Shadow — actually, mine — cast on green water.
Day for night? I took this picture from Fish Strand Quay in Falmouth, Cornwall, on a bright afternoon. My story is set in St Mawes, across the water, at night.

Fishing

Fish and chips on the bench at the end, where the ferry docks, between a stack of lobster pots (and an enormous anchor) and a small-ish boy fishing. He has a blue beach-bucket, shaped for making castle-shaped sandcastles, and an insubstantial fishing rod, possibly bought at the same holiday shop as the bucket.

Skinny little boy, very light hair, quick and busy, on his own. It’s — what? — 9.30pm, full dark, and we’re looking back at the town and the many windows looking out at the sea and the sea reflecting back at them. So many lives, curtains open. Those windows would be black from the inside.

We don’t notice the boy, particularly, except that he’s about right for what he is — very alive, very quick, very engaged with what he’s doing — and that is satisfying to see. Then — “I think he’s caught something!” — he’s holding the rod up above his head and it’s bent down into a u-shape and then there’s the fish — about a foot long, slender, flipping, trying to breathe.

He gets a gradual audience of mostly older men, some boys, who are interested now in what bait he’s using (prawns from his bucket). He accepts help releasing the hook, and then he races off with the fish in his bucket to show his grandma, who is in a house on the front.

“Could you watch my stuff?”

Of course we could.

He comes back. His grandma was delighted, he released the fish as she watched, it swam off, all is well.

We are back to eating fish, from boxes, on our bench. Each of us has a bottle of beer/cider and we are talking about future plans: a flat in Penzance; a flat in Bath; Swansea; perhaps Truro; the family diaspora.

The water is multi-coloured with the lights along the front. The ferry has been moored and left dark; now it wakes up again — there is a last boat across to Falmouth.

The boy catches another fish. This time, there is a problem. The fish has swallowed the bait. We go to help. Somebody in the audience says, and repeats, “I’m a vegetarian.” The hook is set deep and there is only one thing to be done. But the boy hasn’t killed a fish before.

This audience has that skill. He’s shown what to do, and then it’s done for him.

His grandma will cook it for him. “He’ll probably have it with chips,” somebody says, as we collect up our polystyrene boxes and the empty bottles.

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Writer, editor, publisher, Creative Director (seriously) at Climbing Tree Books (dot net). All views are my own. Mostly.

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William Essex

William Essex

Writer, editor, publisher, Creative Director (seriously) at Climbing Tree Books (dot net). All views are my own. Mostly.

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