I promised the 52-hertz whale that the world was ready for him. We just had to make some changes. I promised him that “the loneliest whale in the world” was only lonely for so long because he had one song and it didn’t even chart on Billboard. We started with the classics: Aretha, Amy, Selena, Whitney, Freddy, Celine, Elton. Karen Carpenter. Frank Sinatra. Not Adele (no offense to Adele). I ping-ponged air between my vocal folds like his so we could sing in harmony but neither of us quite got it. “No worries,” I sang at him. “There are other ways to find love.”
The loneliest whale in the world was only lonely for so long because he did not have a good agent. I burned all my bridges in the New York scene but found someone’s assistant’s assistant in Ottawa who was willing to take him on as a client. I ferried messages from ocean to shore and even though we booked all the dailies and even Good Morning America, I was getting tired from all the swimming. I told the 52-hertz whale that I believed in him, but sacrifices had to be made. Did he trust me? I burned my home, sold my clothing, and settled into my new home on the underside of the 52-hertz whale. I fielded calls night and day because he had no hands to use a phone, but I was no longer as tired. And he sung me to sleep every night and awake every morning. And I had promised.
The assistant’s assistant in Ottawa had never booked Good Morning America before. This was his breakout or breakup moment with agenting, and so when the scuba-geared hosts of Good Morning America were diving to the home of the loneliest whale in the world, he could not stop looking at his phone. He had set his ringtone to the only sound he found worthy of such a moment. A classic. A song his mother had sung to him way back in the days of his mother being alive. The host asked her question. “What does it feel like to be the loneliest whale in the world?” The assistant’s assistant held his breath. “Well,” the 52-hertz whale sang. “I’ve never been lonely. Not once. I’m not sure why everyone thinks that of me.” Nobody had much to say after that so “the loneliest whale in the world” swam away, and the man in Ottawa kept waiting for a song his phone would never sing.
Matthew Mastricova is a teacher and writer in New York. Their work has appeared in Foglifter, Gulf Coast, Passages North, The Offing, and elsewhere.