by Naomi Cartwright
‘Plenty more fish in the sea’ he said. Only there aren’t. Plenty in fish tanks though, but they’re the aquatic equivalent of zoos. Rumour has it there are still a few species left hiding in the darkest depths of the ocean. Avoiding human contact, as wisely they should. But I’ve never seen any.
I keep my eyes peeled when I swim though, just in case. Gives me something to look at other than his body ahead of mine, cutting through the waves. A few times now I’ve thought I’ve spotted something, but it was just an empty shell tumbling over a barren seabed.
Mum swears she can remember a time when fishermen still had a reason for the job title and an occasional bite. Of course it was illegal by then and there were rules, regulations and fines. Aren’t there always. But if anything it made the booty that much more desirable. And every good black market economist knows that desirable equals expensive. Really expensive.
It’s not so bad these days cause my generation; we’ve never tasted fish so we don’t know what we’re missing. Most of us that is. Tom has. But when I asked him to describe it, he struggled. Tastes like the sea smells he’d said. Fleshy, but flakes in your mouth whereas meat melts. And the bones, they’re fine like hair. Those little buggers can kill a man if they stick in your throat he’d told me with a glint in his eye. Well there’s one less danger for the world to worry about I guess. Death by fish bone.
He’d looked every bit the seadog then. Windswept, sun lightened hair, tanned, weather-beaten skin. Old denim shirt rolled up to his elbows. Blue eyes crinkled with teasing that I struggled not to meet. I knew he was bad news, right from the get go and I tried, I really did, but I bet you already know what happened next.
It was after the riots that I finally gave in. These small factions started springing up everywhere demanding revenge and justice. Except terrifying OAP’s isn’t really either as far as I can see. Sure their generation was short-sighted and selfish, even when they knew it was starting to go down the pan, all they did was spend an incredible amount of time talking about it and the changes they could possibly make. But seems to me, being angry about the past doesn’t help you much when the present’s up to it’s eyeballs. Bigger fish to fry and all that. So sure I succumbed and all I’m saying is it was a scary, stressful time. Fight or flight. Gets all those primal instincts raging, so it’s really not entirely my fault.
It carried on for a bit. Secretly I’d started to wonder if I might be the one to tame him. But then when I next I saw him, he had this look in his eye. Apologetic, shameful and I knew. He could have picked a better cliché though. I suppose it’s just something you say though isn’t it? Even if fish are a long time extinct. Men are starting to head that way too now, if you believe the tabloid headlines that is. It’s certainly true that there are twice as many women as men these days. Twice as many reasons for them to have their pick, twice as many women to fall hook line and sinker for a chat up line in a time of crisis.
Naomi Cartwright lives in London, blogs here and is addicted to writing lists.