The two that got away

“But it’s raining”
“Just another hour. He comes out in the rain.”
“I’m not sitting next to a pond in the rain for an hour.”
Julia got up, struggling to walk on the mud at the water’s edge with her heavy bag. The high heels didn’t help. She sliped her way back to the park. David watched her briefly, but the sounds of splashing water quickly brought his attention back to the pond. Julia shouted something before she was out of sight, but if David did hear, he didn’t let it distract him from his vigil.
Nothing happened for two hours.
David had started to reel in, wanting to check his bait. It was still quite far out, when he saw the wake. As he was pulling it in, something was chasing. Something big. Maybe the goldfish. He stood, adrenalin rushing through his already excited slender frame. He tried to steady his shaking rod, to keep the reel at a constant pace. Keeping it slow was the problem. Could he be about to catch it? He looked around the ponds edge. There was only one other fisherman, across on the far side. He seemed to be sleeping, slumped in his fishing chair. David wanted to shout, to wave his arms. “Hey, watch this! Watch what I’m about to do!” But then the bait was bitten. A single, strong, grasp and tug. It almost pulled the rod from his hands. This thing was big. People had been saying it was eating dogs, but no-one but David had thought those stories could possibly be true. He had a fight now, whatever had the bait was large. He struggled to control his rod. He had to stop reeling in, using both hands to pull on the rod, before straining to get a hand back to the reel winder. This was going to be a fight. He pulled the rod high, and then went back to winding. The closer he brought it to shore, the more the rod bent, a dangerous and angry ‘n’ shape over the water. Then it slackened, and David saw what he was up against, as the fish broke the surface, only part of the lamb’s leg visible out of its huge mouth. The Fish was a monster. A goldfish, but not really golden anymore, it was a deep, burnt orange. Its mouth was lined with deep green and black algae that made it look as if it was smiling through crooked teeth. Only the fins were recognizably goldfish, bright orange to golden yellow. Overall, the fish was about as large as a bulldog. Oddly squat, the only shape David could liken it to would be a puffer fish, or an angry suitcase. The fish hit the water. How long had this thing been in the pond? He pulled the rod tight again, desperate to get a hand free to wind, but not having the chance. Now it was close to shore, the fish was fighting madly. And it truth, David’s resolve had wavered after seeing the monster first hand. Doubt entered his head; maybe he wasn’t good enough to land this creature. Maybe no-one was. It wasn’t a fish anymore; it was some kind of God of the pond. A force of nature. The rod eased, and David focused on reeling. Damn it, he was going to get it to shore at least. He had it. Maybe the fish had weakened. Maybe it was toying with him, but David felt a surge of hope, and reeled madly, yanking the rod high as he did. The Goldfish flopped out into the shallows, only its belly wet, flapping madly. Even out of the water, it wasn’t letting go of the meat. David tried to get his catch net with his right foot.
“No, you know, I’ve had enough of this. You come home right now, or I’m leaving you.” Julia said. David slipped, falling hard with a sloochk into the mud. He held the rod aloft, his right foot kicked the catch net into the water. The fish flopped and jumped, swallowing the lamb’s leg. Now just the line came from its mouth. It was going to win.
“Little busy! Help me”
“No. We’ll be over. Do you understand? It’s just a fish, David. It’s…” she paused, looking at the scene before her. David thought she would see the monster, the huge, unusual giant goldfish, and understand, all that he had been talking about for moths, all of his hopes, they had come down to this, and now she would see, his struggle, his sacrifice, all worth it. But unlike in the fairy tales, his princess would be by his side, no mere damsel, she would help him to slay the beast. Then he would commit, they could marry, settle down, and he could tell his children – his grandchildren – the tale of how he caught the killer goldfish of Edgeley pond, before showing them the beast itself, mounted on a fine oak board above a roaring fireplace in the front room.
“No. damn it, is this ugly thing more important than me?” She ran towards it, and kicked it hard on the nose. She pulled her foot back to kick it again. David shouted, the goldfish jumped, the line in its mouth snapped, and Julia kicked out again. But she slipped as she did, and her heel swiped across the fish, cutting up from below its eye to the top of its head. Her shoe came off and spiraled through the air as blood gushed from the wound, and the eye rolled up, punctured and useless. But then the fish landed, jumped once, ate the shoe that had injured it, Jumped again, and was gone back to the deep water. “Nooo!” David yelled, still on his back. Julia struggled up, and kicked David with her now bare foot. “Those were Jimmy Choos, you IDIOT! We’re through. I’m sick of stuff like this, I’m sick of you!” She stomped off, as best she could with one shoe through water sodden soil. David lay there, in the cold mud, both of his dreams dead; the only though he had in his head was sadness at his failure to catch the fish, and a vague puzzlement over why Julia had been wearing a pair of shoes that belonged to some Jimmy guy.

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