The Fish who Lived on the Hill

Once there was a fish who lived at the top of a hill. Not like in a pond, or in a tiny glass bowl or anything, but just in a small shack right outside of town. Whenever people would go over, the fish would just be laying on a chair with a newspaper open, or at the kitchen table next to a bowl of soup, or in front of a sink full of dishes with fresh suds in the water. One time, a guy even went over late at night and peeked through the windows, and he swore he saw the fish laying in a big queen sized bed with the sheets pulled up to its gills. No one ever saw it move, but even if you went over there like 12 times in the same day (which a few people actually did), it was never in the same position twice. As far as anyone could tell, no one else lived in the house, even though there was a large vegetable garden and some flower beds outside that were neatly tended.

The fish never hurt anyone or did anything dangerous, but it was very disconcerting, and although it seemed to have no special powers or abilities (other than being able to survive out of water), everyone assumed it had to be magical in some way, so they decided to hire some wizards to come to the village and check it out.

Only one wizard answered the ad though. Her name was Dorflorkin, and she was renowned for her uncanny ability to figure shit out, no matter how weird it was. Right away, when she got to the village, she marched up the hill and went straight into the fish’s house. There it sat on the couch with some knitting needles and yarn beside it. Of course she cast Detect Magic right off the bat, but to her surprise, the results came back negative. She eyed the fish as if to say, “I know you’re up to something, and I’m about to find out what the fuck it is.” She pulled up an ottoman, looked it right in its glassy eyes, and made herself comfortable. There they sat, wizard and fish, for hours that turned into days, and days that turned into weeks. Dorflorkin never saw the fish move, but every time she got up to pee or make herself a sandwich, she noticed a little bit more of the knitting got done.

Finally, after almost two months, she was so frustrated and, to be honest, bored that she considered casting Fireball and just burning the whole shack and the stupid fish to the ground. She got up, collected her few belongings, and went to head back to town where she planned to tell the villagers that she had failed for the first time in her career.

Right as she was about to close the door behind her, she looked back at the fish one last time, and there, sitting right next to it, was the most beautifully knitted pair of socks she had ever seen. They looked so cozy and warm, and it was such a chilly Autumn night, that she couldn’t help but try them on. They were by far the softest and most comfortable thing she had ever worn. Oddly enough, they also fit her perfectly. They were even a deep purplish-blue, which was her favorite color (although that’s pretty much every wizard’s favorite color).

She stood there for several minutes, feeling like we all do when we put on warm, comfortable socks on a cool night, but also confused. As she was pondering what exactly to make of this new development, the villagers showed up and barged into the shack which, it occurred to Dorflorkin for the first time, was a very rude thing to do in someone else’s home.

“Have ye sorted out this brazen devil-fish?!” demanded the biggest, loudest man in the village. “Let us know, as we really want to make sure it’s okay to kill it and we won’t get some sort of curse on our crops or something.”

Dorflorkin turned slowly to face them, not only for dramatic effect, but also so she could take a moment to collect her thoughts.

“Listen to me, good people of the village!” she shouted. “Of all the powers known to wizards, none is greater than wisdom. True, none know from whence this fish came or what its purpose may be, but in way, isn’t the true for all of us? Only the gods have knowledge of all things, and honestly, most of them don’t know what’s going on most of the time. There are some things you may never understand, and that lack of understanding may cause fear in your heart, but that fear is of your own making. I implore you all to revel in the mysteries of life and seek not to destroy that which you find abnormal or freaks you out. Leave this fish in peace, and in the future, wipe your shoes off before entering someone’s home.”

So saying, she left the shack. The villagers, who were smart enough to heed to the advice of a wizard, did the same, never again bothering the fish who continued to just do its thing, as far as anyone knows. On the way out, Dorflorkin could have sworn the fish winked at her, but it might have just been blinking. Fish do that a lot.  

Art by Miranda Britton

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