The Angler

Where did my page go? The shore rumbled. A flurry of camels trotted along the coast. The ivory fabric draping over the heads of distant princes—at least fifteen princes, would you believe it?—cracked like whips. They rode on horses of platinum and marble. My book plummeted. It danced upon the floor of the ship, in rhythm with the bustling party below the Mediterranean Sea.

My page did not matter. I let its wisdom vanish into the burst of colour, the brilliance: the pungent meals, the booming, poignant music. And that did not matter. All of the laws of the universe, as old as time, remained evergreen and in full bloom within my brain—or perhaps I should replace ‘brain’ with ‘soul’. It sounds far more nuanced, profound. Don’t you reckon?

We drifted from the land. The gaggle of princes, now fading, ballyhooed my presence and mourned my departure. The whole world trembled with their cries. You may not believe me when I say I was a still ocean, unmoved by their reverence. And if you do not believe me, then please watch me paint a picture of a white beard, twirled between lissom fingers lined like ancient trunks, and a mellow gaze that twinkles knowingly. And there you have it: my portrait. I had nothing to offer the princes but a motion of my hand. After all, their adulation was a mere cent in exchange for the gifts I had bestowed upon their faraway kingdoms.

By the time night fell and the clouds were low, the ship was a speck amongst the deep and endless blue. Maybe not a speck. It was more like a burning star in space, I think. If only sound could travel through space. I wonder, do stars move in a fixed pattern? If so, then I want you to imagine the most energetic star that you can, threshing and swivelling haphazardly on its axis. Amplify its luminosity by the billions, even trillions.

An elaborate web of dancers sprawled across the deck, rolling their bellies like the sea that roiled underneath. Drums pounded. Sea-maidens beat their tails. All the people swallowed piquant pomegranates and rich chocolate off glistening platters, quaffed the most spirituous of concoctions, and chanted. You would have loved to be there, I’ll bet. Who wouldn’t?

The sea-maidens sang, too, and I had stirred at last—no, I combusted. As though bejewelled, their tails scintillated beneath the half-obscured moonlight. Beads of water adorned the groaning floor. Molecules unlaced and recoiled, like the plaits that dangled gracefully over their breasts. Golds and silvers seized the puddle’s place. All the people and the countless dancers halted abruptly, clutched at the deck, and fought one another to kiss my feet. But you know me: I am generous, and it was no great matter. One does not laud a fish for swimming expertly, do they? Besides, my gaze was latched onto the sea-maidens. My hips, automatic, swayed. Their song stippled me like a gentle rain until I was completely submerged.

The people went quiet.

Shakily, I reached for the comely girls. I groped at nothing. The heavy swell had swept them into mounds and mounds of froth.

Warm honey seeped through silver slits in the blackness above. Feverishly, I collected the droplets in my withered paws. Paws, I say, with which I grew unable to cup the seafoam of civilisation. They were merely spotted, puckered nubs grasping at the ever-dwindling earth. It was as if the tide only ever ebbed.

I hung over the gunwale, hurling the remnants of a stormy night from the pits of my stomach, out into the ocean. The stench of fish was heavy in the air. I stared intimately into the dull, greyish, familiar eyes of the Pacific. My hair was matted, wild and wiry, and littered with dried out scales. The Mediterranean Sea dissolved into my mind’s mist, a ghost of desperate ideation. Soaked, soggy pages lay at my tattered boots. I had read those pages time and time again, between all the hours, bitten-off bait, and vacant hooks. Blotches of ink rendered all the stories inscrutable.

With considerable effort, I pulled myself up. I trudged to the mast, wringing my shirt out onto the deck. Gulls squawked. Waves gurgled below the hull. Alas, I traded my scimitar and life’s elixir for a rod and gut-coated butter knife. There were no princes, no pomegranates. There were no sea-maidens. But there was old Mortimer, casting his net again. He hoarsely hummed a garbled version of the sea-maidens’ tune. The sweet-sounding melody was broken occasionally by a wheeze or the passing of wind. When I closed my eyes, I was still tantalised, titillated by his croak. So, I closed my eyes. Morning light shuttled across the rusted tin and, almost—almost!—alchemically it seemed, the whole vessel was golden.
Written by blaberidae
Author's Note
Primary sources of inspiration:
1. Paulo Coelho's novel 'The Alchemist'
2. Robert Eggers' film 'The Lighthouse'
3. Margaret Atwood's speech 'Spotty-Handed Villainesses'
Primary sources of inspiration:
1. Paulo Coelho's novel 'The Alchemist'
2. Robert Eggers' film 'The Lighthouse'
3. Margaret Atwood's speech 'Spotty-Handed Villainesses'

I originally wrote for an assessment task, but I had too much fun with it.

Enjoy :-)
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