38: K Strategy

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After an hour and a half without a single find, we continued through the ocean. Not a single one of Robbie's boat friends gave us a lead, and we hadn't found anything by ourselves. There had to be some whales somewhere, but they all seemed to be where we weren't.

Sneaky little weasels.

Nastasya stood up and headed over next to Robbie. As tempting as her seat looked, I didn't want her to get mad at me like she had with Emma.

Emma sat with her legs crossed and without a distraction, and I also didn't want to sit next to her very much. There was something about her that rubbed me the wrong way, but if I wanted to be rightfully labeled as un-sketchy, I just had to deal with it.

"Is this how long it usually takes to find a whale?" Emma asked.

I kept my sigh internal. I was her distraction now.

"Well, it depends. Some days we have really good luck, and other days, we don't find anything. We can't really control it," I replied.

"At least in an office job, there's always something to do, even if it's nothing," she replied, then gave another bray-like laugh.

I didn't know why she thought she was so funny, but I chuckled anyway.

"What's in that case right there?" Emma asked and pointed to the one in my hands.

Dammit, I thought we were done talking.

"It's just a crossbow-type thing for taking blubber samples. I only have a permit to use it in the US, so as long as we're in American waters, I just shoot them, then the sample floats above the water, so we can collect it. We send it back to the Atlantic Coastal College for testing, and then I add the health report to their profile in the database," I replied.

"But doesn't that hurt them?" Emma asked.

"No more than a vaccination," Nastasya jumped in. For some reason, it was a favorite conversation topic of hers.

"Plus, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. It really helps to know what their general health is, so we can remind ourselves just how much we've hurt the precious babies," I added. "It's actually kind of upsetting."

"You seem to really care about this," Emma said.

For once, something smart came out of her mouth. It was a Christmas miracle.

"I really do. I gave up a lot to do this, but I've gained a lot more in the process," I said. "It reminds me that there's a lot more in this world than just me, and that I'm not nearly as horrible of a person as I once thought I was."

She didn't ask me to elaborate, so I didn't. We didn't really need to get to know each other like that, since we would probably never speak again.

At least, I hoped we wouldn't.

When she didn't look to continue our conversation, I headed out to the back of the boat. While there weren't any whales visible, there were plenty of other cetaceans around. A few dolphins swam through the water in the wake behind the boat, and I smiled at them.

"Hi guys. You're all doing great, and I love you," I said, and although they didn't speak English, I was sure they knew that they were, in fact, doing great.

This lifestyle was the one for me, and even though I knew I'd move on to bigger (but not better) things, I already knew that there would always be a knife in my heart. I'd never be this happy again.

The temperature wasn't nearly as warm as a West Virginia August, but I had grown accustomed to the coolness, and shortly, that would turn into a short autumn and a harsh winter. Of course, that meant living inside a classroom once again, but I just couldn't learn like that. There was a large difference between reading and doing, and now that I had gotten my feet wet, how could I ever go back?

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