Friday, 1 June 2012

#FridayFlash - The Fishwives

The fishwives stand in a line along the sea wall, their arms outstretched as if they’d hold back the tide. They wear near-identical clothing, choosing the drab colours of those who dwell in the Underground City. The only difference between them is within the lace motifs of their mud brown shawls, motifs which mirror the intricate cables of their clans.

An excited chatter begins, tearing along the line. Movement is sighted at the bottleneck into the bay - their husbands return. The sea boils and churns, waves parting to spit forth the menfolk. Their grey scales gleam in the fading light; fins and gills put the husbands halfway between fish and men. Webbed hands clutch treasures of the deep, and muscular arms throw the catch of the day to the fishwives.

Some women cram baskets with fish and crabs, others seize precious stones and assorted detritus, the spoils of many shipwrecks beyond the bay. Their hauls depleted, the men turn and dive beyond the waves. They flick powerful tails in goodbye as they return to the depths.

The fishwives load the baskets onto carts, and haul them towards the gaping tunnels at the foot of the cliffs. Bereft of their husbands but laden with bounty, they begin the slow trudge back towards the Underground City. Their goods will soon appear in the markets and junk shops, their pockets lined with copper.

* * *

This story is set in the same universe as my laryngitis-inspired tale, Vault of Lost Voices.

22 comments:

Tony Noland said...

Such long stretches of separation... it's a wonder any of them stay married. Or what "married" means here.

Larry Kollar said...

Love the way you inverted the mermaid trope here!

mazzz_in_Leeds said...

A very strange predicament these husbands and wives are in!
And in answer to your question on my own blog - I hope I am back to stay, but it is muse dependant! the little minx deserted me :-\

John Wiswell said...

I didn't think about the Mermaid tropes until I read the comments. Just seemed like a description of people's livelihoods, totally plausible.

Daezarkian13 said...

Imaginative as ever. I love your sense of setting and detail. Amazing as always, Icy!

Tim VanSant Writes said...

For some reason I thought first of the world in your story "Talent Show" with the siren, but both are interesting places.

Natalie Bowers said...

Fascinating!

Icy Sedgwick said...

Tony - I think they've got a different concept of it.

Larry - Well I like to do things a little differently.

Maria - But it's one they benefit from!

John - Plausible? Men with gills? Well it works for them :)

Steven - Thanks!

Tim - Yeah, they could be very similar.

Natalie - Thanks!

CharlotteC said...

I could almost smell the salt Water

daniellelapaglia said...

I'm glad to see you're expanding that world a bit. This was a nice addition. Looking forward to more.

Laurita said...

The best kind of husband - one who brings you stuff then takes off.

Great story, Icy. Superb description.

inkyheels said...

Such an interesting brief glimpse. I love the way you described things. I can picture the fishwives and their husbands and the other details that make the story textured and layered.

Aidan Fritz said...

There is something in the water this week. I like the sense of loneliness that pervades this, these woman who aren't alone, but have their husbands who are forever separated from them.

Helen said...

I loved the idea of the mermen and the women who waited for them. There is a degree of separation felt, a sort of courage needed in their survival and their emotions.

Peter Newman said...

This is really visual this week. I like the image of the women waiting and the play on 'fishwives'.

Nice to have another piece of the jigsaw.

flyingscribbler said...

The way you have anchored (sorry) this story in our reality by having the fishwives wear the intricate patterns in the lace and cable knit that real fishermen's wives would have done works very well and brings the story closer to the reader. This is a much ethereal piece than you often write, but no less imaginative and enjoyable.

Steve Green said...

An odd concept here Icy, interesting though, a working relationship between humankind and mermen.

theothersideofdeanna said...

I can feel this dark, ominous cloud hovering over the fishwives, (hope that was intended). Intriguing story Icy!

Emilia Quill said...

I also though about the siren in Talent Show, and the mermaid from Lost at Sea (first flash of yours I read).

I love the 'new use' of the word fishwife. They're women who are married to men who are half fish.

modernscheherzade said...

Must be a strain on the 'marriages' - this brief giving and taking. 'Fishwives' takes on a whole other meaning in this. This world is intriguing.

Stephen said...

Hi Icy -- I really liked this. Had a quality where I wanted to read the rest of the book...

So, uh, if you'd like to get on that? :)

Fish husbands dredging the deeps is a fine image, as is that line of fish wives -- literally, fishwives.

St.

Fayne Riverdale said...

The mermen feel like actual sea dwellers, with domestic lives similar to other creatures of the deep. They are more fish and less man!

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