The Eel

1 May

A story I once wrote on twitter. Here it is, as written, so excuse the typos.

The Eel

I remember when I first slipped into my eel skin suit and headed out into the town centre, a world of possiblities in front of me.
After months of bleeding fingers needling sinew into skin, it hung for a while in my room. And I’m no believer in the supernatural, but
this suit had a special quality. It rendered me… not invisible, but slippery to the eye. No sooner seen than forgotten. And so I wriggled
my way through the crowds unnoticed. Those nimble fingers of mine, finally heeling, dipping into purse and pocket, rummaging in bags,
sliding up sleeps, all the while relieving those I passed of their precious and mundane possessions. Here a photograph of a loved one.
There a watch, unlatched, lifted and pocketed. Earrings, necklaces, badges of honour, letters folded in wallets, still faintly scented.
A child’s toy delicately unfurled from a tiny hand, and clasped for a moment in mine, before returning it to the grip of shadows.
And so my days passed, swimming through the tangles of pedestrians, unremarked except perhaps for the faint whiff of eel.
They would seem to stare right through me, nostrils flaring as they sought to catch that essence – not of day-old fish, but
the real eel smell, of salt-marsh, silt and samphire. Just a hint of something, their minds not sure with which sense to place it.
Glimpsed or sniffed, felt or heard, a jumble of minor irritations immediately replaced by shop dispalys and bus count-downs.
I took each object home. Glad to slip out of my eel suit once more, to feel myself come back once more into the world.
I laid them out before me and began the tedious process of cataloguing them. Time, date, location. The name of the owner.
Each carefully photographed, a written description, and then a full hour with each. Contemplating it, feeling it, wondering, giving the full
attention it deserved. Honouring each beautiful specimen, before filing it away in its air-tight bag. And then the other date before filing.
The date for return to the owner. Some of them a few weeks. Some of them months, others years.
I knew that I would be watching them, watching them grow up or grow old, waiting for the date, the time to don once more my eel suit.
And to slip amongst them, and place their cherished object, just so, into the corner of their eyes, just in their peripheral vision.
What’s this? My… my Grandmother’s ring! No, I can’t believe … I thought it lost all these. Oh sweet joy. Never did I realise how much
I missed it until I found it again.
It’s a hard task, and the taking is the hardest part, knowing their dismay when they find it gone. But I know, I know more than any other,
that the joy of finding again far outweighs the misery of losing. It is thus I spread my love through the world.

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