“Ollie!” Maia screamed, as she quickly chased after him. “Wait! It’ll be okay!”
Ollie, a member of the octopus briareus species, ignored her, rapidly heading toward the cave near the bottom of the coral reef in the bay that he called home. He was done. He was getting his stuff and leaving. His attempts to befriend others of his species always led to bullying and violent attacks. Why did they bully him? Because he was different. Although similar in shape, size, and even level of intelligence, Ollie, unlike other octopi, was sociable.
Octopus, except during times of mating, generally live separate from others. While they may live in the same area, they usually do not even attempt to go near one another. When two octopi do come in contact, it often leads to conflict; a fight ensues resulting in physical harm, even death. This was the life of an octopus and always had been since the beginning of time. Then, Ollie came along. For some reason he was different. He did not fear his kindred. From a young age, he constantly tried to befriend others. When they rejected him, he would flee, but eventually he would try again. For some reason, this feeling deep within him kept prompting him. It was as if his calling in life was to end the division among his kind, to bring them together, to unite them. “But why me?” he would often mumble.
As he entered the cave he currently resided in, he paused. He suddenly realized he had no stuff to get, octopi don’t collect things. He turned to leave. As he exited the cave Maia appeared.
“Ollie, don’t go,” she said as she jetted towards him.
“I have to,” he replied. “This is not the place for me. I don’t know who I am anymore or what my purpose is. I’m just wasting my time staying here.”
“No, you’re not,” Maia insisted.
“Yes I am. Every time I try to do something it just causes problems.”
“Yes…some problems have occurred, but it’s not your fault. No matter what others say and do, you should not feel ashamed for trying.”
“But, this isn’t who we are!” Ollie shouted. “Octopus are loners. Other than doing that thing that keeps our species in existence, we have no purpose. Most don’t even hang around. Like I said, I’m wasting my time.”
“Ollie,” Maia said as she placed three of her blueish colored arms on his. “No, you’re not. If you were, I would not be here. You have purpose. Through your efforts and caring about others, you are creating change.”
“No, I’m not,” Ollie replied as he turned to head back into the cave.
As Ollie pulled free from her gentle grip, Maia, not sure what else to say, turned her head and at that moment, saw a crowd of others poised watching them. She was so engaged in trying to convince Ollie that what he was doing was right that she didn’t notice the slowly growing crowd of fellow octopi. Ollie, so frustrated and angry also didn’t notice the crowd.
When the crowd saw that Maia had noticed their presence, one of them slowly approached her. She immediately recognized him. It was Ballou; one of the first octopus that Ollie tried to befriend.
“Ollie,” called Ballou. “She is right. Be proud of yourself. Despite what these bullies have said and done, you have created change. You have brought us together. We have not said so because we too fear those that have rejected the change, but it is time we set aside our fear and come together. Please Ollie, don’t go.”
Ollie did not move. He stood in silence, unsure what to say or do. Maia stepped forward and grabbed hold of Ollie with her eight arms and carefully turned him around. “I need you. We need you,” she said as she slowly pushed his head up so he could see the crowd of fellow Octopus that had come together because of his kind words and deeds.
Upon hearing those words and seeing the crowd, Ollie’s brownish colored skin suddenly changed. It now matched Maia’s blueish color. As his changed, so did the color of the skin of all those in the crowd. At that moment, Ollie knew that being different was okay. It was differences, that when used right, can lead to change and bring people together.
The above short story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.
Copyright ©2016 by Joseph Bunch. All rights reserved. No part may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, scanning, uploading, electronic or mechanical, including printing, photocopying, recording, or by any other storage or retrieval system, without the written permission of the author.