Once upon a time there was a man who was a man, but more and more often a heart carried about by a body. You could tell by his eyes. At times his heart leaked out through them, and when it did, the blaze of light left no doubt. On the day of this story, the man took his fishing boat out on the lake. He needed big bodies of water to soothe him, and though his roots whispered to him of south Florida, he stayed.
The lake, as all lakes are, was usually a lake, but on this day it was tremulous glass. Glass that shook and slipped on itself, revealing the lake’s insides green and brown, woven with ripples of sunlight. He didn’t notice the underwater world unfurling below him as he opened up the motor and soared out. His mind was on the little bit of smoke curling around the motor, speed, and barely hidden thoughts of trouble. His heart was beaming radiant through the cracks in his eyes and seeing the water for what it was.
The boat swung out in a soaring arc across the lake, and from the midpoint, sighted a willow on the far shore and focused.
The boat lifted and fell, lifted and fell under the willow that stretched out past the shore, lolling its wild head in the wind. Grey rocks lay at the tree’s base. They called for human hands to stroke them, pick them up, and feel them pulled across cheeks, smooth and elemental to the land. He reached his hands up and, with a movement uncharacteristic to his eyes, tied the boat to a branch with hurried yanks. The sun poured golden though the long leaves of the willow and filtered down to the bottom, caressing the rocks and whatever was there.
He hopped on a thick trunk of the willow and walked to shore. As he balanced in the beauty tumbling all about him, his eye was caught, or perhaps his heart flung his head to the side, and he saw a black fish glistening on the rocks. He walked over to the fish moving with futile breath. Gently, and with utter lack of impatience, he slipped his hands under the heavy body and eased it into the water. Did heaven dip through earth right then? Was it drawn by the love that flooded through his hands into the fish? I think so. The tail of the fish flicked fast through the water and she was gone.
He glanced at the waves lapping the shore, the soft wet spot where the fish had laid, and waded back to the boat. He started the engine with a click and nosed out from under the arms of the willow. Suddenly the fish was back, swimming close to the boat. Her head was above water and her gills fluttered with the alien breath. Her eyes bulged hugely at him, her lips kissing and sucking the line between water and air.
H had no thought: there was just the fish and the waves cresting silently over her back, washing down in rivulets of silver. She looked at him with eyes that perceived from the same bundles of nerves and snapping electricity as he. Two souls sought a toehold on form, and finding it they jumped, scaling the enormous cleft in evolution. Something brushed together brief and deep, in a way that does not give a second glance to time.
She swam up to the boat and he reached down stroked her head with fingers and palms. She leaned in and rested.
And so they stayed. She circling the boat, gazing at him with crazy fish eyes and kissing big fish-lip kisses, and he speaking softly to her about anything that was there. Time passed, towering clouds sailed before the sun, and the man, who was certainly a man, became a little scared as his mind looked in on the scene. With a curl of wrist he set for the far shore. The fish kept up, flexing her thick tail in powerful pumps. Parting the water’s surface for one last look, her heart shifted and settled in perfect line with the boat, and he was gone.