A to Z 2017–K is for Kayak

And now for something completely different…

K is for Kayak

Chigan ran, his kayak balanced on his shoulders. He knew if Menah found him before he was on the water, he would be put to work felling trees or digging holes.

On a day with the air this clear and the sky this blue he wanted to earn his sweat on the water. Not digging for roots.

If he could have gathered berries it might be different. But there were no berries to be found. Not this year.

Fish would be welcome, though. He had spear and sack with him and hoped to put them to good use. But even if he failed at least he’d fail doing something he loved.

The water’s edge was farther than it should be. It was the same everywhere—little rain for long seasons. He left the dry grasses of the banks far behind and had to wade through sticky mud to get afloat. It smelled like a rotten toad. Menah would not approve, but Menah was not here.

In no time he was in his kayak, rowing hard toward deep water and a small island, Big Green Rock, he knew was good for fishing. Until he reached it, he enjoyed the sun warming his skin and the stretch and pull of muscles in his shoulders, back, and arms.

It was still early, well before high sun, when he approached Big Green Rock. He pulled his boat onto it’s graveled beach and quickly crossed the dozen paces across a small patch of grass to it’s opposite face where an overhang created a perfect hidden trove of trout and bass.

Taking a short spear in hand, he lay on his belly to peer down into the water. Warm, brown eyes stared back up at him, surrounded by a startled face.

Chigan scrambled backwards, shouting curses as his spear plopped into the water below. Before he could process what he’d just seen, before he could settle his racing heartbeat, Those brown eyes peeked up over the edge of the rock.

“I think you dropped this.”

His spear landed, point-first, in the grass, causing him to cry out again. “Don’t do that! Are you trying to kill me? Stupid girl!”

“If I wanted to kill you, you would know it, stupid boy.” He couldn’t see a face, but the voice definitely held a smile. “Because you would already be dead.”

Concerned that it might be true, he changed the subject. “What are you doing, hiding there. Come out—show yourself!”

“I was not hiding. I was swimming. You are the one who came to disturb me.”

“You’re right,” Chigan conceded, taking a deep breath. “Will you come out now? Let me apologize properly. Menah taught me better manners.”

“I… I can’t,” said the girl, her eyes dipping a little lower so only her forehead and her glossy black hair showed.

“Why not?” Chigan was suddenly curious. Perhaps she wore only her skin. He moved on hands and feet closer to the edge.

“Because,” she said, “I haven’t learned how to change yet and I can’t walk on land with this tail.”

Her laughter echoed as he heard a splash. Chigan stared open-mouthed as he watched her swim away, the bronze of her tail splashing behind her.

A fish girl? Menah would never believe him. He sighed. Now he would need to find another place to fish—no doubt he would catch none here today.

“Stupid girl,” he said as he walked back to his kayak. “I hope I see her again.”

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