it takes all sorts

It was the season of the Mayfly, a hungry Lord sat fishing by the edge of a river contemplating the mysteries of life. Since dawn, he’d been hoping to catch a run of fish but not one nibbled his bait and his line lay slack. No matter, for this Lord was an optimistic fellow and trusted one would eventually succumb besides, he had baited his hook in a most enticing manner, having dipped its tip in the sweetest of fish nectars. So sat the Lord and as dusk fell, it was just himself, a rod, a line, a baited hook until finally, finally there came a tug.

Slow and steady the Lord reeled in his catch and it seemed the creature knew her fate for she hardly fought, wriggled or writhed and as he tore the hook from her mouth, the fish gasped and then in a sweet and lyrical voice, clearly thanked the Lord.

‘Thank you…,’ gulped the spirited fish, ‘I thought I was going to die,’  before adding, ‘No need to be afraid I wont harm you, I promise.’

If only the Lord could say the same for himself.

‘I know, I know,’ she  babbled, ‘as fishes  go I  am not what  you expected.’

Bemused the Lord looked upon her. She was not the finest of fish, her scales were slightly lack lustre and her tail fin was scarred, nor was she the smartest having fallen for his bait. Still her eyes were alluring and sparkled.

‘So,’ she said, ‘If  you  don’t mind…’

‘What..?’

‘Dropping me back in the river?’

‘Mind?’  Never before had the lord caught a talking fish. She was undoubtedly a rarity, a one off, an exception, and truly extraordinary.

‘Little Fish,’ he ventured, ‘Now I have found you, I can never let you go. You, are priceless.’

‘But if not submerged in water, presently worthless,’

The Lord took her hint, filled his bucket and plopped her inside.

‘Agh better,’ she gasped, ‘Now, I feel so much better.’

She dipped and dived and splashed her tail.

The Lord wondered what to do with her. He  imagined exhibiting her in a cut glass bowl in a room with a turnstile at the door. People from all over the world would come to adore her and pore over her, yet the thought of all those visitors…  every day…  and all those cups of tea…. He realised he’d never get a moment’s peace. Perhaps he might donate her to science, but he recalled how prone to  dissection lab men were and  decided against the cold laboratory slab.

Meanwhile the fish smiled up at him,  ‘How curious …, You know I’ve  never met a  Lord  before.  I’ve met a  pike,  an eel and salmon but not a lord.’

‘What was the eel like?

‘A slippery fellow,’ she mused.

The Lord and the fish struck up a conversation that carried them through the night and into the morning. The fish told the Lord of her life in the cool flowing waters and the Lord told the fish of his land lubbing ways. They marvelled at their differences and consequential similarities.

And every  few  seconds  it  crossed the Lord’s  mind just how enchanting the  fish was.

And every few seconds the fish considered the Lord quite captivating, literally and metaphorically.

And as the sun chased the moon through days an increasingly ravenous Lord and flighty fish spilled secrets that no one but they would ever be privy.

And as the days began to pile up, they did gaze upon one another quite mesmerised. They were hopelessly and wholly in love.

He pondered,  ‘A fish in love with a man? How preposterous!’

She  considered,  ‘A man in love with a fish? Perhaps less so, but all the same, restrictive.’

At the best of times love is cruel and in between times has a propensity to torture, tease and mock. The Lord and the fish knew not what to do or how to overcome their physical distance, only that their love for  one another  was all consuming.

Eventually the near starved Lord said, ‘If only you could  grant me a wish little fish, I would wish to be beneath the water with you, sustained by your love and forever yours.’

‘A wish!’ she laughed, ‘Good Lord, they are the stuff of fairy tales.’

‘I am so very hungry for you,’ pronounced the Lord and on hearing this, the fish had an idea.

The fish requested the Lord build a fire.  He did as bid and when the flames were hell  hot, she ordered the Lord to lay her upon them. The Lord defiantly refused to carry out an act of such barbaric madness.

‘That,’ she declared, ‘may be, but Lord I am so in love with you, I willingly give you my life so that you may be nourished.’

‘Over my dead body,’ cried the Lord. He grabbed the fish from the bucket  ready to fling her back into the river but  she slipped through his bony fingers on to the fire and  the  blaze engulfed her immediately.

A piercing pain shot through the Lord’s heart and tears streaked down his cheeks. Within moments, the air was heavy and pungent with the most wondrous of scents. Intoxicated the famished, the Lord, overcome by his basest of needs, and despite his grief, quickly gobbled her down. Yet, in his hungry haste, he swallowed a bone, a bone that stuck in his throat and choking to death the Lord tumbled into the fast flowing river, as the last of the little fish burnt to cinder ash.

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Still, this is not a sad  story, for  when the first star appeared reflected in the water  two river spirits ascended on high and to this day there remain; weaving in and out of one another in present time, ad infinitum.

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