The Young Fisherman
( The young mermaid side of the story. )
By Edwin Tomes
They traveled up the river, sleeping under docks at night when they needed to sleep. Her mother told her it was safe under the docks, because no boats could pass overhead, and that the humans that fish don’t cast their fishing lines under the docks at night.
As they traveled Marina notice the river very slowly getting more narrow. She felt as if the land was closing in on her, she was used to the open sea where she could swim in any direction. Her mother began to notice that some thing was bothering her daughter and had a ideal what it was, fore her mother too had felt the same way when she traveled this far inland from the sea, but she had over come her fear, and she would stop now and then to hold her, saying to her that every thing was going to be alright. This help for the most part, yet the closed in feeling of the land could never go away while she was still in the river.
On the 5th day they came to a old dock that looked like it had not been used in a long time. Schools of fish swam hung around and under the dock. They swam half way under it when her mother turned to her and said, “ This is where you stay while I go the rest of way myself. I just have to go to the place where the medicine plant grows, it is just a little ways father up, but you are not ready for this part of the journey. No humans come to this dock any more, so you will be safe here. “ She told her with a reassuring smile.
Her mother took the back pack off. From it she took out some sea clams that she had brought with them. She explained to her that the salt water clams didn’t like the fresh water and would be easier to open than when they were in salt water. After they finished their meal her mother open the back pack and took out 2 of the bags that they had brought with them. Her mother turned to her and said, “ If I am not back by nightfall you are to swim back to the clan. You know the way now, just go with the current down river to the sea. “ Till her mother had told her this she had never thought that something might happen to her mother and she began to whimper a little with fear. “ Don’t worry, I will be careful, this is just what we tell our young healers before we get the blossom. My mother told me the same thing when I went on my first Great Journey and someday you will say the same words to your daughter. “ When this was said she gathered up the two bags and swam under the dock to where the water plants that she needed grew.
At first Marina was scarred. Sure she had been alone before, but never in what the humans would call 10 feet of water and with not open water about her, but land on both sides. She wrapped her arms about herself, closed her eyes wishing that she was back in the safety of the open sea. Slowly she drifted to the sandy bottom where she came to rest. Marina laid there shutting out the world about her, thinking of the sea that she didn’t know when sleep came to take her to the sea in her dreams.
When Marina awoke for a moment she thought that she was back with her mother in the sea. Her hopes were dashed when she realized that she was still under the dock. The land had not swallowed her up while she has slept like she has feared it would. Every thing was just the way she had seen it when she had closed her eyes. The schools of fish were under the dock the shade of the dock escaping the heat and glare of the early summer sun. The dock was the coolest place close by. Marina was starting to get a bit warm herself, when she had fallen asleep the sun had not reached her, but now it had and it made her uncomfortable, so she swam under the dock into shallower water.
Suddenly the first board of the dock to the land creaked, then another. Some one was walking out on the old dock ! Marina realized in terror. “ Should she flee from her hiding place under the dock to deeper water ? ” she thought. Her mother had told her to stay under the dock till she came back. What would her mother do if she came to the dock finding the human there and her gone. The boards continue to creak under the weight of the human. Each step brought the being closer and closer to her. She almost bolted as the board above her creaked. Between the cracks of the board she caught sight of a flicker of movement through the wooden boards, then the human was past her. The boards continued to creak and moan marking the progress of the human as he walked down the dock. When he was almost near the end of the dock he stopped. There was a gentle Thump like some thing was being placed on the dock. After a bit there was some rustling, there a soft Plop at the end of the dock in the water. A round floating object had hit the water floating on the surface. Suspended below it was a bit of line. A small bead of lead, and a hook with a worm she had never seen before. She had seen worms before, there are many different kinds in the sea, but this one was different. Soil still clung to it, but in the water it was sliding of the worm leaving it clean looking.
Some of the fish swam up to it pecking at it trying just a small taste. When they did the float would bob around, then would shoot to the surface and disappear, only to drop back down once again to the place it had just left. A school of 5 small fish surrounded the worm, now and then one would dart in and steal a bite of the worm. One of the 5 was more greedy than the others, and swam in managing to get most of the hooked worm in it’s tiny mouth and swam away for the others not wanting the other fish in the school to have his prize. Other of his school tried to follow hoping to get a bite of the piece of worm that trailed from his mouth. He pulled the float under the surface as it made a run for under the dock trying to get away from his small school of friends. Suddenly the fish with the worm in it’s mouth was jerked around by the line and pulled to the surface where it disappeared. Marina could hear overhead a flopping sound as the little fish tried in vane to get off the hook and escape. Then the sound of the struggling fish stopped and it was very quite. A minute later the board at the end of the dock creaked and a shadowy form appeared. Before her a human hand the size of her own slipped beneath the surface above her. In it was the small greedy little fish. The little fish looked tired, and there was a small cut behind the upper jaw on the left side where the hook had cut through. Slowly the hand moved the fish back and forth through the water. With each back and forth movement the little fish seem to get stronger and soon shot from the human hands to the shelter of the small pile of clam shells that Marina and her mother had dropped. There it seemed to sulk. “ It serves you right. “ she told the little fish that hid in the pile of shells. “ That is what happens for being greedy. You were lucky the human didn’t want you or you would have become his dinner. “
Marina herself was becoming hungry. She couldn’t catch the quick little fish here and beside they had become her companions as she waited for her mother. The fish had shown her that the human put on the hook was eatable. Very slowly Marina swam up to the worm on the hook and study it. If she was careful she should be able to unhook the worm without getting hooked herself. Very carefully she began to unhook the worm. While she did this the float bobbed and moved above her, but she failed to notice it. The hook with the worm half way off shot to the surface almost hooking her. Marina was so startled that she swam deep under the dock, her heart pounding in her chest.
A short time later the worm that she had been trying to get off the hook came drifting down to rest on the bottom. One of the fish that had tried to take the worm from the one that got hooked came up to is cautiously and bit a piece off. When nothing happen he grabbed the worm and swam off.
Marina got her nerve to try again she promised herself that she would be more careful. There was no telling what the human would do if he did catch her. This time she bumped the line a few times, then the hook and line would shoot up. She kept doing this and the line would always shoot to the surface. It was kind a fun actually, and after a while he could hear the human muttering in frustration. After a while no matter how many times she bumped the line nothing would happen. The fisherman must have either become bored, or he was wise to her tricks. “ Now I wonder what would happen if I pulled the line under and held it. “ she thought. She tried this. Right away the line would be yanked up. “ It was back to having fun again ! “
Despite all the fun teasing the fisherman she was starting to get hungry. So very carefully she unhooked the worm without it shooting out of her hand. When she was done she pulled hard on the line and watched it disappear at the surface, where she knew a new worm would be threaded onto the hook.
She looked at the worm, then smelled it. The worm didn’t smell all that good, but the fish around here seemed to like it. She put the whole worm into her mouth and bit into it. “ YUCK !!!! It tasted like mud and not very good mud at that. “ she thought as she spitted it out as fast as she could. As it drifted in the water a small fish snatched it up and darted away. “ You can have it ! “ she told the fish.
This gave her a ideal. Taking the bait off the hook, just the challenge of it without getting caught was fun, but she sure didn’t want that yucky worm. She also didn’t like seeing her little friends getting hurt. This was also a whole lot more fun than just waiting for her mother to return.
She began to take the bait off the hook, then breaking it off into little pieces of worm and feeding it to her little fishy friends. Soon she had 50 little fishy friends swarming around her. When she needed more she would simple yank on the line a few times and a new worm would come down. She was starting to become quite good at removing the worm, it was simple once you knew how to do it.
Sometimes one of the fish in the schools around her would see the large worm on the hook and would beat her to the bait. Most of the time they would get hooked and be pulled to the surface. If it was a certain size it wouldn’t be returned to the water. This sadden her a little, but this was ok, the larger fish were more greedy and ate more than the smaller fish and they didn’t seem as friendly.
It was late in the afternoon when the hook quit being dropped into the water. Marina waited and waited before at last the baited hook was dropped back into the water. Right away the small fish swam up to it. This time they didn’t go after it, but instead looked at it, then turn and swam back under the dock to Marina and waited for her to feed them. Marina thought that this was very strange and looked at the new offering. It wasn’t a worm this time, and there wasn’t much of a smell coming from it. There was a hard dark brown almost shell like on one side, while the other side was tan with some thing in it. A small piece of the brown shell had broken off and slid down the tan sticky looking stuff to slowly flutter towards the bottom. She caught it before it touch the bottom, smelled it herself and put the fragment into her mouth. Slowly it melted in her mouth, her eyes widen in surprised. It was sweet, very sweet like nothing she had ever tasted before. She turned back to this tasty offering. This was not going to be as easy as removing the worm. The hook was totally encased in the treat, so that she had no ideal where the point of the hook was. She grabbed the line above the hook with her left hand. With her right she held the treat with her thumb and fore finger and slowly began to pull the hook out. She couldn’t stop the float from wiggling, she could only hope that the fisherman didn’t notice.
The fisherman did notice. Marina suddenly felt a sharp pain at the tip of her right finger as the line slid in her left hand. The hook had pulled through the treat and into her finger. She wrapped her left hand around the line a few times and swam around the closest pier despite the pull of the line that wanted her to come to the surface. After swimming around the pier a few times the pull on the line wasn’t as strong and Marina was able to pull the hook out of the tip of her index finger. The fisherman bent the barb back on the hook so she was able to remove the hook easily. When the hook was removed she simply let it go where it soon became caught on the wooden pier. From the constant pulling of the fisherman on the end of the line the hook embedded it’s self in the pier. There was no way the hook could be removed with out her help. The line began to hum as the fisherman hoped to pull it free. Finely the line snapped with a loud CRACK.
Marina laid there far under the dock sucking on her finger till the pain began to slowly fade away. On the sand just out of the shade in the sun laid the tasty treat that had caused her so much pain. It sat with the hard shell on the sand and the creamy looking part facing up towards the sun. It seemed to call to her, tempting her once more. “ This time there would be no hook, so what would it hurt. “ She thought. The rumble in her stomach caused her to over come her fear and the pain, without knowing when she found herself swimming over and picking up the tasty treat.
This was not the tiny fragment, but a whole bite and it fill her mouth with a delicious sweet wonderful flavor. She closed her eyes enjoying every moment till it while it lasted. Maybe she could forgive the fisherman for what he had done, she had known that she could get hooked, and maybe she could have been more careful. Overhead she heard the fisherman rustling. “ Was he leaving ! No, please no not after she had tasted such a wonderful thing and have him leave. Maybe if she gave him his hook and bobber back he would bait the hook again like he had done with the worm and drop it back down. “ Marina thought. She swam over to the hook, removed it, unwrapped the line from around the pier, then she swam to the end of the dock and let the bobber float to the surface.
She waited, and waited what seemed like a hours, but was in fact a few minutes. “ What is the matter with this human, was he blind or what ? “ She wondered as she began to grow impatient. Finely she couldn’t take it any more. Marina swam up to the surface near the broken line and looked up. She couldn’t see the human, but she knew that he was there, because the boards would have creaked as he moved off the dock, and this had not happen. “ Maybe he needs a little help. “ she thought. With this in mind she gathered up the line and bobber, then without making a sound she flicked her wrist and threw it onto the dock. There was a loud “ Thud “ as the bobber, hook, line and sinker hit and rolled on the dock. Satisfied with what she had done Marina swam under the dock. Overhead she could hear the humans say some thing, but she couldn’t make it out what it was. At the end of the dock she could heard the human doing some thing, then the noise stopped. All was very quite. Puzzled Marina poked her head out of the water and swam farther under the dock.
Very slowly a young boy’s head inched over the edge of the dock. From the look of him he looked to be Marina’s own age. He had soft green eye, and short sandy brown hair. In fact he was even kind a cute she thought, for a human. He didn’t say any thing, just stared at her before he finely said, “ Are you the one that has been eating my candy bars ? “ As she looked into those soft green eyes she couldn’t find her voice to answer him. She had never talked to a human before, it was forbidden, yet here she was face to face with one now. All she could do was look at him and slowly smile. “ Well if you wanted one all you had to do was ask. Do you want one now ? I will share what I have with you. “ he told her. When she didn’t answer his head disappeared and she could hear him moving about.
Marina didn’t answer, “ What is a candy bar ? “ she wonder. “ Was it that wonderful sweet thing that he had placed on the hook last time ? “ She swam closer to the end of the dock. “ What would her mother do when she told her that she had talked with a human, even let one see her. “ she continued to wonder. Before she could answer that thought the boy had appeared at the edge of the dock once more. This time he reached under the dock and in his right hand he held a some thing that was 8 inches long, 2 inches wide and was a very dark brown color. The color was like the top and bottom of that tasty treat that he had put on the hook. Was this a candy bar ? The boy opened his hand offering this tasty treat to her. “ Should she accept this gift he offered, what if it was some sort of a trap. If she moved quick enough she could snatch the candy bar from his hands before he could do any thing, or she could slowly sink to the bottom and swim away to safety, but that candy bar was soooo good and tempting, she could still taste the last bite of what he called a “ Candy bar “ that she ached to have just another taste, and here he was offering a whole bar of it to her. What ever the trap or trick she knew that she would be quick enough. Marina shot forward and swiped the candy bar out of his hand. She struck with such swiftness that as her hand with the candy bar hit the water it splashed the boy in the face forcing him to close his eyes. While his eyes were close Marina felt a little mischievous and as she turned away with her prize in her hand hit the surface of the water with her tail getting the boy even more wet. She giggled, then dove for the bottom swimming deep under the dock and enjoyed her treat.
While she enjoyed the candy bar she heard him sputtering , “ What did you do that for ? “ as he jumped away from the edge of the dock. Under the water resting on the bottom she could make out the shadowy outline of the edge of the dock. A shadow began to expand from the edge and Marina knew that it was the boy once more crawling over the edge of the dock and looking under it. “ Hello ? “ he said. Then a little louder he said again, “ Hello ? “ When she didn’t answer him the shadow disappeared and she heard the boards begin to creak over head and heard him yell, “ Helloooo ?! Hey, where did you go ? “ When she didn’t answer she heard him moving around, stop, then heard him walk off the dock. When creaking of the board had stopped at the end of the dock she heard him yell, “ I don’t know who ever you are or why you got me wet, but I will be back tomorrow if I can. Bye. “