I’ve been fishing since I was a little boy. I always loved the salty smell of the sea in my nose, the cold air of the ocean wrapping me in nature’s soft touch. That feeling of pride when I’d show Mama and Pa my catchings.
I never went to school when I was a baby cause’ Pa and Mama didn’t have enough money for Ben and I’s education. Pa told us that the only education we need is the way of the land. How to chop down wood, grow your crops right, take care of a family...
And fishing. Especially fishing.
Since Mama, Pa, and Ben were physically Ill, I brought home the money since I was a kid. I’d go out to sea in my boat, (My most prized possession) and fish all day. Sometimes I’d get so much fish I wouldn’t know what to do with it, sometimes I’d break into tears because I wouldn’t get enough for the whole family.
I never minded it. Though sometimes supporting my family could be stressful, I love my mama no matter what. She’s a sweet woman on the heavier side. She thanked me every day for the fish I caught and the money I brought home.
She’s a storyteller. She has a weird infatuation with mermaids and mermen. She told me since I was a baby that they were real, that she saw them with her own two eyes. The reason why we got the house right in front of the ocean was because of her love for the sea, even though she could never venture outside. She was too ill and overweight for her own good, but she pacts a lot of love.
At the time we were runnin’ out of money. I was working extra hours out on the ocean to get some sort of catch. Nothing was biting, the days were getting hotter. Ben offered to come out to sea to help me, but of course, I refused. He had a bad back.
″PETER! I’M GONNA SELL THAT BOAT OF YOURS IF YOU DON’T BRING IN SOME MONEY, YA HEAR?″ My mother shouted from her room. My eyes immediately widened at her words. I could still feel my heart crashing against my chest, the tears already threatening to pour down my face. Looking back on it, it’s kind of silly how I was so attached to a boat... but it’s really all I had at the time.
″Mama, I’m sorry... I’m gonna go out today, I promise.″ I reassured her as I walked into her room. She was lying carelessly on the bed with sweat beating down her forehead, her brown hair stuck to her forehead.
″You best catch somethin’ today, boy... your father keeps usin’ all the money on that stupid alcohol he likes to buy. I’m tryin’ to make him stop, but he doesn’t wanna listen to me.″ She muttered, waving a fan in front of her face. I frowned at her words, looking down at the ground. I didn’t want to meet her eyes.
″I’m trying, mama. The fish haven’t been biting lately.″ I admitted. She let out a deep sigh at my words, attempting to pull herself up in the bed. She couldn’t.
″Maybe the mermaids are fishin’ themselves, Peter.″ She said to me. I scoffed at her words, feeling the smile linger onto my lips. If only it were that easy.
″I hope so, mama. Ben keeps complaining his tummy hurts, I know he’s hungry...″ I said in almost a whisper.
″He’s a big boy, Peter. Your big brother is gonna be just fine, I’m gonna be just fine. You just go fishin’ now, alright? Don’t stress about it. Mama loves you, Peter.″ she said.
″I love you too, mama.″
I went out on the sea that day with determination. Ben offered to come to help me, but of course, I refused as usual. I knew that he was just gonna sit on the floor and complain about his back hurting... which I knew he couldn’t help.
I needed to catch something that day. I was desperate... My family needed food. I usually sell the fish to the market for some money, but we truly were out of food. I believed I was the master of the ocean, nobody was going to get in my way of catching fish! The ocean cowers in fear of my boat and I! Nobody will stop us!
I threw out that net like it was nothing. Of course, I felt it in my arms in the morning, but the adrenaline that was running through my veins overpowered my thoughts. My mama was going to be proud of me today, my Pa too. I knew it.
What I caught that day was something that I didn’t expect. Something that changed my life forever.