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Along the Sea

I’ve lived all my life along the sea, my parents before me, and theirs before them, as far back as anyone can remember. I’ve seen everything that could ever be seen along our stretch of shore. Storms and sun, dry sand and high water, good years and bad for filling our nets, if never so bad as elsewhere. Shipwrecks, certainly. When fishing was bad we’d lure ships onto the reef. That’s where the silk carpet you’re laying on came from. The sailors never lasted long, but their cargos kept us comfortable.

There have only ever been the four families living here, though sometimes a young man drawn to the sea marries in. Other fisherfolk have moved in, hoping to share our bounty, but they don’t last long. Their boats sink, their women ail, they see great worms along the shore and flee.

But you, you’ve come to build a lighthouse to keep ships safe. And you brought your wife. Young love is so sweet. Excuse me while I go check on her. It’s probably time for more broth. Expectant mothers are prone to dehydration. What’s that? I can’t make any words out through the gag, but I know what you’re asking, what they always ask.

You’re not the father.

The worms herd the fish into our nets. We find them women. Sometimes men, that’s almost as good, but there was only the one egg this time so we didn’t need you.

Oh, don’t fuss so much. We take very good care of them, right up until the eggs hatch.