Pineapple rolled over and groaned. "It cannot be 6:29 yet. It can't be!"
"Ah! Crazy alarm clock!" Pineapple screamed as he hit the clock. He yanked the sheet off himself and threw it onto the pebbled floor in his room. He reached the door, but before leaving his room realized he hadn't folded his sheet. Pineapple turned, swam over to the crumpled sheet lying on the floor, folded it nicely, then turned and left his room.
"Good morning, Mother," Pineapple chirped as he entered the kitchen.
"Hello, sleep well?" she replied.
"Of course." Pineapple watched his mother place three mollusks on the table in front of him. He loudly started crunching on them.
"Pineapple! Quietly!" Pineapple's mother started on her own mollusks, quietly.
"Sorry, Mother," Pineapple replied, silencing his eating.
Pineapple was just starting on his third mollusk when his mother screamed. "Pineapple! The time! Look at the time! How will we ever catch up?" Pineapple, looking at the clock, noticed it was 6:37, one minute late. "Hurry, Pineapple! You need to gain one minute back!"
Pineapple sighed, stuffed the rest of the mollusk into his mouth, and swam down the hall back to his room. He grabbed his backpack which he placed in the living room. He then swam to the bathroom where he brushed his teeth, and then puffed up and brushed his spikes.
When he finished, he swam into the living room to his backpack and was about to walk out the door when his mother screamed, "Pineapple! Don't leave! Not yet! You need to wait one more minute!" Pineapple sighed and sat down on the large arm chair.
He glanced around their living room. A basic rug sat in the middle of the floor between the arm chair and airplace. The crimson bricks around the airplace shone from the cleaning his mother did the day before. Pineapple recalled a traveling storyteller once claiming it resembled a "human" fireplace, whatever that is. The air shimmered inside the air bubble as it hovered slightly above the brick floor in the airplace.
Pineapple started thinking. Wait one minute now. Speed up later. Slow down then. Hurry up soon. My life is so confusing... Why does everything need to be perfect? Couldn't it be creative to do things at different times each day? What is the big, wild ocean like? Do they have strict times out there, too?
"Pineapple! Now you're late! Hurry!" Pineapple jumped out of his thoughts, grabbed his backpack, almost hit into his mother, and sped out the tunnel to the reef.
Eventually he came to a fork in the swimming path. One way led to his school, the other to the big, wild ocean. For the first time in his life, he actually seriously debated about turning down the ocean path.
No, he thought, I can't. Mother will be upset, and it's a dangerous place. Everyone has always told me it's a dangerous place. Scary and dangerous.
He started down the school path.
My life. It's so strict. I could just swim away, and it would take several hours before anyone would notice I'm missing.
He turned around and cautiously swam down the ocean path.
Eventually he came to a four way, large path with two lanes going to the right and two to the left. Pineapple looked both ways. All the fish were swimming like there was a Maraquan Grarrl on their tails, so incredibly fast.
Then suddenly, while he was still staring at all the fast fish, he heard a shriek. All the fish seemed to pause, to look around. He heard another scream. This time he understood what it said. Grarrl. He froze, wondering what to do, and then in the blink of an eye, the fish were gone, all of them, hidden around the surrounding plants and boulders.
He was about to start swimming towards the boulders with the other fish, but paused when he heard a horribly raspy voice, "Hello."
Pineapple froze. He slowly turned around, afraid of who the voice belonged to.
The dreaded Maraquan Grarrl hovered only about a tail's length away from Pineapple. He was a large Grarrl, about three times as big as Pineapple, grayish in color.
The Grarrl spoke again. "Who are you?"
Pineapple paused for a few moments, until he gathered his courage to say, "Pineapple."
The Grarrl stared.
"I am Pineapple the Maraquan Meerca," Pineapple repeated, gaining confidence.
"Ah," the Grarrl mumbled thoughtfully.
"What's your name?" Pineapple asked the Grarrl.
"Uhm. Frank," the Grarrl claimed, although Pineapple could see he wasn't thinking much about it. "Why are you named Pineapple?" Frank questioned Pineapple.
"My mother says a pineapple is some sort of food above seas, on the land above us," Pineapple said confidently. "She told me it's yellow and prickly, which I am."
"Yellow, I can see. Prickly? I can't see. You look nice and smooth and edible to me," Frank sneered.
"True, although I suppose you haven't met many other Maraquan Meercas, am I right?"
Frank opened his mouth to reply, but paused. "Well..." Frank looked around. "I don't see any other fish of your type swimming around," Frank seemed to be losing his confidence.
"That would be because most of us live on the reef. That way we have places to hide when predators come after us." Pineapple looked around, feeling pretty courageous. "So, you still don't understand why I'm named Pineapple, correct?"
Frank sighed in agreement.
Pineapple opened his mouth to speak yet again, but Frank was quicker.
Only instead of opening his mouth to speak, he opened it and swam after Pineapple.
In a moment Pineapple was a prickly ball of air and fish, but it was too late. Pineapple was already inside Frank's mouth.
Frank shrieked, spitting Pineapple out of his mouth with loads of force. "What was that?!" Frank screamed.
"You had the delight of experiencing my prickles, Frank," Pineapple announced proudly.
Frank stood suspended in the water, staring at Pineapple, trying to figure out how it was possible for something to look so smooth but feel so prickly.
"But how?" Frank asked Pineapple.
"Watch," Pineapple said proudly, puffing up in a prickly mass again. Frank stopped fanning his fins and slowly sank to the sand.
"So really, you can't be food, correct?"
"Correct," Pineapple told Frank.
"Ah," Frank said, rising from the sand.
"So, I will be on my way now, Frank. I hope you have a wonderful rest of your life."
"You're leaving?" Frank almost sobbed.
"Well, yeah, I am on a grand adventure away from home," Pineapple told Frank smugly.
"Oh really? What kind of stuff will you do on this adventure?"
"All sorts of things. Anything fun and exciting," Pineapple announced, turning from Frank to start on his way again.
"Would you be willing to take along a to-be friend?"
Pineapple froze, turned around and stared at Frank. "A to-be friend? Like who?" Pineapple looked around anxiously, but only saw Frank a tail's length away.
"Like. Like, maybe me," Frank announced quietly.
Pineapple swam around Frank's body, inspecting him. "Well, I don't see why not. You may come in handy," Pineapple finally concluded.
"Really, really? Wow! Thanks so much, Pineapple!" Pineapple turned and started on his way again, this time with Frank right by his side.
Pineapple and Frank spent the night at Fishy Haven, a nice large reef protected from predators and the such.
The next day, they set out again. They didn't go far before they found an odd, colorful ball bouncing atop the water.
"Pineapple! What could that be?"
"Oh! It's a... a... hmm..." Pineapple replied, confused. "Maybe some sort of a big, colorful fish!"
"Let's find out!" Frank decided swimming to the water's surface. He slapped the weird ball with his tail which bobbed underwater then spat back up and started floating on the water again. "Hmm. Or not," Frank sighed.
"Oh, come on! We can get that ball underwater. It can't be attached to the surface!" Pineapple said, swimming up to Frank. Pineapple tapped the ball with his fin, but it barely moved. Without warning, Frank swam back to the ball and slapped it with his tail, sending the ball towards Pineapple. Pineapple puffed up into a prickly mass, hitting the ball. Both of them heard an odd popping noise, and then the ball was getting smaller and smaller.
"Uh oh. What did we do?" Frank almost whispered.
"I... I... I don't know," Pineapple whispered back. Then Frank swam up to the ball yet again, tapping it with his own fin. It slid away slowly. "Oh, cool, Frank!" Pineapple cheered.
"Thank you," Frank said, tapping the ball yet again, but with more force. It moved away quicker.
Eventually he threw it to Pineapple, who puffed up and hit the ball back to Frank.
"Nice pass!" Frank cheered, but the he realized something. The blob was less than half the size it was when they discovered it.
They stared at it for a few moments, until it was nothing more than a gloomy, crumbled ball of colors.
Frank sniffed. Pineapple bounced in the water and stared at Frank. "Sharks cry?" he asked, shocked.
Frank sniffed again, replying, "I guess so. Or, at least now they do."
Pineapple and Frank set off again, coming across many other interesting fish and items. Some dangerous, some gentle. Some dull, some exciting.
One their third day of their adventure, Pineapple started feeling homesick. "Frank, where did you live before meeting me?" he questioned Frank.
"Live? Oh. Places. Anywhere food was, mostly. Why?"
"Just... wondering. I'm starting to miss my parents and safe home. I never feel very safe sleeping in random places. Sometimes you're the only person I know. I'm not used to that."
"You know I've always wanted to meet your parents," Frank said, smiling.
Pineapple nodded, and they headed back to his house.
On the way back they told each other stories. They reviewed the adventures they had shared together, never forgetting the shocking fish or objects.
When they finally could see Pineapple's home tunnel in the distance through the reef, Frank stopped advancing.
"What's the matter, Frank?" Pineapple questioned him.
"Look at me." Frank looked down at his own body. "I'm a Grarrl. If I get any closer, everyone will run and scream. Just like they did when I met you."
"Not if I'm with you. Come on," Pineapple encouraged, grabbing Frank's fin.
Together, they started to the town. Pineapple was sure to keep a hold of Frank's fin the whole time, to show he was a vegetarian Grarrl.
Several times fish glanced at Frank and swam into their homes, but none screamed or acted too frightened. Eventually, Pineapple and Frank made it to Pineapple's past home.
They cautiously swam through the tunnel and into the living room. "Mother?" Pineapple called quietly. There was no answer. Instead, Pineapple's large mother came blundering from the kitchen to the living room. "Pineapple! Where have you been? I've missed you so much!" she sobbed, grabbing him into her arms.
"I'm fine, Mother, really," Pineapple replied. He was about to introduce her to Frank when she noticed him hiding in the corner.
"Pineapple! Grarrl! You must puff up! Quickly!" she franticly screamed.
"Mother!" Pineapple called back to her, as she was swimming in frantic circles. "He's with me! A friend I met along my adventures!" he announced, grabbing her fin.
Pineapple's mother froze. "Oh." Although she crowded into the corner.
"Mother, really, he's a wonderful Grarrl. And his name's Frank," Pineapple announced proudly.
"Yep, yep. Frank," Frank agreed. Pineapple's mother only semi-nodded, but slowly came out of the corner.
"And I'm hoping he can stay and sleep in the extra office next to my room."
"Well, dinner's almost ready, and if Frank's going to stay, he must learn some table manners, so please go wash your fins and meet in the dining room," she announced as she turned and returned to the kitchen.
Pineapple and Frank turned to each other, grinning, proud of their adventures, courage, and new friendship.