Dull Fish, Pretty Fish


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.



17 thoughts on “Dull Fish, Pretty Fish

  1. i read your story and think of the snobby people in the world who are just so perfect on the outside but rotten inside – and whoosh – one day they will be have such reality come to them. good story and never mediocre – anything i read here always has value and substance.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh yes, I wish some of those awful vain people would get their just desserts, like they do in fables. Maybe not so bad as being eaten by an eagle — ouch — but a good comeuppance would be nice. Thanks so much for your kind words, I’m so happy to hear you enjoy these stories and so grateful that you took the time to say that!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. There’s a lot to be said for being plain…as in this story…it can be an advantage. The beautiful, rich, powerful, or popular people do not always live the great life a lot of people think they do. They have their own problems, but they are not always known by the public. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a good point. I often think about how glad I am that I’m not famous, so that when (not if) I mess up, it doesn’t end up on the news. Still, I wouldn’t mind being just a little more beautiful and rich — you know, just to prove that I could handle it, ha ha! 😉 Thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I liked this, very much saw it coming for this showy fish. There is a price to being flashy and beautiful, and not having the brains and humility to go with it. The gray fish I think in the end, realized his strength on being able to blend in, that he had value despite his plainness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the great comment, Mandi! I agree – a person might be born beautiful, but they choose to be flashy and vain about it. I had a longer version of the story in mind, where the gray fish also proved himself brave by going out and herding everyone else away from danger — not only benefiting from his natural camouflage himself, but using it to help others — but I ran out of space.

      Liked by 1 person

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