A school of groupers made their home between the seashore and the coral reef.
One day, a baby grouper, named Gillie, said, "Mama, I want to practice swimming and jumping." "That's fine!" Mama replied, "But, be careful. Don't go beyond the coral reef and don't stay out too long." "O.K. Mama", Gillie smiled. "I promise" and he swam away.
It felt good to swim and jump and be free. Gillie flipped high and dove deep and deeper into the ocean.
Suddenly, Gillie saw an object he did not recognize. As he swam toward it, the object slowly moved away. For a while Gillie followed it. Before he knew it, Gillie was beyond the coral reef. He remembered his Mama's words "Don't go beyond the coral reef." "I am only a little beyond the reef," Gillie told himself, "I can find my way back home." Gillie swam farther out to sea. When he looked back he could not see one familiar thing.
He swam to a seaweed. "Please help me. I can't find the coral reef where I live." "I can't help you", replied the seaweed, "I drift with the tide and I don't know where I will go. Maybe the seahorse will help you.
Gillie swam near the top of the water. "Please help me, Mr. Seahorse", he begged, "I want my Mama. Where are the shore and the coral reef?" "I would never go near the shore. The water is too shallow there. Ask someone else to help you", the seahorse answered.
Gillie was about to cry when he saw a lionfish. His mother told him that lionfish frighten and eat other fish. But, Gillie took a chance. "Please help me. I am lost", he gasped. "I don't know how to find the coral reef." The red lionfish licked its lips and said "I swim in deep water only, I can't help you." The red lion fish opened its mouth wide, it was about to swallow Gillie, when a large school of fish caught its eye. The lionfish quickly started to swim after the school of fish. Gillie had never been so frightened in his life. "Mama, I want to come home", he yelled. The lionfish yelled back to Gillie "Ask the whale."
Gillie was tired and scared, when suddenly a huge shadow cast down from above. He had found a whale. "Can you help me find the shore and the coral reef?" Gillie pleaded with the whale. "Come with me and see the ocean, then I will take you back home." "NO, NO, I must find my Mama now", cried Gillie as he swam away.
"What am I going to do?" thought Gillie. He saw a sea turtle that was buried comfortably in the sand. Gillie swam up to the sea turtle and said, "I'm lost and I can't find the shore and the coral reef." "I swim very slowly", said the old sea turtle. "It would take me forever to get to the shore, but the seagull goes that way. Look for his long legs. He will be able to take you home." The old sea turtle was reassuring and Gillie thanked him as he swam away.
"Hope at last", he thought. As he swam away, Gillie realized the ocean waters were growing darker and he knew that he had been gone a long time. He was getting sleepy and he wondered if he would ever see his Mama again. He wondered if his Mama was looking for him. He wished he had listened to her words. Gillie knew he had to get back home and so he kept swimming. Suddenly he heard a voice say, "Didn't your Mama tell you not to swim beyond the coral reef?" Gillie looked up; all he could see were the two long legs of a seagull. "Can you help me?" he cried. "I want to get home to my Mama. I am so tired and hungry. Please help me find the shore and the coral reef." The seagull replied, "That is where I live and I will be glad to show you the way home. Your Mama sent me out searching for you. The whole reef has been looking for you", the seagull scolded. "Swim beside my legs and I will take you home."
Gillie started to recognize his home grounds. He started laughing with joy when he saw the coral reef. When the seagull delivered Gillie to his Mama, he said "Mama, Mama, I got lost, I swam too far. I'm so sorry I did not listen to you." Mama hugged her baby and thanked the seagull for bringing Gillie home safely.
When bedtime came and Gillie's Mama tucked him into his nice warm bed, Gillie promised his Mama he would always listen to her. "Good night, my sweet. Pleasant dreams and I will see you in the morning. I love you with all my heart and soul", said Mama.
To Ryan, my wonderful son, who is my great inspiration.
And to my Mom, Della and my Dad, Edward.
Copyright by Janet Carr, September 25, 1995.
Janet lives in Texas, USA. She has more stories in mind for Gillie.
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