Friday, February 12, 2010

Jared's Diamond Fish

A response to Nathaniel Lee's "Alone on the Diamond Sea" in Mirror Shards.

Jared watched the sun rise over the coastal mountains as the wind splashed spray from the waves across his face in bursts of foam. He held the fishnet, half of it still dragging behind the skiff, and watched the pink and oranges flicker across the edges of the clouds on the horizon. It would be a hot punishing day later, but it was perfect now. Jared pulled the fishnet into the boat. One of the fish, golden scales like the sun, stood out from all the other silvery anchovies. Jared picked it up and almost dropped it when the fish winked at him.

"Hey, throw me back," said the fish. Jerry did drop the fish this time and it flopped on the floor of the boat. The fish's pectoral and tail fins flapped and the fish skittered across the bottom of the boat until it hit the sloping side, but it didn't have to enough strength to get out of the boat.

"Hey buddy, --"

"It's Jared." Fishes didn't talk. Had Jared had too much wine last night?

"Hey Jared, throw me back into the sea."

"What. How can a fish talk?"

The fish stood up on its pelvic fins and wiggled its dorsal as its gills pulsed. "I've got a mouth just like you. Has breathing air damaged your brain?" Jared didn't answer the fish. The fish's dorsal fin grew limp and the fish said, "I'll tell you what, if you throw me back, your net will capture diamonds for every fish you would've caught."

Jared imagined a chest full of diamonds and his hands digging and letting them fall like a stone waterfall. "Okay, you have a deal." Jared picked up the fish.

"Careful, you oaf. Don't bend my pecs that way."

Jared swung the fish underhand and it arced into the sea. Jared definitely needed to lay off the drink.

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