The Dark Water, a Short Story

A rod was cast into the shimmering pool, which refracted the light of the lantern against the moist rocks overhead. To the other end, the boy could not see, for his lamp’s dim and orange light faded into blackness before the end of the water. With each attempt at a catch, the rod and hook blipped into the water, stirring forward an infinite number of rings which ran along the surface of the orange colored water.

The cave was a bustle of quiet noises. From the ceiling, drops of water would fall in tune against the mossy ground below, carving away for centuries at the stony floor. Noises from the above, cars dashing and going, people talking and laughing, were trapped in the cave, endlessly bouncing off the walls and water, going back and forward as any polite conversation. Little worms and beetles scurried along their highways and byways, getting to some place they seemed intent on going. Even the lantern made a low humming tune, the burning heat of its flame which flickered and danced in the cool air of the cave. The water was silent, however, for the fish did give away their sounds to the boy.

It was two hours in, at least it felt like that to the boy, for the sun’s light could not show beneath so many rocks and curves in the cave. He yawned which caused a hollow echo, and stretched his arms wide in eagerness for slumber. Still he had not caught a thing, and his candle began to burn low, yet now he saw something, shimmer against the water.

The boy stood straight, braced his feet against the rocks, and cast his hook once more. Silence for a few minutes, the conversation of echoes stopped and listened, the worms and beetles ceased and looked, the drops of water paused and glanced. From the water’s, a thing came crashing out as though the surface were ice, cracking it into foam which glistened against the lantern’s low light. The boy saw a fish, colored as a rainbow, with muscles strong as an ox as it jumped through the air, its coat shinning as a knight’s in a bright summer’s day. It was as an opera or performing dance, for it seemed rehearsed in its act. Again it crashed through the water as though it were hard concrete, taking the whole hook and line with it.

In an instant, the show was over. The fishing pole dipped into the water, leaving the boy empty handed with a look of astonishment. He took his lantern, sighed a heavy sigh, and headed for home. As he looked again into the cave, he could see the fish swimming beneath the dark waters. It was glowing, as though it was stolen some light from the lantern, in the way spring grass grows greenest and strongest in the sun.

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