019. The Fisherman and His Wife

by crfricke

*This post is part of A Grimm Project, a series of short fiction pieces using each of the Brothers Grimms’ Nursery and Household Tales as writing prompts. For more information about the project, click here. For more about the story which inspired this freewrite, click here.*

When Elerbon returned to the sea, he noticed that the long streak of blood still floated in the clear water. He sat on a rock, crossing his legs beneath him, and watched as the ribbon of red shimmered in the calm water, shuddering as the seawater lapped and bobbed in the pool.

He did not know how to call the fish, but was certain — and this made him sad — that the fish would appear nonetheless. Emilie had not always been so unhappy as to send him clamoring for wish-granting fish. Before their marriage, she had danced when the travelers played mountain songs in the pub, and this had made her happy enough to last for weeks. And even after they had exchanged vows, a festival with fresh fruit vendors selling oranges had lifted her spirits enough carry her smiles well into several months. A sunny day and the drifting sound of a neighbor child singing her favorite song gave Elerbon days of peace from Emilie, which he cherished more and more as they grew older. It was not until the same song only afforded her three minutes of happiness, which Elerbon felt passing away from them like spent coins at the grocer, that he knew she’d become like so many other women — mysteriously unhappy. Her face changed, and she laughed very little, but still he loved her. What else could he do?

The streak of blood had only just dissipated in the water. A tiny white crab the size of Elerbon’s fingernail was climbing bravely up the underside of a rock, then faltered and fell with a plop into the growing foam. Elerbon sighed. A sea wind met his sigh with salt and chill, and Elerbon stood. The fish was swimming toward him.

Cate Fricke
May 2014

Illustration by Kay Nielsen

Illustration by Kay Nielsen