by Bob Clay
It was still alive!
Startled I took the paper bag from under my arm and gripped it like a golf club, but the fish wriggled again, so hard it made me jump. I’m all for a fresh fish for dinner, but this fresh?
The paper fell away and I gripped harder. I’d swear the fish looked at me, a look of desperation and fear. Then something incredible happened, from it’s sides, small hands emerged, tiny dark fingers that wrapped around mine as if trying to free itself from my death-grip. This was not a fish from some exotic ocean on the far side of the world. This was something from somewhere much, much further away.
Its eyes rolled toward me again and as well as the fear, I saw something else, something like pleading. I could feel the slender little fingers weakening, and its struggling becoming weaker.
I started running, down through alleyways, across an old allotment to burst out on the tow-path of a canal. I swung hard and high and threw the fish into the water. For a moment it lay on its side, and I felt a sudden deep sadness, but then it levelled up. From its head a large silvery red mane rose up, followed by a great feathery swirl that ran bright scarlet along the length of its back. I’m sure it looked at me for a second, then disappeared into the depths, a brilliant silvery red flash in the murky water.
Well my little friend, I don’t know what you are, where you came from, or how you’ll fare in the canal system of an industrial city. But it has to be better than a fishmonger’s slab, or a paper bag under my arm.
Bob Clay lives in Cornwall, and claims there is an element of truth to this story….