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The Fisher's Husband

One morning each spring the fisher would pull her longest net from the livery and carry it to the dock to prepare for that year's deep sea hunt. Her husband, who loved her dearly, would wake to the whish of the net being dragged away and wring his hands tightly. He feared for her safety on the months-long journey and each year worried enough to add seven new gray hairs to his head.

After securing her ship she would return home and kiss him three times before leaving. And he would implore her, "Will you stay instead? I will draw you a warm bath. You can leave tomorrow." And, as always, she would dismiss him gently. No, my darling, no.

One year the fisher's husband tried a different approach to enticing his wife to stay. He persuaded the baker to cook ten pies, each pie with a different berry. And when she returned to kiss him the three times he threw open the kitchen door. "Ah. Smell that? These are the freshest pies, the warmest. Each is different. At least pick your favorite and when you are done, you can leave on your journey." His wife smiled. "I have ten seas to sail. Each is different." No, my darling, no.

Another year passed and the fisher's husband woke to the sound of the dragging net and assembled a different plan to entreat his wife. He rushed to his wife's ship and began telling her a story he composed as she worked. He told a story at turns fanciful and beautiful, a story about a queen and a forest filled with crows, a story which the fisher's husband filled with passions and intrigues. He stopped speaking just before the last scene and instead whispered hoarsely to his wife. "My voice is weakening," he slyly wheezed, "I should stop. We can finish this tomorrow and I can tell you a great ending." His wife smiled. "I will chase the tail of fishes and the tales of fishes and in turn they will supply a tasty ending." No, my darling, no.

The next year, the fisher's husband did not wait for the sound of the dragging net nor for his wife to prepare her ship. The night before she prepared to leave - his worry melted into resolve. He went to their livery and rubbed his legs smooth with cream. And removed his beard and mustache. And untied his nightcap to let loose the hair he'd been growing for a year so that it languored upon his back in long, silky ropes. He set across his neck a perfume and wrestled himself into his wife's sea-faring garb.

And embarked aboard her ship and set sail.

For seven months he traveled as his wife would and sailed as she had sailed and he fished as she would fish and endured as she had endured each year. He had many adventures but he ached at the thought of continuing each day without her. At the end of the hunt he raced home, sails as full as could be coaxed, to be home.

She waited at the dock. As he had waited each year before. He flung himself to the ground. "I have sailed for you. I have lived as you. I have seen your path, your sights, your life away from me. I understand why you have to leave and I love you no less. Will you stay with me until tomorrow?"

It is hoped by this narrator that there is no corner of the smile of a genuine love within which an untruth can hide. The fisher's wife smiled as if to say, "of course." Yes, my darling, yes.
posted at April 17, 2004, 1:53 AM