A Barnacle’s Tale (A Short Story)

Short Stories and Fables / Saturday, May 13th, 2017

So the story goes that a group of barnacles were clinging to a rock.

All the barnacles were conditioned from a young age to resist the tide. No matter how hard life got, one was never to let go and be swept away.

“Those that get swept away are never seen again!” said a melodramatic barnacle.

Let’s call him Barry.

“But there has to be more to life than clinging to this rock,” said another barnacle. We’ll call her Bev. Her thinking set her apart from the rest. “Day in, day out, all we do is cling. What if there’s more?”

“More?” said Barry. “What do you mean more?”

“Well, suppose all those who have let go and trusted where the tide took them-”

“Now stop that talk about the tide! If the elders hear you they’ll-“

“I wasn’t saying anything bad… I was just going to say, what if those who have let go are not only okay, but are actually having an amazing time? What if they’ve found other rocks?”

“You talk daft!”

“What if they’re doing what every barnacle dreams of?”

“And what exactly might that be?”

“Well… don’t you want to be free?”

“I am free… free to roam on our rock!”

“No, I mean free with the tide; for all the stress and the pressure to vanish.”

“You just need to learn how to cope better.”

Bev stared at Barry, angrily.

“Cope better? And how do you propose I do that?”

“Just… copy me,” said Barry. “You don’t hear me fantasizing about being swept away by the tide.”

“That’s because you’re afraid!”

“Afraid?! I’m not scared to let go! It’s just that we’re not supposed to, that’s all. I prefer to follow the rules, unlike some folk.”

“Haven’t you heard the rumors, though?”

“What, that trusting the tide leads to happiness? Of course I’ve heard them. Everyone has. But I’ve already told you, it means saying goodbye to all that we know.”

“You mean this rock?”

“Yes, I mean this rock. Our rock. We know this rock and it knows us.”

Both of them were quiet for sometime, then Bev said, “You said those who have let go have never been seen again, but there was one, wasn’t there?”

“You mean Crazy Benny? Yeah, okay, good luck trusting him. The tide went to his head.”

“But he said-“

“I know what he said. My grandpa’s told me all about him. He was there, when he came back.”

“Well, wasn’t Benny happy?” said Bev.

“He was as crazy as a crab, my grandpa said. He said Crazy Benny was telling everyone how the tide takes you where you need to go, just as long as you’re willing to let go first. Trust! That’s what he kept on saying. Trust! Trust! Hah! Fool. They pushed him off the rock. They couldn’t stand him talking such nonsense.”

“Maybe that’s why nobody ever comes back, because persuading others to trust the tide, when we’ve been conditioned not to, is pointless.”

“They tell us that stuff for our own good.”

Bev couldn’t fight the impulse to let go. She had to do it.

It was now or never.

“Goodbye, Barry,” she said.

“What?” said Barry, aghast. “NO!”

Bev let go with a smile.

She was never seen again by those on her rock. They mourned her absence – especially Barry, who was the last to see her, and couldn’t help blaming himself. The warnings of the tide were drilled into the young barnacles, with even more severity than before.

Let us turn our attention to Bev, for those remaining on the rock were mourning for themselves.

As she surrendered to the tide, smiling at Barry’s shocked expression, watching it getting smaller and fainter, she was actually becoming clearer and clearer to others she was not yet aware of.

“Who’s this?” she heard, and turned around instantly.

“Hello there, young one!” said a deep, penetrating voice. “Welcome!”

Bev literally could not believe what she was seeing. Barnacles, just like her, were not on rocks, but on a huge whale.

“Park yourself here,” said the barnacle with the deep voice. He seemed to be in charge. “Move up, everyone. Let’s create some space for her.”

Bev was still speechless. Her own imagination could never have conjured up such an experience.

“Well done for letting go and trusting!” said the barnacle in charge. “I’m Benny.”

“You’re Crazy Be-… sorry, I mean, you’re Benny?”

“Guilty. And you are?”


And all of the barnacles, including the whale, all chorused, “Hello, Bev!” Of course, the whale’s voice drowned out the rest.

“Oh, this is Winnie,” said Benny. “As you can see, she’s a whale, and a grand one at that.”

“She doesn’t mind us clinging to her?”

“Mind? It was her idea, wasn’t it Winnie?”

In a slow, operatic sort of voice, Winnie said, “It can be lonely swimming through the world’s oceans, all by oneself.”

And so, legend has it, that Bev went on to see the world.


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