That Darn Darn Fish – Part 1

Melony was a fisher woman, but before you start conjuring up images of old, pickled, rolly polly ladies that smell worse than a cat litter tray in high summer, let me explain that she was 15, lean and lithe and full of a dark and powerful grace. She would dive from the little platform at the end of her boat and plunge into the clear crisp waters, spear in hand and beads flashing.

On this particular day she was planning to feed the whole barge train, a series of wide shallow boats that worked their ways round the shallows between the islands and up some of the larger rivers of the main land. There was even a horse to help tug the boats across the marshes and the like. Melony was a very specific kind of person and having found that they had obtained broccoli from the mainland and tomatoes from the north she planned to make a supper involving steaming and stirring and smothering. The tomatoes were to be stirred to a sauce and the broccoli steamed and the fish smothered in the sauce. And so she was fishing.

Under the water she swam with elegance, she had been born in the water after all, she did not think about breathing or rhythm or stroke. A silver glint caught her attention and she spotted a nice big plump specimen, and darted towards it. To her surprise it evaded and she followed countering it’s move but it dodged again and again, but though it was evading her, it was not escaping as such and so she followed it. Within her head, she cursed it.

She resurfaced a couple of times to take quick sweet breaths and then she was off again on the hunt but the darn thing kept darting away almost as if it could read her mind. It was quite sometime before she realised what she had done, she stared around herself whilst treading water but there was no boat and she could see no islands and then the chill of realisation hit, she could not see the land beneath the waves.

The fish surfaced and seemed to nod cheekily at her and then dove down into the water, she did not follow. Checking the suns direction she set out at a sedate pace for where she thought home was. She kept the spear even though it slowed her, her reasoning being you never did know what could come up especially in the deeps.

When fatigue began to weight her limbs she rolled onto her back and lay back and dozed off and on in the last rays of the sun. The cool night air awoke her and she prayed that she had not drifted too far off course. Where as the water had been cool and the air and sun warm on her back now there was chill in the air and the water was a warm contrast. She set out again taking the stars as guides but knew that she was most definitely lost.

Her mouth was feeling dry and she knew that her danger now was dying of thirst whilst surrounded by water, she swam on in hope. A sliver dating like moonbeams on the waves caught her attention and to her horror the fish was there keeping pace by her side. Now Melony began to panic, this was strange and spoke of the old magics her grandmother was want to talk about. She tried to ignore it but it’s darting splashes seemed to be creating a tinkling sound, a lovely music of the sea and night sky. and still there was no deep darkness on the horizon that spoke of land, just a smattering of ice bright stars.

She stopped swimming and trod water, she was starting to feel very tired now but knew of at least one tribesman who had stayed alive like this for three days. ‘What do you want?’ she asked the fish.

‘You!’ it replied but before Melony could panic it began to change, it’s features morphing to those of a young man, he was silver and liquid quick and caught her before she could shoot away into the waves. ‘You are tired do not fight! As good a swimmer as you are, you can drown – I can not!’

She glared at him but he smiled, ‘I have never seen such swimming! You must have been born to the water!’ when she nodded he laughed and began to tow her in towards a dark smudge she hadn’t noticed on the horizon.

‘What are you?’ she said making sure she still had a firm grip on her spear.

‘I am a Fishman, a prince of the waves.’ He raised an eyebrow but she was not impressed.

‘I am Melony, Fisherwoman of the Barge Train,’ he nodded understanding her role.

‘You are a queen, the working queen of your people!’ he bubbled and kissed her on the check and then laughingly tugged her onwards. She was glad to feel her feet touch the sand and strode out onto the beach.

‘I do not recognise this island!’ she gasped, she had not thought that possible.

‘No! That is because I made it for you!’

‘Why?’ she asked suspiciously.

‘Because I thought you might like it,’ he said sounding worried and sad.

He looked so upset and she recalled that earlier that day she had been trying to catch him to cook, ‘it seems very nice.’ She said slowly.

He beamed at her and stuck out his hand for an age old greeting, ‘friends?’ he asked.

She nodded back, ‘yes friends,’ she smiled and then grabbed his hand. ‘Lets explore!’ she cried and they raced off over the fine fine sand.

Posted: Friday, July 19th, 2013 @ 4:47 pm
Categories: Darn Fish, Flash Fiction, Series.
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