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[Fiction] Dolphin Lovers

 by Joanna Szeto


Tiffany had thousands of dolphins in her room. She knows, she’s counted them. She had wall to wall posters of dolphins all around her room, and even on the ceiling.  Tiffany counted all the dolphins every night to fall asleep.

Tiffany loved dolphins so much that on her birthday Tiffany’s friends gave her a dolphin shaped cake. Another year, dolphin themed jewelry. Sophia gave her a sapphire dolphin necklace with matching earrings, while Biyao gave her a silver dolphin hairpin for her hair. And to top that, this year they booked a trip to Japan, since she had already been to all the Hawaiian dolphin tours and excursions. They booked it for “Miracle Island,” an island located more than a hundred miles south of Tokyo and supposedly the world’s best place to see and swim with wild dolphins.

The boat trip to Mikurajima Island was spectacular. A pod of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins accompanied the boat to the island. Sophia and Biyao had to hold Tiffany back to prevent her from jumping off the boat to join her favorite creatures. 

Tiffany’s best friends watched in awe as thousands of dolphins leapt into the air as their boat was surrounded by the playful creatures.

“Look at their friendly smiles,” said Biyao. “They are so cute!”

 “I love them now, too,” said Sophia.


“Me too,” agreed Biyao.

“I always told you dolphins are the best!” said Tiffany.  “Welcome to the dolphin lovers club.”

“We should go to Florida next,” said Sophia. “I heard there are lots of dolphins there, too.”

“We should see them everywhere,” Biyao commented.

As the friends were walking towards the beach, they noticed a sign for the grand opening of a brand-new restaurant named  “Dolphin Lovers”.  They all walked up to read the menu.

“We have to get prepared for the grand opening ceremony,” said Tiffany.

After noticing what was on the dinner menu, Biyao and Sophia first talked amongst themselves, but finally agreed to come too.

“We’re with you,” said Biyao.

“I’ll get the supplies,” said Sophia.

“We’ll meet back here at dinnertime,” said Tiffany, already imagining the magical time at Dolphin Lovers, with the newest members of the dolphin lovers club.

Tiffany arrived late at the grand opening ceremony. It didn’t help that the streets were filled with protestors waving protest signs, delaying her further. She got out of the cab early and pushed her way toward the front of the crowd, which were heaviest right at the ornate doors of the restaurant.

“Save the dolphins!” someone yelled.

“Friends, not food,” yelled someone else.

“Dolphin lovers protect dolphins!” yelled a familiar voice.

Tiffany turned around at the familiarity of the voice.  It was Sophia. Biyao was right beside her waiving a giant sign that read “Protect Our Dolphins!”

“What are you doing?” Tiffany asked, stunned at her friend’s behavior.

“We’re protesting,” said Biyao matter of factly.  “What are you doing?” she asked scanning Tiffany’s beautiful sequined gown up and down in disgust.   

“You’re not here to protest with us?” asked Sophia confused.

“Of course not,” said Tiffany dismissively, as the crowd screamed louder for the filming news crew who had just arrived and were filming everything, especially the police trying to move the protestors off the street.

“I guess you never know someone. I thought you were a dolphin lover,” said Biyao.

“How can you say that? I am! I love dolphins!” said Tiffany, “You are only here because of me!” 

“Then why are you eating at a restaurant that serves them?” asked Sophia.

Tiffany felt conflicted. How could she get them to understand?

“You love fish,” said Tiffany.  “You still eat them.”

“But that’s different,” said Biyao.

“Hypocrite,” Tiffany shot back.

Sophia grabbed Tiffany’s arm, but she shook it off and walked inside the restaurant amidst the clamor of the crowd.

“If you go in, don’t bother coming back to the hotel!” Biyao yelled, getting in a few last words before Tiffany disappeared inside.





The next morning Tiffany arrived at the airport, late, exhausted and still flustered from the night before. Sophia and Biyao stood in the screening line with Tiffany’s suitcase in tow. She knew she looked odd in her gown but strutted up to her friends anyway. No one spoke. Biyao just pushed the roller bag toward Tiffany as the line began to move. It was clear that this would be how the journey home would be and Tiffany was fine with that until Tiffany was stopped at the gate.


“What’s going on?” Sophia asked the security officer.  

“Leave her,” Biyao commented.


“Your friend has a slight fever,” said the security screener, holding up the thermal scanner.

“I feel fine,” Tiffany claimed, trying to convince the guard to let her through.

“You can’t go through. You two can, but not her,” the security guard repeated.

Tiffany stared in amazement as Biyao dragged Sophia away to board their waiting plane.

How could they just leave her? This was her birthday trip after all. And after everything she had done to get here on time, including leaving the hospital early to make it here on time.

At dinner, Tiffany had eaten to her heart’s content so it was unsurprising that on the cab ride back to the hotel, Tiffany began to feel nauseous. But the nausea kept getting increasingly worse with every start and stop of traffic until she threw up in the cab’s backseat.

“Something’s wrong with me,” she told the cab driver, and forced him to take a detour to the hospital as she began feeling numb on the left side of her body, experiencing tremors, and seeing double.

At the hospital, Tiffany was treated right away. Her memory was confused and fuzzy. She couldn’t remember what they had given her, only that it had begun to work. She drifted into a fitful sleep, dreaming about dolphins and Miracle Island.

In the morning, Tiffany felt almost back to normal, and her lab work confirmed it.

“It’s good that you came in so early,” the doctor said, preoccupied with reading the report. “A little bit later and you wouldn’t have made it.”

“But I don’t understand. What’s wrong with me?” asked Tiffany.

“You’ve got Mercona,” said the doctor unsympathetically, flipping the pages back and forth.

“I’ve heard of Flurona,” said Tiffany, “but what’s Mercona?”

The doctor snorted and chuckled. “That’s because you’re the first case of it. At least the first case I’ve ever heard of. You’ve got mercury poisoning combined with coronavirus.”

“Mercury poisoning?” asked Tiffany.  “I don’t understand. How did I get that?”

“The most common way is through ingestion. Have you had any large fish lately?” asked the doctor, still flipping through the notes in the chart.

“I don’t think so…” Tiffany began, but stopped with a bout of coughing.

The doctor finally looked up at Tiffany and gasped in recognition. “I know you. I saw you on the news last night. You’re the one who ate at that dolphin restaurant.”  He tapped his “Protect our Dolphins” pin and walked out. That’s when Tiffany got dressed and walked out too.



Joanna Szeto is a teacher, mother, and writer. She writes in English and Chinese. She has four Chinese books published on and one story published on enjoys painting murals and watching Chinese dramas.


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