“Happy birthday to me,” Old Crusty hummed the little ditty as he gazed upward with milky eyes that had quit working properly 100 years earlier. At the ripe old age of 393, there was no one left to help him celebrate his birthday. No crab-cakes to share. What was the point of sticking around? Swimming alone. Avoiding the ocean’s surface. He was the leviathan. The one craggy fishermen aspired to catch—but then thanked God that they hadn’t caught—at the end of each day. Campfire stories would be embellished, the one that got away, as long as he was out there. In the deep blue sea, the conquest.
He was lonely. Ready to move on. Even the remoras stopped hanging on him as the end of his life neared. He longed to join his friends in the afterlife. He’d lead a good life, only killing when he needed sustenance to survive, choosing only the fish who were the weaker stragglers. Never forcing his way into the schools or cruising the shallows, invoking fear along shorelines.
Crusty silently sent out the signal, rolling over to float upside down, eyes fixated on the bottom of the sea. It would be a joyful reunion with his friends and family. He would celebrate his birthday and deathday with those he loved. He closed his eyes and waited for Neptune to carry him home.
By Lisa H. Owens
Inspired by an Inner Circle Writers' Group prompt: This is a 393-years old Greenland Shark that was located in the Arctic Ocean. It's been wandering the ocean since 1627. It is the oldest living vertebrate known on the planet.
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