DISC: I DO NOT own any of the chars from the movie Dolphin Tale. They belong to their respective creators. I do however own anyone you don't recognize!
"A Bright and Wintery Future"
Twenty-five-year-old Hazel Nelson smiled as she gazed out at the sun that had just risen. She couldn't have asked for a better life. She and her husband had been happily married for the past seven years now. She couldn't have asked for a better husband and best friend. And as though that weren't enough, God had blessed them with a first child only two years after they had been wed.
Phoebe was a true delight in their lives and she brought joy to them every day. She was a sweet loving kid who loved spending time with her family and friends. She especially loved spending time with winter.
Hazel's grin grew as she thought of her little girl. She couldn't believe that Phoebe was almost five-years-old. It felt like just yesterday that God had sent her down to them from Heaven.
They had named her after winter's trainer and their good friend, Phoebe Johnson, who had done a lot for them and for winter.
Phoebe had since moved away to work in California, but they saw her from time to time.
Paige, winter's new trainer since seven years ago was an awesome person who truly loved the sweet and spunky dolphin as much as Hazel and her family did.
Paige would often bring her own little girl, Sophie, to see winter on days she had off from daycare. She and Phoebe were also best friends.
Sophie even called Hazel 'Aunt Hazel and Phoebe did likewise with Paige.
Three years after Phoebe was born, God had blessed the couple yet again with another child, a son this time. They had named the boy Daniel Kyle, in honor of Sawyer's cousin who was now retired and volunteering at a marine rescue facility not too far away from Hazel and Sawyer's place of employment.
You guessed it. As if Hazel and Sawyer hadn't spend enough time at the Clear Water Marine aquarium when they were younger, they had ended up taking jobs there as soon as they were old enough. Hazel, taking over for her father, Clay while Sawyer became a trainer.
Even though he worked primarily with new sick and injured dolphins, he made time to spend with his favorite one of all. While it was no secret that he loved Winter best of all, he did treat all of them equally or he tried to at least.
Hazel's reminiscing was interrupted by the sound of a door opening and the sound of small feet running towards her.
Smiling, Hazel turned and knelt down in time to catch the little girl in her arms.
"Phoebe!" she greeted her, kissing her cheek, "how are you, huh?"
"Good!" Phoebe replied, kissing her back.
"What do you wanna do today?" Hazel asked.
Without missing a beat, the five-year-old proclaimed, "I wanna go play with Winter!"
"You do, huh?" Hazel asked, tickling her tummy.
"Yes! Mama, stop!" Phoebe said through giggles.
"Okay," Hazel agreed after a minute or so, "is Daddy awake yet?"
The little girl shook her head.
"Why don't we get you ready and then we can go see Winter and who else?" Hazel questioned, hoisting the youngster into her arms.
"Auntie Paige!" Phoebe exclaimed.
"That's right," Hazel said, carrying the little girl into the house.
"Mommy?" she questioned as they entered the kitchen.
"Yeah, Phoebs?" Hazel replied, setting her down at her place at the table.
"May I have cereal, please?" she asked, flashing her mother one of her famous smiles.
"You sure may," Hazel replied, "what nice words. What kind of juice would you like?"
Phoebe thought for a second before making her decision.
"May I have apple, please, Mama?"
"You got it, Phoebs," Hazel said, flashing her a smile.
Once she had gotten both of their breakfasts, Hazel sat down with her eldest and the two started to eat.
It wasn't long before Sawyer joined them. He gave Hazel a kiss on the cheek before ruffling Phoebe's hair and getting himself a cup of coffee.
"Someone's raring to see Winter," Hazel informed her husband.
"Oh and who might this someone be?" he asked, winking at his wife.
"Meme!" Phoebe answered, smiling from ear to ear.
"Let's see what we can do about that," he said, patting Phoebe's right shoulder.
Dad said he could watch Danny today," Hazel said, taking her cereal bowl to the sink, along with her cup.
"Awesome, " Sawyer replied, "we'll pick him up after lunch and maybe we'll take the kids to the park."
Hazel nodded in agreement as she started getting things together to make an egg and toast for her husband.
Hazel grinned when she caught sight of Paige Burke at the entrance to Winter's pool.
"Hey, Paige!" Hazel called.
"Aloha!" Paige greeted back.
"Auntie Paige! Auntie Paige!" Phoebe said excitedly while trying to use her indoor voice. She didn't want to scare Winter.
"Hey, sweetie!" Paige replied, taking the little girl into her arms.
"Phoebs has been bouncing off the walls to see Winter," Hazel told her friend.
"Well, she's excited to see you too," Paige told her niece, "would you like to help me feed her?"
"Uh-huh!" the little girl agreed.
As though hearing her name, Winter popped her head out of the water and swam over to them. She made her signature 'tweedy bird noise the minute she saw Sawyer enter the area.
"Hey, girl," Hazle greeted, reaching out to pat Winter's forehead.
Winter clicked at Hazel before making the 'tweedy bird noise again.
"Hey, Winter!" Sawyer greeted his best friend, "are you ready to play with Phoebe?"
Winter tweeted at Sawyer in response before making another contented noise she reserved for Phoebe.
"Okay, sweetheart, are you ready?" Paige asked, setting the little girl down upon the ground.
Phoebe nodded eagerly.
"All right, let's get you in there," Hazel said, taking her daughter's right hand in hers.
Phoebe went with her mother into the pool, smiling all the while.
"Go slowly," Hazel cautioned her daughter.
"I know, Mama," Phoebe said.
After watching to make sure her daughter would do as she was told, Hazel turned her attention to Paige.
"So how's Panama?" she asked.
"Not good, " she replied, "your Dad came to check on her today and said he doesn't think she has long."
Hazel nodded. Her attention was diverted for a second when she heard Phoebe's happy squeals from right behind her. She whirled around to see Phoebe kneeling in the pool.
"Phoebe, watch…" Hazel tried to warn, but it was too late. Before she could pull her back, Winter had splashed her from head to toe.
Paige was about to scold the still playful dolphin, but stopped when she heard Phoebe giggling up a storm.
"Again, Mama, again!" the little girl insisted in a loud whisper.
"You liked that, huh?" Hazel asked, giving her a one armed hug.
Phoebe nodded vigorously.
Winter made a noise that signaled she had liked it too.
"You two are too much," Hazel said with a laugh.
"Are you ready to play with Winter?" Paige asked, coming over to join them.
"Yes!" Phoebe cheered.
"Okay, let's get you two started with something easy," her aunt began, smiling at both of them.
Hazel kissed Phoebe's cheek ,reminded her to listen to Paige and went to watch from the sidelines. She was more than comfortable with Phoebe in Paige's care as well as Winter's.
"Okay, Winter, you know what to do," Paige said, smiling lovingly at the marine mammal.
Winter obliged and allowed Paige to put her tail on. She took a second to get used to it, but was fine after that.
"Good girl, Winter, good girl, " Paige praised. She turned to her niece then, "all right, kiddo, ready?"
"Do I have to, Auntie Paige?" she asked.
Rather than state the obvious, Paige tried another tactic with the little girl.
As though reading her mind, Winter decided to try and get Phoebe to play with her. She started by doing some tricks she knew the little girl liked. She flipped over showing Phoebe her tail.
"See?" Paige said, putting an arm around the little girl, "Winter's ready to play. She wants you to play with her. Don't you wanna play with her?"
Yes," the little girl said softly.
"Well you have to put your braces on."
Phoebe thought about this for a few minutes before slowly nodding her compliance.
"Thatta girl," Paige praised, "come on. Once you're ready, you can get into the pool with Winter."
"Okay," she said. She allowed her aunt to help her over to the side of the pool.
Once both braces were on, Paige lowered the little girl into the water alongside her best friend.
"Okay, girls, let's see what you got, " Paige encouraged. Sensing Phoebe wasn't quite ready yet, she started with Winter. She gave Winter a signal and the dolphin came over immediately.
"Okay, Winter, ready?" Paige asked.
Winter squeaked before squirting her with water.
"All right, girl, tail up, tail down, tail up, tail down…" Paige instructed kindly.
Winter obeyed almost immediately.
"Okay, come on, Phoebes, ready?"
Phoebe watched Winter for a few minutes before nodding.
Okay, I want you to do what Winter's doing, " her aunt instructed.
Phoebe giggled, which was a welcome sound to both her aunt and mother.
"Auntie Paige, I don't have a tail!"
"I know, kiddo," Paige said, laughing herself, "but you can still copy Winter. I want you to hold onto the side of the pool and raise one leg out of the water. Then bring it down and do it again with the other."
"Okay," Phoebe took a deep breath before doing what her aunt instructed. To her surprise, Winter started copying her actions.
"Good girl, Winter, good girl!" Paige praised when she saw what the young dolphin was doing.
It took a few minutes, but Phoebe finally started to join in. She became less afraid as the session continued. Before she knew it, Paige was helping her out of the braces and putting her back into the pool for some free play with Winter.
Winter knew what this meant and started getting excited. She started swimming circles around Phoebe before nudging her gently with her nose and showing her her dorsal fin to hold on to.
"Do you wanna go for a ride?" Paige asked.
"Okay," Phoebe said eagerly.
"Just hold on gently and Winter will do the rest," her aunt told her.
Phoebe obeyed and started giggling as her best friend taxied her around the pool.
Once the ride was over, the two played water games for a while.
"Winter, look!" Phoebe coaxed, holding out one of her favorite toys. "Do you want the duck?"
Hazel grinned as she started having flashbacks of what Winter had done to Sawyer the first time he had tried to offer her the same toy.
Phoebe made sure Winter could see it before extending the toy out to her.
Winter took it in her mouth before gently pulling it out of the little girl's grip.
"Winter…" Paige warned, but stopped when she realized what she was doing.
Phoebe soon found herself back in the water again. Once she had grabbed onto Winter's fin again, she was taken on another ride.
"Good girl, Winter!" Paige praised once the ride was over.
"All right, Phoebs, it's time for lunch, " Hazel announced, coming over and extending her hand out.
"Okay, Mama," Phoebe resigned. She was about to get out when she felt Winter push her back a little.
"I don't think Winter wants Phoebe to leave," Paige observed with a small smile.
Hazel nodded in agreement.
"I'll be right back," she told her friend. With that, she left to get Sawyer. She knew if anyone could get Winter to cooperate, it was him…