Sunday, July 23, 2000


Daniel sat on his mother’s lap, listening to her read to him.


“Once there was a goldfish…”


And because he was warm, and because he was so comfortable on his mother’s lap, he fell asleep and he dreamed a dream. In his dream he was a shark. A fast, silver shark with very many really sharp teeth. He was not cold, he was quite warm, but he was very lonely. As Daniel the shark swam in his ocean he saw many beautiful fish that looked like they could be good friends but when they saw him they would scream and swim away. Daniel didn’t know that they saw his teeth and thought that he would eat them all up in one big gulp. (Now sharks do eat fish but Daniel the shark was a friendly shark and wouldn’t hurt a fish one little bit, it was his dream after all.)


As he swam he remembered learning in school that sharks travel in groups so he looked around and sure enough he was surrounded by other sharks that were part of his group. They looked hungry. Suddenly he had an idea: If he left his group and swam alone maybe he would meet a fish that wouldn’t be afraid of him. So off he swam deep into the ocean where he hoped to find a friend.


Things weren’t much better this way either. The fish were still scared of him and swam away as soon as they saw his grinning mouth so full of teeth. And now he didn’t even have his mother or father or brother or sister with him. They weren’t the best company but they were better company than water.


Now all the fish books tell us nothing about sharks being able to cry. Daniel, if you ask him, can tell you that they do. He cried great big shark tears. Tears that only a very lonely but very friendly shark could cry. He was happy that none of his family was nearby to hear him as he sobbed since they would have told him that sharks are tough and never, ever cry. But cry he did.


And then it happened. He thought that he heard a cry. Not a shark cry, and certainly not a whale cry, but the tiny little cry of a tiny little fish lost and alone in a very large ocean. He listened. He swam a little way and he listened again. It sounded like the cry was coming from over there by those dark rocks where his father had told him never to swim because it was dangerous. He didn’t want to disobey his father but it did sound like a fish was in trouble and maybe, if he could help the fish, he could make a friend. Besides, Daniel wasn’t really a shark but a little boy sleeping on his mother’s lap, and he was a good boy and always tried to help others. So off he swam to help this little fish in trouble.


When he got to the rocks all he saw was the flashing golden tail of a beautiful goldfish that had got its head stuck in a hole in the rocks. He asked, in his most gentle and friendly voice, what the problem was. The little goldfish answered:


“I was swimming in my school when all of a sudden I saw these rocks and they looked so interesting and I wanted an adventure so much (it is boring being a goldfish all the time you know) that I got all the bravery I could and swam over here. But before I could even begin to explore the rocks one fell down on me and now I’m stuck.”  She began to sob again and was barely able to ask between snuffles:  “Can you help me?”


Now Daniel was a lonely shark but he was also very strong and before he knew it he had moved the rock and helped the little goldfish to safety. The little goldfish tried to say “Thank  you,” but as she said it she saw that Daniel was a shark so what she really said was “Thank…you’re a shark!”   And she started to swim away as fast as she could. But she didn’t get very far before she heard something she had never heard before. She  heard a shark crying. She stopped and turned around and came slowly back to Daniel. “Are you crying,” she asked.


Daniel managed to sob a sad kind of “Yes, I am.”  And the little goldfish, surprised, asked him why. “I’m lonely, and nobody wants to be my friend and I tried to save you so you might not be scared of me and be my friend and I’m really a very nice shark.”  But before he could say it all the little goldfish came close to him and gave him a little fin hug and said:


“I’ll be your friend.”


Daniel stopped crying, “Really,” he asked. He was amazed, for nobody had ever wanted to be his friend before.


“Yes,” said the little goldfish, “my name is Goldie, and you did save my life and you do look like a nice kind of shark, and yes, I would like to be your friend.”


Daniel and Goldie spent the rest of the day swimming around the rocks exploring and having great adventures. At the end of the day Goldie’s school came back looking for her and when she told them all that Daniel the shark had done for her they said “Thank you for saving Goldie’s life, why don’t you come with us and be friends with all of us?”


Daniel said that he would love to and together they swam off toward the bright surface of the ocean, a golden stream of goldfish surrounding a beautiful silver shark. As they got closer and closer to the surface it got brighter and brighter and the sun was becoming more and more warm and suddenly Daniel was no longer a shark but a little boy just waking up from a delicious nap on his mother’s lap on a sunny Sunday afternoon.