48th Thread: From fields to fishes
I was all alone. I had been told about the sea, but I never believed it. The sea goes on and on and on. Where I come from, the view is always masked by a wall, a tree, a hill. We could think the world was small. Water was only found at the bottom of a well or in a rut after the rain. I looked at this great surface, if it were a plain of land, it would grow corn, but you can’t even drink it. I did not know that the harvests of the sea are abundant and easy. If it hadn’t been for my rage to leave, I would have enjoyed the journey, the peasants who welcomed us by the road. With my people, babies were not always born from married women, but the new priest, gentle and fervent, had convinced everyone that the flesh is the devil’s sin. We walked for a long time, from early in the morning, until late at night. My father said nothing, his face dark and closed like a mussel.
Finally, we reached the sea on a moonless night. We did not see it, we just heard a strange roar. In the morning, after sleeping on the beach, my father said to me:
– See, down the coast, that village? We have family there. Ask, they’ll help you.
– You are not coming with me?
– No, I’m going home.
– We’re so close. Please come with me, I beg you. I don’t know what people are like here, I won’t be able to speak to them unless you accompany me.
– You go alone.
– They’ll think you sent me on the journey without an escort, like a vagabond.
– Your shame belongs to you. If you’re treated too badly, you can come home.
He left. He turned around once, I don’t know why. I never saw him again. Nor the baby. He stayed with my mother. I was all alone on the beach, like a fish a wave has cast off.
I felt so foresaken I lacked the courage to go the village. A man was landing his fishing boat. I didn’t see him right away, as my eyes were full of tears. He dragged his boat on the beach, the sun lighting him from behind. Silvery fish gleamed at the bottom, so numerous that they seemed to have been multiplied by a miracle. The eyes of man also had silver reflections. A sweetness softened his face, despite his square features. His legs were strong, his bare chest glistened with sweat. When he saw me, he didn’t say anything. He looked at me for a long time, as if I were a beautiful tree of an unknown species. Finally, he spoke, with his strange accent that would soon sound so natural:
– Are you hungry?
He made a fire on the beach and grilled some fish. We shared the food in silence. In a farm, you must work hard to eat, it isn’t like fishing that comes with little effort. As survival depends on the size of the plot, they lock women in, they veil them, they wall them up.
I had a little money rolled in a cloth which my mother had given me, and some embroidered linen. I did not tell your father about the baby. When he noticed my stretched nipples, he didn’t ask. It’s normal I tell you, as you should know the lot of women, but do not tell. That man became your father, I became his wife, and I am proud of him, even if his back is not very straight, because he fishes and he beats me sparingly and he is strong.