Fishermen

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We take them out of the cages after the moon rises, when the silver light falls on the waves. Faeries. They flutter out of the boat, skimming the water, touching it with their tiny hands and laughing in voices that sound like the whisper of wind through willow leaves. They love the sea. The waves. The ocean. They dip their feet in the salt water and squeal, shouting, and their silvery blue lights, reflections of the moon, shine on the water.

Then the fish come.

They leap from the water, gaping mouths open wide to swallow the faeries whole. They miss, of course. They always miss. And they always come. But to the faeries it’s a great game, a test of their transparent little wings. A contest to see how close they can come to death and still live.

They play it every night.

The water is boiling, silver white scales flashing in the deeps. My father is already bailing, using a bucket to scoop the fish from the water into the boat. I help, clubbing them over the head and dropping them into the nets. Minutes later the shoal is gone, and the faeries return to us, giggling in their stupid little voices, their fun had, their job done. Tomorrow the fish will be sold at market, and my father will buy them an apple as a prize for how well they’ve done, or maybe an orange or a peach, if there’s any to be had. But for tonight, the game is their prize, and they return to the cages happily. Until the next moonrise.

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