Here’s another installment of my book-in-progress, Grandma’s Masks. If you missed the previous installment on May 15th, click here to read it. Or click the Serial Fiction tab to read all the previous posts of Grandma’s Masks.
Trout made a sound that was a cross between waves lapping the bank and raindrops splattering on rocks. He shook his whole plump body, and a few rainbow scales drifted off and floated on top of the water. They were as big as lily pads.
“What did you say?” she asked, but Trout did not answer, only continued to stare. Maybe he had run out of people words. So she thought about the deep green patch of smooth water, with its mysterious shining surface so serene in the midst of the rushing river. What could it mean? What answer could be down there? Would she have to jump in to find out?
“Is it the answer where the earth and the stars and the sun and the moon came from?” she asked, hoping it was. That would be worth knowing, and she was fairly sure no one else did know it. Trout snorted, and bubbles popped on the surface of the water.
“Is it the answer to what will happen tomorrow, next month, or next year?” she tried. That might be even better. No one had been able to predict the future accurately yet. She could be the first. But Trout wiggled his top fin, and rolled his flat fishy eyes.
“Well, is it the answer to what happens after death?” she demanded. This time Trout made a sound like something swirling down a drain, glub blub burp. He slapped his tail on the water, drenching her in his excitement. His gills opened and shut rapidly.
“That’s the answer waiting for me?” squealed the young woman. “Really and truly, I would know what happens after death?” How wonderful it would be to know that, she thought. If people knew what happened after death, they would not be so afraid. I could make the fear of death disappear in the world. Everyone would hear of me. I would be the richest and most famous person of all time. Books would be written about me.
“How do I get there, to find the answer?” she asked Trout. In answer, Trout raised his fin and waved it in the air, and as if he had summoned it, a huge flying bug with blackish-purple wings flew over to the young woman and hovered in front of her. The bug, a sort of beetle, was so large she could sit upon it.
“This beetle will take you,” said Trout, “so you don’t have to go alone.”
“I’ve never ridden a beetle before,” she said, a little hesitantly.
“Something new to learn, then,” suggested Trout. “If you want the answer, go ahead and climb on.”
“Well, if you’re sure …”
“Trust me,” said Trout.
The young woman climbed onto the beetle’s back, and the beetle took off over the river, heading toward the smooth dark circle by the opposite bank.
They hadn’t gone far when Trout leaped into the air and swallowed them both.
“Ah, human with beetle sauce,” he said. “My favorite.”
And so it ends, or maybe it is just beginning.
jump deep into dark
swim with the fishes of night
follow the bubbles
Did the Trout play fair? Did she get an answer to her questions?