“Catching Mermaids”

“Catching Mermaids” is a drabble I wrote originally for a creative writing class in collage. I lost the original work, unfortunately, but I have recreated it below the cut. Though I still believe the original was better, I love the idea of the story. I hope others find it entertaining, at least.

 

Reach, pull. Reach, pull. Reach, pull.

The fisherman repeated the movement over and over, hauling up the nets full of fish and the occasional debris of the ocean. Even with the storm raining down upon him, he did not falter in his work. Weather and sun beaten skin looked leathered upon his hands, his face. There were scars, too, from misplaced knives and pockmarks.

Enough fish during the season would fetch enough money to live off of for a time before he would have to push his boat out to sea again. It was not glamorous. He was, by no means, famous for his work. It was work, however, and that meant a roof over his head and a full belly on cold winter days.

The rain continued to beat down upon him, driving into him like needles. He ignored it, the pounding, and continued to pull up net after net of glimmering, silver fish.

Reach, pull. Reach, pull. Reach, pull.

It had not always been like this. When he was a child, he had hoped for a better future. For a love of his work, for a wife, for children. He played pirates with his friends. He read of far off adventures, of worlds unexplored. Page after page brought life to his universe, to his world. Wide-eyed and yearning, he spent many years reading leather bound novels by candle light, long after he was meant to be in bed.

He had found ink lovers in those pages, beautiful women who swooned over their heroic savior. Often, he imagined himself surrounded by gold and love, food and dancers, music and stories to tell the eager guests.

Then, he grew old.

Time was not kind to the fisherman. His parents passed on, his friends left the sea side village to find their places in the world elsewhere. For some reason, he stayed. He could have left. There was no shackle about his ankle. The sea, though. To look upon her for one last time, to leave her behind and to never look back…He would have rather died.

Reach, pull. Reach, pull. Reach–

Something heavy was caught up in the net. He pulled harder, using all of the strength in his old bones to bring the net to the deck of his tiny vessel. The rain and wind whipped at him. Something in the air begged him to release the net, to turn about, to leave. To go, to go, to go. He grit his teeth and continued, even as the feeling crept up his spine. Something was wrong. Something was–

PULL.

There! It was finally on deck. He loosened the net, releasing hundreds of slimy, shimmering fish. But there–there was more.

She was longer than a human, her tail hurriedly flapping about as though trying to swim through the air. Her skin was pale, covered in glimmering, winter-white scales. Razor sharp teeth protruded from her mouth as she gasped–in and out–trying to suck in water. Her fingers were webbed and clawed.

The man stared down at her for a moment, this disgusting creature with seaweed tangled up in her hair. Her eyes rested upon him, hatred burning in them like a flame from Hell itself. He put one boot on her chest, thinking of crushing her where she flopped about.

Instead, he lifted her up in his tired arms, and he threw her back over the edge of the boat.
Mermaids did not fetch a pretty price at market, after all.

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