Sparrow looked down at the massive shark lying on the table. It reeked something terrible and she worried how that stench would intensify once she cut it open. She was at the Liminal stages of becoming a true fisherman, but she didn’t know if she could see it through.
Of course the older veterans had left her, the new girl, to do the dirty work. She was expected to chop the fish into manageable bits and place them in sealed containers to be left in the sea to keep cool. Cutting and chopping she knew well, but never with such cold flesh as this.
She grabbed a large cleaver from is notch in the large cutting block. It felt heavy in her hand. She watched the light bounce off the polished metal, thinking of the other blades she had held in her life before. They had not been tools, nor designed to aid the people. They had been weapons of death and nothing more. Was it really such a bad thing to get a little dirty so that the children of the village could eat?
But the smell was overpowering. She had grown up far from the sea, near mountains and forests. She had rarely eaten fish, let alone bathed in its particular aroma.
She found a moderately clean rag on a far shelf and tied it around her face. That solved one problem. But nothing was going to save her clothes.
She finally gave in and took to her work, making a big mess of it. From behind she could hear the laughter of the ship’s old captain.
“The point of the apron is to let the blood hit that and not the rest of the room,” the old man chuckled. “I dare say it’s the cleanest thing in here.”
Sparrow noticed that he walked around easily, without holding his nose. Maybe you got used to the smell, she wondered. She didn’t know if she wanted to get used to it.
The old man came to her and took the cleaver from her wet hands. He showed her where to slice, what to keep and what little bits to discard. She was astonished by his patience. Feeling out of place was not easy. Seeming to sense her thoughts, the old captain smiled warmly and spoke:
“Don’t worry. We’ll make a fisherman out of you yet.”
*A previous and related story featuring the character Sparrow can be found HERE.