There Was a Fish
A Free Flow From the Fingers
There was a fish. It was gold and orange and green and had two sets of antlers implanted firmly on the head and back. It’s mouth gaped open and closed as it moved through the current. In the steam of a volcanic vent, the fish swam slowly to warm its cold blood. Above the water the sky was dark with clouds and the storm that had just passed left electricity in the air. This did not affect the fish. It swam on.
A boat drifted on the water. In it was a chef and a sailor. The sailor said to the chef, “mighty fine catch today,” as he looked at their pile of dead carcauses stacked neatly in a box. The chef nodded and continued gutting their prize. On the back of the boat were two small rods, each with a line dragging in the water. Far below the surface, the lures twinkled in the murky water, unaware. The fish paid them no mind. He had eaten today. He would not be hungry again for another hundred years.
Dropping down from the clouds a whirl of wind picked up and spun the water below it. A small tornado of waves kissed the edge of the boat sending the chef and sailor below deck to hide away. They chewed on hard bread and scooped handfuls of fish eyes. Upwards to the ceiling they looked cautiously, wondering if the patch work roof would survive another storm. It would not. As the wind stole away the rods and the lures and the box of caught fish, the banging of wood shook the men to their spines. In seventeen minutes, they would be thrown from their place and forced to evacuate to the life raft which would quickly sink from damage by the storm.
The men held on the best they could to the debris that trickled away from the scene of the crime and as their shouts dampened in the roar, they bid their adues and sank. The sailor passed the antlered fish on the way down. He twisted his eyebrows at the curious sight and gave the last of his energy in an outstretched hand. The fish paid him no mind. It returned to the volcanic vent and waited for the next boat to arrive.
On the shore, forty miles away, a boy swung a stick at the waves. His mother beckoned him inside their beach-side home in fear of the evolving storm. The boy was determined to kill the ocean in retaliation for the death of his father, the crew chief of a billionaire’s yacht which sank two months prior. The sand beneath his feet was soft and malleable. Wet and clumpy. It stuck to the bottom of his shoes as he ran to and fro. The coast was losing light as the sun fought through thicker and thicker clouds though the beam from the lighthouse illuminated the strand on a timer. “Die, water, die,” the boy screamed, throwing handfuls of ground shells at the foam. He did not know about the fish in the vent, and the fish knew nothing of him. The fish’s home was under attack, and the fish paid no mind.
Helicopters were sent with hopes of retrieving a fishing boat that left too late. Their radars showed emptiness and their telescopes showed less. This would be the last loop as the winds were starting to play cat and mouse with the propeller blades. The pilot fought the controls and the controls fought back. A man in a uniform shook his hand in a circle and sent the flying machine back to where it came from. The search was over. As they trotted back, the downwind splashed the water, turning foam and microorganisms in their place. For a single cell of bacteria, this was the reckoning. In the distance, just two miles from the turn around point, a collection of waterlogged plants bobbed in the wake, unassuming.
Halfway around the world, a bear in an unsanctioned zoo let out a groan. It turned over in it’s slumber only to rest more comfortably with its shoulder pressed into the bars of the cage. For a dollar-fifty, an impoverished girl and her struggling parents could reach a hand out and give a light touch of the fur. The memory would lead her in a forever upspiraling battle to become one of the world's most renowned zoologists. Thirty years of debt and scholarships would put her in the position to tear down that unsanctioned zoo and deport the animals to their rightful place. The bear, by then, would be dead.
In the shadow of the eye of the storm, the rocks along the coast were jagged, broken, a wall of knives for nothing less than the breaking of waves, and ships, and people. At the bottom of the cliffs sat a city of boards. Old boats and old memories. Memories of love and fear and contentment and success and failure. Memories that crashed on the rocks, dragged through the wake, stripped the paint from the wood and the wood from the hull. Whether these ships were docked at the marina three towns away or they were out to sea is unknown, and now irrelevant. All is irrelevant. Contextless. Ephemeral. Quiet. Nothing.
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