Find Your Colors

They say octopuses like me can only live out of water for a few minutes. Ha!

I’m not like the other octopuses.

I live in the Assura Bay Aquarium, where the people are kind and the little kids press their fingers to the glass. Sometimes I’ll put a suction cup or two against their hand and watch as they squeal in delight.

The aquarium caretakers are very good to me. I get plenty of food, and my tank is full of colorful rocks and places to hide. But sometimes it gets boring. I crave adventure.

So every night, I slip out through a gap in the top of my tank and take a midnight stroll through the aquarium. I give myself fifteen minutes. Any longer and my skin starts to dry out and it becomes difficult to make my way back to the safety of my enclosure.

Tonight, I’ve already used up quite a bit of my time. I have about forty-five seconds before I need to return to my tank.

I poke my head up over the rocks near where my friend Aki lives.

“Pst. Aki,” I say. No response. I have excellent vision, but can’t see her in the dark water.

“Aki!” This is odd. Usually, Aki comes over to say hi, but tonight she must be sleeping.

I’m about to leave when I see something strange– flashing light, dim at first, then brighter, pulsating through the glass of Aki’s tank. I immediately get an uneasy feeling. I feel my skin pale in fear. Something isn’t right.

The light is so bright that I have to shut my eyes. I can still feel the strobing brilliance through my tentacles. My body inches away from the tank. Then, as suddenly as it started, the bright light stops and I open my eyes again.

“Whaaa…?” I ask no one in particular. Because suddenly, my world has been changed.

Not only can I see every detail of the aquarium– I can see it in color.

Marty, the mantis shrimp who lives on the west side of the aquarium, has tried to describe color to me. He says my skin tends to be hues of brown and murky red on good days, and greenish-white on bad ones. But how do you describe color to someone who can only see in
black and white?

This new world is more than I ever could have imagined.

The vibrancy, the pure glow of each separate shade, is beautiful. I see the gleam of the sun as it begins to rise outside the aquarium, and it’s incredible. I discover that the shimmering color of glass changes fainty the longer I stare at it. I look down and notice my skin is a happy red. Red! I know what red means now. No longer do I live in darkness and shadow; I am a creature of the light.

I’m still taking in the amazingly colorful place around me when I hear a whisper.


“Aki!” I happily scoot over to my friend’s tank. She peers at me through the glass. “Aki, you’ll never guess what happened. I can see in color! Oh, it’s beautiful…”

“Wait, what? Dude, have you been eating the shark food again?”

“No! And– that was one time. One time.”

“Sure. Hey, shouldn’t you be back in your tank by now?” Aki tips her head at me, concerned. I gasp, realizing that I’ve been out for way longer than I ever should be. Then I pause. My skin isn’t dry. I can breathe just fine, without the awful sensation of drawing the last bits of oxygen through the water on my skin.

And I realize I’ve gained not one, but two superpowers.

As soon as I tell Aki, she freaks out.

“Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh, don’t you know what this means? You can live on land! You’re a water animal who can survive out of water! This is amazing!”

I laugh, relishing the feeling of being alive, truly alive, without the safety and comfort of my tank. “I still don’t know what those lights were, though…”

“What lights?” Asks Aki.

“There were a bunch of lights, super bright ones, in your tank. I think that’s what gave me my new abilities.”

“In my tank?” Aki looks confused. “I didn’t see any lights.”

“Huh,” I say. “That’s weird.”

“Weird? More like… awesome! My best friend has superpowers!” Aki swims around in an excited circle.

“Aw, I’m your best friend?” My tentacles turn an even brighter hue of red.

“Yep. Sure are,” says Aki. For the first time, I notice a stripe of orange on her underbelly.

“I think I’m going to like this new life,” I say. “I think I’m going to like it a lot.”

Written by Maiya Brock from Santa Fe, NM