They caught her on the morning tide. Raised her up, heavy and frightened and squirming in their nets.
The moon had not even forfeited its dominion in the sky, and even some stars still flashed their dying light on the scene. Radiating the water on the shoreline, as they drew her in.
Not fish, not woman, but both. A legend in flesh and scale.
She sang no song. She was no siren. A throwback to the past, perhaps, and abstract and wretched creature.
But what a prize!
They subdued her easily. Her fear and her disorientation rendered her powerless.
“She will need water,” one said. As though they knew. As though they knew anything.
“An aquarium” agreed another. It was decided.
She had no words to argue, no language to share. She understood in some vague and primitive way, but no more than that. And she had no chance to focus, for her body was adjusting to the air and lack of water, reorienting itself, so she might survive.
Later she swam in the large prison they’d chosen for her. She bumped up against the glass walls, hoping always to find a way through. Just a small one, that was all she needed, but the walls were resolute. She knew her small expanse too quickly, and her sorrow bit deep within her confused mind. All she knew was she was caught.
She saw them come and go. Not the ones that brought her here, but others. Women, men, children, pointing. Flashing lights assailed her eyes, and she heard their mumbling voices, their laughter. She couldn’t understand.
Neither could they. None of the food they tried to give her could nourish her. And here there was no rest, no way to sleep. Only the endless ramming against walls that would not give.
On the seventh day she died. Of a broken heart perhaps, or just of loneliness and captivity. The patrons to the aquarium were not amused. The owners demanded their money back from the fishermen. It all ended almost as quickly as it began.
The fisherman trawled the seas thereafter, looking for her kind. A fruitless quest, she was the last, the last of them all.
And now she was gone.
(c) Helen M Valentina 2017