stories

The Fish - page 8

He continued, There wasn't anything we could do. I couldn't cross without you. Right? I mean, we're married and all. So we ought to die together. Come on. The young husband's tone was bitter, as if he were accusing her of dependency and babyishness but was completely unaware of those same qualities in what he was saying. I think we've about had it. The water's so fast and it's risen so high. We'll get washed away, for sure. Not to mention the fish. So we'll either get washed away, or drowned, or eaten alive by the fish. Who cares. Anyway, we'll be together. Right?
The wife started to cry. She tried to bury her head in her husband's chest. Just then a fish bumped its muzzle up against her heel.
She cried out, Ow! Oh, God! Carry me, will you? Carry me across to the other side! In order to keep from being bitten she was hopping from one foot to the other.
Let's go, the husband yelled. He grabbed her by the arm. He stepped into the water, looking grimly determined.
The wife followed him for a few steps, then hesitated. Aren't you going to carry me? she asked.
Nope. We'd both go under then. He pulled her arm as hard as he could.
Suddenly the water came up to their knees. And then to their waists. Fish bumped against their legs. The husband felt a sharp, stabbing pain, followed by a burning sensation, right by his knee. The wife seemed to have been bitten at the same time. She wrenched free from his grip and started slapping with that hand at the surface of the water.
Just then a swarm of even bigger fish swooped in. A few hurtled toward the woman's waist, and she toppled over onto her back. Her white skirt floated downriver near the surface, trailed by a clump of white bubbles. The husband was too caught up in his own pain to turn and look at her. He was trying to make it to the other side, and could think about nothing else. The water was up to his chest now. A shoal of fish was weighing him down. That same burning sensation broke out in about ten different parts of his body all at once; he tried to howl and wound up gulping in water through his nose and mouth. Could there be any more gruesome way to die? he wondered. But just then, mercifully, his consciousness flared up for a moment and died.