Empty Spaces Series ^N3

Jorge sat in the rowing boat surrounded by fish, flopping, and jumping trying to escape – their silver scales glistening in the sunlight. His thick woollen jumper hung off his skeletal frame and his stomach ached with pangs of hunger. The water gently lapped at the starboard bow as he lay back and tried to sleep.

As the sun reached its zenith, a woman slowly shuffled up to the boat and nestled a bag into his fishing net. She leaned over the edge of the boat, being careful not to disturb the now sleeping Jorge and listened intently. Her form cast a shadow, which set the fish off again, jumping, and twisting mid-air with renewed vigour.

Satisfied that he was breathing, she shuffled off, wrapping her shawl close around her. Despite the heat of the day, the warmth had departed her bones many years ago. She’d left the bag, knowing that Jorge would wake and see it before the sun cast its rays upon it.

As the water receded, Jorge slowly awoke and wiped the sun baked sweat out of the corners of his eyes and lips. He pulled himself up by holding on to the bench seat and spied the bag resting on the net. Slowly he climbed out of the boat and walked over to it, kicking bits of gravel in frustration as he went.

He opened the bag and found some stale bread, cheese, the usual, that could be spared. He carefully began unpacking the contents and laid it on the dusty ground. Under a small lettuce, to his surprise, lay a chocolate bar, wrapped up in bright colourful plastic. Jorge bellowed with laughter, so hard that he bent over in pain – the hunger pangs returning in force.

Leaving the food behind he strode to the side of the boat with the chocolate bar, unwrapped it, throwing its contents on the floor and picked up a flapping fish with his other hand. ‘Is this what you want? This is what you’re for isn’t it, you replicating bastards’ he cried as he shoved the wrapper into the mouth of the fish, its jaws working quickly to devour the plastic.

He threw the fish back in the boat and stared out at the sea, the calm waters rippled with the movement of the fish nipping at the surface. Jorge turned back to the stale food, which was all they could spare, and a tear ran down his cheek. His feet crunched on circuit boards and aluminium fish scales, as he walked away from the boat, devoid of fish, and into the empty sea.

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