Photo credit: Sora Sagano
Once there were two fish named Jarosh and Mokta. Jarosh was a dull gray while Mokta was bright and colorful, a fact Mokta often mentioned.
“You’re lucky to be my friend,” Mokta said, “given that you are so plain and I am so magnificent.”
Jarosh waved his tail — the equivalent of nodding, for fish — and sighed. “Yes, Mokta, everyone knows you’re magnificent.”
Jarosh’s father tried to comfort him. “Son, there are more important things than being beautiful.”
Jarosh was unconvinced. His father was gray too. What did he know?
One day Mokta said, “Let’s go to the shallows. The frogs and water-spiders and shore birds deserve to see me too.”
“It’s too dangerous,” Jarosh said, but Mokta insisted.
In the shallows, the sunlight showed off Mokta’s coloration wonderfully. “Look at my gorgeous markings,” he crooned, “and my sinuous lines.”
The other creatures showered Mokta with compliments.
Jarosh noticed a shadow pass overhead. “We must leave!”
Mokta laughed. “You’re only jealous.”
An eagle swooped down, easily spotting the bright fish in the dark waters. It grabbed Mokta. In an instant, he was gone.
Nobody ever saw Mokta again. Poor Jarosh remained plain for the rest of his long, comfortable life.
Word count: 200. Written for this week’s Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner challenge. Thanks to Roger Shipp for hosting and for choosing such an interesting photo!
I felt inspired to write a fable this week, in the tradition of Hans Christian Andersen, having recently slogged through an epic volume of his “favorite” fables. I now understand why modern retellings tend to clean up the loose ends a bit, and why I’ve never heard of most of his stories. A useful lesson: write tons and tons of stories, and most will be mediocre at best, but perhaps a few will be good enough to be remembered.