The Fishwife’s Last Voyage By Carly Berg

February 27, 2014 Comments Off on The Fishwife’s Last Voyage By Carly Berg

Maria slipped through soft sand and easy waves toward the row of tiki torches. Or she was dying, and blessed with this nighttime mirage to ease her passage. A circle surrounded the moon. From many years as a fisherman’s wife, she knew that halo went with tonight’s smooth sea.

Wading toward the light brought her ashore. The flames lined the front of a restaurant with tourist-pink walls and a thatched roof.

The late night rush was in full swing. Waitresses bustled by with seafood platters and fruity rum drinks. A band played old Beach Boys songs. Maria’s terror calmed. She snatched a white beach cover-up and sandals from the souvenir stand on her way to the restroom.

Dry in the new terry cloth dress, her focus turned to the delicious food aroma. A tall skeletal man with a pirate eye-patch waited at the reception stand. He said, “Dining alone, my little thief?”

Maria spluttered a half-answer before realizing the dreadful man was laughing at her. He said, “Don’t worry, dear. Come with me.”

He led her through the dining room to a small room behind the kitchen. A candlelit table for two awaited. “Sit here,” he said. “Don’t be afraid. My name is Thano, and I’m your host.”

She was ravenous, trying to think exhausted her.

Thano brought two plates of food and a dozen black roses.

She waved away the roses but tore into the fish without stopping for lemon or tartar sauce. “My, this is good. What is it, salmon?”

“Mermaid.”

“Funny. How about some more of that wine?”

Thano re-filled her glass with red wine. “Drink this, for it is your blood.”

Maria ignored her weird suitor. She wolfed down the rest of her fish, baked potato, ginger slaw, and hush puppies. The band from the dining room played a song about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

“You ate like it was your last supper. Did you have enough?”

“Yes, thank you.” Now she felt terribly tired, too tired to argue when Thano arose and held out his hand.

“Come,” he said.

He led her through another door to a lit deli case surrounded by candles and flowers. A young woman lay inside, long hair flowing down her naked torso. From the waist down, she was a giant fish with a few slices missing. Thano mumbled, “Eat this, for it is your flesh.”

Maria swayed. Thano caught her. “Don’t worry,” he said. “All is as it should be.”

He opened a door. Moonlight spilled in. “Don’t be afraid.” He put his bony arm around her. “Go now. To the true light this time.”

She was so very, very tired. The moon had a halo, the trip would be smooth. The light came closer, brighter, and then it went out.

© 2013 Carly Berg

Carly Berg is a dark cloud hovering above sunny Houston. Her stories appear in several dozen journals and anthologies, including PANK, Word Riot, Bartleby Snopes, and JMWW. She can be found here: http://www.carlyberg.com

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