A Land Down Under

Deep down in the big blue ocean lived a family of four speckled blue jellyfish. Speckled in pink and yellow dots there was Mammy Derp and Daddy Dandy and their two beloved children Hank and Sally. Dandy had worked hard as a granulist (an analyst of sand granules) for most of his life so as he could rear his family in the upper-middle class seatown of Sandycaverns. Dandy was a dilligent fellow and he bestowed unto his children the secret formula for an easy and joyous life – vegetables, hard graft and study. Derp was an affectionate ladyfish who lived for her children. She made the family meal every day and made sure everybody was clean and healthy before sleep-time each night. Together Derp and Dandy taught their children to be polite, respectful and kind to other fellow fish. Hank was the youngest of the two children and was smart and sometimes talkative although he did also have a quiet side to him. Sally was sweet, adorable and docile albeit somewhat gullible and not so intelligent. Every evening before sleep-time the family would wish each other a “good night” and together they would say aloud the family motto: No Matter How Happy I Was Today, I Will Always Be Happier Tomorrow.

One fine spring evening the family were sat at home awaiting excitedly for Sally to burst in with the results from her jellyshading exams (jellyshading jobs pertain to the style and beauty industry). Hopeful that she’d have passed this time as she had only failed by a marginal result the last time, the family were all set for a celebration. Sally arrived home feeling dull and gloomy and expressed distress at the fact that she had failed yet again. She frowned and moped but not for long as Daddy Dandy was quick to remind her that she could pay the exam fees and take a repeat exam in just two weeks time. Sally had completed a learning course in jellyshading and acquired all the neccesary study materials needed for the exams. Those excruciating exams were all that separated her from a decent job as a jellyshader. However, the exam fees were pricey and seen as Sally didn’t earn much money at her job as a shell scrubber, Dandy would have to pay most of the cost which he was only so glad to do so. On that fine spring evening after Sally had failed her exams for the second time around, the family ate their evening meal as usual. Mammy Derp cooked and cleaned as per usual and the family relaxed and got ready for sleep-time. The day drew to a close with the ritualistic reading of the motto: No Matter How Happy I Was Today, I Will Always Be Happier Tommorow.

Dandy was working long hours in order to save for Hank’s impending third-level expenses and now also to help Sally with her jellyshading fees. Hank was on the cusp of becoming a grown-up and nearing the end of his jellyschool days. His dad held high hopes for him, he revelled in the dreams of his son graduating to fulfill an admirable vocation in the white-collar employment sector. Hank often wondered if he’d truly be happy pursuing a career in the white-collar employment sector. He’d often express the notion that maybe a job in the music industry would bring him joy, but, whenever he would mention this his dad would be quick to remind him that musicians never succeed in life.

Time passed by and Sally went with her savings and her dad’s contribution to the exam centre, paid the fee for the third time, sat her exam and received her result. Failing twice was hard but failing a third time was even more upsetting. Her stomach sank and she went home and told everybody the news that she had come up short by just a marginal result for the third time in a row. Dandy was quick to reassure her that she could go for round four in another two weeks and if she just read her course material one more time she’d be out of the shell scrubbing industry and into the jellyshading business before the arrival of the summer season.

Dandy worked and worked and worked. Derp cleaned and scrubbed and cooked. Hank studied and studied and passed out of school. Sally worked and studied and failed her jellyshading exams for the 7th time. Around the time that Hank received news that he got accepted to study waterology (waterologists used scientific expertise to cleanse dirty water), Derp started reflecting on her own life and the ambitions she once had as a young jellyfish. Derp remembered the days when she aspired to travel the ocean; sing to the whales and surf with the eels. Of course she always knew that a dream is just a dream and that in her day being a mother and a wife was the only viable career choice for any ladyfish, anything else would have resulted in failure and absolute unhappiness. Derp was as good a mother and a wife as could be but she was beginning to wonder if she’d been feeling a tinge of dissatisfaction with her life. She was beginning to wonder what life would be like if she had of made different decisions. As she recalled the credo that guided her own development as a young jellyfish, she was able to put her doubts aside and reassure herself that she had in fact chosen the right path for happiness and joy. She could affirm this as her own parents always insisted that explorers often lead unsettled lives and that a safer more secure life as a wife and mother would be less risky and ultimately more satisfying. Based on the assumption that her parents could never be wrong, Derp dismissed her curiosity of an alternative life and nudged herself to take notice of the fact that everything was perfect and nothing in the world could ever be better.

The perennial clock ticked on as it does and one day Dandy fell ill and wound up in the hospital. The doctor proclaimed that the cause of Dandy’s illness (swollen gonads) was stress related, that Dandy had been working too much and that if he didn’t slow down he would have a heart attack and die. Derp and Sally wondered how this could be, Dandy never showed any signs of stress or unhappiness. After all, it was Dandy who invented the family motto, the motto that reinforced the supposition that everything was as good as can be and that nothing could ever be better. As autumn was falling Dandy was let home from the hospital. Sally needed to sit her jellyshading exams again (for the 11th time!) and Hank’s third-level fees were due. Naturally, Dandy went straight back to work. By this stage, Sally had read all her course material at least ten times but again she came up just shy of a pass by the same marginal result. Little did she know that she was getting the same three exam questions wrong every single time! Sally saved up to take another repeat two weeks later and Dandy set aside another savings basket to contribute as much as he could for her next tenacious attempt.

Now safe in the knowledge that he would one day go on to enjoy a happy and fulfilling life as a successful waterologist, Hank had given up on the silly desire to be a smash hit rock star. He was a little unsure of wheter or not he was actually happy with his life, but, whenever he thought about the unfaltering certainty of his elders, he knew for sure that he was taking the best route that he could for himself and that no alternative could ever result in anything more propitious.

Just as he was arriving home on a cold autumn’s eve, Hank was greeted by a neighbour who informed him that a bunch of his old classmates were headlining an up and coming concert at Oceanrox festival. Hank couldn’t believe it, anybody that headlined Oceanrox had always gone on to make it as a star. A little stunned upon hearing of his ex-classmates’ good fortune in the music business, Hank sauntered on into his home and sat down to his evening meal. For the first time in his life he noticed his family were looking dishevelled. Daddy Dandy was clearly exhausted, Mammy Derp was wearing a pensive expression on her face and Sally was distraught over the fact that she had another repeat exam looming in ahead of her. The family ate and Derp washed and scrubbed everything as per usual. In her state of pensive thought, Derp let her mind wander and she wondered if things could ever be better. As quickly as her mind wandered she stopped it dead in its tracks as she realised it was time to blurt out the family motto. She joined in with her husband and children as they chimed out the words “No Matter How Happy I Am Today, I Will Always Be Happier Tommorow,” and with that utterance she reminded herself that a dream is always just a dream.