(written 10/24/91; Webbed 10/12/95)

Two fishers went out on a stormy sea, a sea that rolled and foamed and rumbled, shivering into loud breakers as it tumbled through the rocks on the shore of Brinytown. The two were named Jock and Stella, and they were lovers—or had been long ago, when both were young. They’d known the tides of love together, aye, and of the sea; and they’d grown from babes to adults together by the sea’s side, the taste of salt spray on their lips with every breath and every sigh. And they’d grown older together as well, in the village of their ancestors, and fished together day by day as the wind and weather wore lines in their brown faces.

They’d borne no children, had Jock and Stella, though they’d seen their friends’ children leave cradles, walk, go to sea, and either drown or raise children of their own. Or sometimes both. But the lack of progeny bothered them not at all, for, as Stella was wont to say, “One day we’ll go to sea for fish and not come back; and when the fish have taken us at last, what would the wee bairns do for parents?” And so day by day the two took their little boat out into the smell of salt and fish, the shrieks of gulls, the toss and curl of waves and wind.


This was simply a ten-minute timed-writing exercise—put pen to paper and don’t stop writing for ten minutes no matter what. It started, I believe, with a line from a Heather Rose Jones song that goes something like “Three fishers went out on a stormy sea,” but it has nothing to do with the song otherwise.

As with the other exercises I’m publishing here, this isn’t intended to be a complete story and hasn’t been revised at all (even for spelling or grammar) since writing. Though I edited it while I was originally writing it—crossing out phrases, making false starts, and so on.