The water began swirling around him, and a dark blur kept coming into his eye sight. The blur stopped, taking the shape of a rather fat body with a rather small head. "Hello. Are you lost?"

"Are you my mama?" Even he knew what the answer would be. But, he thought, I at least have to try.

The small head tilted to the side. "No. I'm a Weddell seal, and I believe you are a manatee."

"I'm sorry for asking, Miss Weddell seal."

"Please, call me Barbara."

At least I didn't try to eat her. She seems very nice.

"Do you know where my mama is?"

"Why don't you try the Pacific?"

All he wanted to do was curl up next to his Mama and rest. The Pacific ocean seemed so far away. "Well, thank you for your help, Miss Barbara," he said as he turned away wearily.

"Goodbye, dear." She swam upward toward the ice, causing Baby Manatee to remember how cold it was.

I wonder if my mama is even searching for me? he thought as he rounded the tip of Cape Horn. The water was very choppy, and he was forced to make many detours around many crisp white icebergs that were quite bulky. He sighed as the water grew warmer. He wasn't too fond of the cold. Baby Manatee knew his home was somewhere in the warm waters.

Fish scurried past him, tickling his nose; their colors, bright oranges and pinks, that shimmered in the sparkling sunlight. A deep purple starfish waved to him from below, where it lay spread out on a colorful piece of coral. He nodded to it in return. The little gesture of kindness gave him strength to continue onward.

Slowly the dark blue hue of the water turned lighter. Maybe I could rest here? He closed his eyes, and just as he began to slip away he heard-Scrap. Tap. Tap. Scrap. Tap. Tap.

Annoyed, he opened his eyes to be met with splotches of cinnamon-brown that covered most of the water he could see. When the haziness of sleep wore away, he was able to make out the round bodies of these new animals. Like him, they had flippers, but they looked different then his. They also had a great deal of whiskers. The scariest part about them was the long, pointy tusks coming from their mouths. He watched with interest as the ones below him searched for clams on the gravelly sea floor.

"Are any of you my mama?" his voice quivered, and he ducked his head as each one of these animals stopped what they were doing to stare at him, and him alone.

Now Baby Manatee knew these new comers were not like him, which meant none of them could be his mama, but he couldn't take the chance of just perhaps being wrong and his mama actually being one of them. Deep down inside he knew it was impossible and an absurd idea.

They continued to stare at him, and he thought he couldn't be any more embarrassed.

But he was wrong.

They began laughing at him.

Baby Manatee was mortified and began to turn his body around when one called out, "No. I'd hope not."

"Well, why not?" he asked.

"Because if you don't know the difference between a manatee and a walrus, I gather you aren't very smart. We wouldn't want you to pollute the water with your ignorance."

The other walruses began to laugh again, as Baby Manatees tears mixed with the salt water around him.

Another walrus with great tusks swam toward him. "If you're looking for your mother, you should try the Arctic ocean. I hear your kind likes to migrate up there."

"Really? Oh thank you." And Baby Manatee hurried away from them as fast as his tail could take him, but it wasn't very fast. Because of his slowness the walruses mocked him.

But that wasn't the only thing they committed against him. They had done something that Baby Manatee did not even realize.

They lied to him.

They sent him to the dangerous, icy waters of the Arctic Ocean, sending him farther away from where is mama actually was who was in a panic looking for her baby.

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