We found him. Dad. He was exhausted and swimming slowly. I could see that something was wrong. The strange colourful jellyfish that had stuck on Atli’s head were all around.
“Don’t come closer,” he managed to say, his voice desperate, just like when they’d caught Mom.
I didn’t obey.
“Stop, Lupin!” he repeated.
But I couldn’t. I swam over to him and burst into tears. There was a net wrapped around his head, but it wasn’t tightening. The jellyfish had grasped him from his mouth to his eyes. It looked as if he was trying to swallow them, but he couldn’t. Transparent and colourful. They were completely stuck on him.
“Dad, why are the jellyfish doing this?” I sobbed.
Suddenly the grey fish arrived, breathless.
“They’re not jellyfish! They’re not jellyfish!” she cried. “It is from those above the surface. They want to kill us off. The Turtle said we mustn’t eat! Poisonous food, impossible to swallow. It will get you, Mr Lupin. Destroy you from inside. Don’t eat!”
“What are you talking about, fish?” Atli asked in wonder.
I looked at Dad. He tried to open his mouth, but he was completely wrapped up in the net and those colourful things. He just breathed: “I can’t. I can’t ...” And I noticed that he was suffocating and a big piece of rope – the one he had told me to avoid – was sticking out of his mouth.
“Your father inhaled the things that the Turtle spoke about, Mr Lupin. I’ve seen this already. A lot of good fish and Dolphins were looking for dinner, opened their mouths and then only ended up whining in pain.”
Dad looked at me with sad eyes.
“They whined in pain and swam for a while, until they turned their bellies to the surface and the current took them to the mainland. The birds then said that ...“
“Enough, fish!” Atli interrupted her and swam over to Dad as well.
We swam by his side till morning. He was breathing less and less and moving slowly.
“Lupi, my dear son,” he said with his last breath, “be careful... be brave, Lupi ...”
I pressed against him and cried.
“I love you, Lupi. I love ...“
His fin was not moving and Dad stopped speaking. His eyes were looking at me, but I knew that he couldn’t see me anymore.
The current slowly took him away. I didn’t leave him.
I kept repeating: “Thanks for everything, Dad. I’ll be with you.
I’ll be with you, Dad. I love you.”
For many days, I wondered why Dad’s soul had decided to find a new home. He wasn’t a dirty place with dirty water and dead corals.
Nor had he needed to let himself be caught, as he used to say before they had taken Mom.
“Then why is he not here with us?” I asked Atli in tears.
She pressed against me and said nothing.
The surface turned dark and we knew that we only had each other in this vast ocean.