A fish's bubbly life is saved by mythological allies!
|I am longing for Earl. His sweet, colorful markings and translucent, skin-like fins. His mouth opens and closes intermittently, as fish mouths do. What is it that makes them do that? Well, I suppose it doesn't matter. Earl does it, and that's all I care about. It's cute, really. Looks like he's trying to kiss something (or someone).
There he is, bright spot of the aquarium we call ocean. Coral, tons of coral, and weeds, rocks of all shapes and sizes--heart-shaped rocks, even. Sand, silt, sharks, octopus, and even other sea monsters. Like jellyfish. Have you ever seen a jellyfish? They are clear, so I don't blame anyone for not seeing them. They sting, too.
Hmm. What else? Well, there are many, many fish, of all spectacular types. Colorful fish, but none as beautiful and strikingly handsome as Earl, of course. But, some yellow fish, stripy fish, large fish, some tiny like a minnow. Then, there are the whales. Gigantic. Looming. Bigger than boats! There's the beluga, killer, and blue whales, and numerous others. And they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, like the rocks. But, there are no heart-shaped whales, as far as I can see.
Ah, the sea. This is no ordinary place. Or average, by any stretch of the imagination. This is the Australian Great Barrier Reef, home of Earl and his most lovely ladyfish, Martina.
"Earl, I found another one!" exclaims a beautiful and quick-moving Martina.
She swims through the murky waters, making her way to the odd-looking, wooden structure. It is stoically planted on the ocean floor-bed and is utterly vacant. Rare occasion, indeed. Every nook of the deep blue is usually occupied by some living creature, even if just by a school of harmless minnows.
Martina stops just outside the sunken pirate ship portal. Sensing the lack of life on the other side, she can feel her gills stand up a bit.
She calls out to Earl again, but gets no response. He was just behind me, she thinks, eyes fixed, unblinking, on the round object just inside the portal.
There is a pitiful darkness about this mysterious section of the blue. Untouched for a long time, it is. Rotting. If Martina is quiet and still, she may hear a light creaking. Could it be moaning? Fish imagination has usurped reality.
"I hope I don't regret this," Martina sputters. Aaggh, she cries out, as she propels herself courageously inside--
And emerges seconds later with the treasure perched firmly between her fish lips. Martina wastes no time returning to their abode, booty in tow. She's concerned about Earl. The two had already agreed to meet at home if they lost one another on their day trip.
Miles, upon miles, Martina presses forward. Energy consuming effort, it is. Indeed! The embossed golden coin seems to gain weight with each flap of her tail. She is, after all, a petite lady, and usually an elegant swimmer. Now, however, she scoots herself forth in an imprecise and cumbersome show. Finally, at the humble fish home, she arrives. Half sinking, Martina allows her fish lips to go limp.
Plop, dink, dink, dink.
And, at that, Martina drifts to a slumber deep and deserved.
Earl is not far behind his ladylove. When he realizes he has lost her, he promptly gathers the deep blue seaweed he has discovered and heads home. After all, seaweed is Martina's favorite meal. And this is special, the deep blue variety.
Along his voyage, Earl passes his fish friend, Hector, who is famous in all the blue. Even creatures passing through sometimes mention his name. They are, of course, referring to his keen talent for locating the finest, most remote delicacies.
Earl carefully places his deep blue seaweed on the ocean floor, and swims up to meet him.
"My friend, Earl! Why where is your crown, good sir?" Hector greets.
"Good to see you, Hector. It has been too long," Earl humbly replies.
"True. Far too long. Well, your crown, friend. Has it been lost?" Hector queries.
"Ah, my hat. I left it at home, so I would not lose it. You see, I was searching for deep blue seaweed," Earl smiles, shyly.
"Ha-ha! And?" Hector presses. His eyes drop to the ocean floor, where he spies Earl's goods. "I see you've been very successful! And without my help, no less. Earl, my dear friend, before you know it, we will work together. Joint knowledge and skills are far better than individual--two fish heads are better than one! If we just went into business--"
"Hector, I am honored," Earl gently interrupts. "Your abilities are one of a kind. I will consider your offer, but have to get going. Martina is waiting."
Earl's face gives away his concern.
"Alright, then, Earl, great seeing you. Please do give my regards to your lady," Hector replies, noting Earl's worry.
With that, Earl quickly scoops up the seaweed, and hurries for home.
And so it goes. The Great Barrier Reef is alive and well, teeming with activity (and with wonderful things to eat). But where does the story go from here? What on Earth is to come?
Cool, smooth, and soothing. Pebbles like gems are strewn about. Fine sediment, diamond dust, over nearly every surface, as though fairy creatures had come to kiss the place with their magic. Electric eels, Christmas tree lights of the blue, flow nearby, flickering their rays that bounce off the decor. Private alcove, replete with a safe sleeping area for quiet retreat, and a small shelter for snacks--this, ah yes, this is the dwelling of Earl and Martina.
Can you see it? It's a small area, not grand at all. And modest, in its furnishings, and upkeep, too. These homeowners, fish they are, appreciate simple living--and the joy of a good nap. With a snack.
Earl. Martina. They, so in love, meet together, once again. Martina's eyes flutter, as does her heart, when in Earl's presence. Oh, how he makes me feel so warm inside, she thinks. Cool gills, warm heart. Goodness, goodness, all around. Martina's tail swishes side to side. He makes her so happy, she cannot be still. Movement is inspired, and Martina's whole fish body is in action, inside and outside. Her fish eyelids bat, as her gaze meets his. She purses her fish lips, swishes her tail a bit more, and enjoys the sensation of warmth in her heart. Until she can barely take it any longer (fewer than a few seconds!) Martina rushes to Earl, and plants a thoroughly sweet kiss on his fish lips.
As she nuzzles him, silently, Earl's worry melts away. There she is, he sighs. My love. Safe at home, beautiful as ever. Her shiny black fins reflect light, Earl sees, as he admires Martina. Oh, how wonderful she makes me feel, he thinks.
I can almost hear my heart sing.
He is giddy in her presence, and his colors seem to shine even more brightly, too. Basking in her affection, Earl cannot be happier. Martina is the only fish in the deep blue that makes Earl's heart leap into song, and the single fish whose beauty attracts him so.
The only thing holding him back, is a feeling of--gasp!
What is that sensation?
It's sharp! Ouch, ouchy. Earl is suddenly beset by a pain in his belly. Oh, it's such a stabbing pain that he almost sees stars.
Martina stops her nuzzling. Very concerned she looks Earl over, and feels helpless. What to do? She thinks. Here, I know. Martina ushers him over to the napping area to give him a fish physical. Open one eye, Earl. Now close that one, open the the other. Can you swish your tail slow? Medium? Fast? Blink three times. Flap your caudal fin. Okay, all is looking pretty decent, she says. But she wonders, what could it be?
"Martina, it's getting better. Ah, it's going away," Earl sighs with huge relief. He is puzzled. Was it the distance he traveled? His nerves? Had he munched on some bad seaweed? Or algae, maybe it was the algae he had for breakfast?
"Earl, are you certain? You look like you've seen the face of a ghost," she says softly, her words almost trailing off. Martina is aware that he is as shaken by the attack as she is.
"The face of a ghost? Oh, my love, I'm fine, really. I do not know why, but as quickly as it came on, it is gone. I do feel tired from it, though. I must rest, Martina," he says solemnly.
So, Earl sleeps. And sleeps. He continues to sleep for hours upon hours. Martina sees his gills fluttering in and out. She watches him rest, and wonders so many things. Do I wake him? What is happening? Should I find our master of fish physicals, the great Cynthia MFP? Martina's thoughts carry on in this manner until she hears a slight grumble, her tummy, and realizes that she has not eaten. She dips into the reserve of delectable blue seaweed, and barely tastes it as it goes in. As she finishes her meal, she thinks she hears in the distance someone calling her name. It's a faint voice, weak sounding. Martina dismisses it, feeling that she must be awfully tired. Ah well, I suppose I could go for a nap, like--
"Martina," comes the voice, this time with slightly greater intensity. Startled, she realizes that the voice is Earl's. Dismayed, she swims just around to the darker napping cove, and finds her love, awake, and in pain.
"Martina, my love, please forgive. I am not well," Earl whispers. Sincere and honest, as he always the gentlefish is, blinking at Martina, he says, "My dear, dear love, Martina, I may not have much time left, here on Earth, in the deep blue." His eyes close.
Her light goes out. She feels her heart break into pieces, as never before has she felt such sadness there. Earl her wonderful, colorful, and sweet love. Anywhere in the great deep blue, one may ask 'What is the greatest love of all this?' and any living creature would say, 'That of lady Martina and King Earl. Find them, and you will know.'
Fish visit from all over the blue, swimming from places near and far to wish Earl well. Cynthia MFP arrives promptly, and upon seeing his condition begins her work immediately.
A potion of yellow seaweed, a tincture of a little this and a bit of that. Cynthia administers each with great care, and then wallops Earl in the head with her tail.
Martina gasps, and the crowd is stunned. Cynthia says, "My fellows, be not alarmed. This course of fish treatment is very effective, very effective indeed. You see, the yellow potion instills good energy, the tincture gives a lengthy taste of bitter, which should open his eyes wide, and the giant and swift tail-kick to his face will re-ignite his passion for swimming. Just wait, my fish friends. Give it some time."
Earl's fish consciousness draws to a close, and his mind's eye begins to see. A face, unlike any before, appears before him.
There are large, black eyes, flaring nostrils, and in between snorts, a pink tongue peeks out from the mouth. Surrounding this large, caramel-hued and hairy head, Earl sees a black nothingness dotted with twinkling stars.
"Turn to the side!" comes a deep and resounding command.
The face belongs, of course, to a two-humped camel. And, as the camel follows the command, Earl spies a well-decorated fish nestled between this camel's humps.
"Are you--are you an angel fish?" Earl stammers.
"What makes you ask, Earl?" queries the mysterious, beautifully detailed, and curiously thin fish on the double-humped camel.
"You, well--I--and your voice---it's..." Earl ekes out, confusedly. He is perplexed.
"Earl, here I am, and for a purpose. Listen carefully, please."
The camel looks over, and watches Earl. He is still nodding. The camel snorts.
"Eyes ahead!" the mystery fish bellows.
The camel resumes his sideways stance.
"Everything I say, Earl, will come but once. I am the Fisher King from a planet far away, where I once ruled the seas. My tail went limp, and I could no longer maneuver on my own. My fish went awry, the water all but dried up, and now, now I ride this two-humped camel! In a wasteland. But, Earl, my friend, I digress. I am on a mission of sorts. My tail has failed me. I see your health is failing you."
Earl nods some more.
"Exactly. You must return to your fish. It is not your time, my good sir. Upon re-arrival, your illness will be naught but a distant memory. Your fish will rejoice. And, you will have a gift, something you can do that no other fish can do. A special power, Earl. Imagine it, and you will know what to do."
The camel stomps his leg, and snorts again.
"It is nearly time for me to go," the Fisher King says.
"But above all," he continues, "the Ladyfish Martina--she will encounter a perilous situation. You must..."
The Fisher King goes silent.
Earl nearly shouts at him, "I must what? What must I do?"
The black space with stars envelops the camel with the Fisher King.
"He's coming around," Cynthia says gently.
"My love, can you hear me?" It is the sweet voice of Martina.
Earl opens his eyes.
"Oh my. Martina, give me a kiss. I am recovered."
Hooray! Martina wiggles her tail and plants a fat kiss on Earl.
Friends greet him, one by one, and each takes time to tell him in their own way how much he means to them.
"You are an inspiration!"
"I could not be more relieved!"
"Thank good fortune, dear friend. It's so wonderful to see you up and about!"
After the myriad fish move through in an orderly fashion, and most have dispersed having said their peace, one last friend remains. It is Hector, who says, "Earl, good sir. I am sad to admit that I had lost hope in your return. My friend, I, I, I... I thought you were a goner. Earl, I'm so ashamed. How could I have doubted you? I, I'm, oh Earl, I'm just so glad you are here!" He is choking up.
Touched by Hector's authentic display of emotion, Earl assures him that all is well, and he is as good a fish friend as any could hope to have.
Cynthia gives Earl specific instructions. He is to take sleep and rest in abundance, avoid lengthy day trips, and eat a simple diet of straight algae. "And I will check back with you in a short time. Take care," she adds as she exits their cozy cove, tincture bag in tow.
"Well, my love, shall we rest?" Martina asks with a tiny smile on her face.
Earl's mind harkens back to his visit with the Fisher King. Recovery, a special ability, a danger...
Nodding his head, Earl smiles a tiny smile, too, and says, "Yes, Martina. My love, that sounds just like what the doctor ordered."
"Earl?" Martina asks.
"Yes, dear?" Earl replies.
"That is what the doctor ordered!" she laughs.
One last bit before this tale winds down.
"Martina, have you seen my crown?"