Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Fish Wish. Write and Link #1

Book illustration by Nikolai Kochergin, 1974 (source)


For this and the previous post, I'm copying my two stories written in English for my creative writing (short fiction) link-up Write and Link which is open to all writers on my other blog, In the Writer's Closet. I've decided that it'll keep things more straightforward if I publish all of my fiction on this blog. This one was written for Write and Link #1: I Opened My Eyes. It Was Pitch Dark Around Me.


FISH WISH
Flash drama by Natalia Lialina

Pitch dark and very quiet.
The smell of oak,
sounds of squeaky wood,
waves and seagulls in the distance.
Yemelya and Liz, a guy and a girl, 25-ish.


LIZ
WOW! It’s pitch dark…

YEMELYA
Yep! I opened my eyes, but it’s like I didn’t.

LIZ
And what’s with the smell? It’s so stinky… I can’t breath…

YEMELYA
It’s just oak smell, babe. Ouch!

LIZ
Sorry, didn’t mean to poke you! Is there any light here? Ouch!

YEMELYA
Sorry! Guess I stepped on you.  No, it’s always dark here, babe.

LIZ
Stop calling me babe. Where did you get that?

YEMELYA
Movies. Cool guys always call their girls babe.

LIZ
Well, it’s certainly as dark as the movies. What do you mean, “it’s always dark here”? Where are we?

YEMELYA
In a barrel, of course.

LIZ
What!? You’re kidding me, right?

YEMELYA
No kidding, babe… sorry, Liz. No kidding. Anyways, all tsars do it.

LIZ
All tsars do what?

YEMELYA
You know – this, sealing their misbehaving kids into a barrel.

LIZ
Sounds pretty barbarian to me. And how do you know about it?

YEMELYA
Everyone knows about it.

LIZ
I don’t know, that means not everyone knows … wait a minute, you’re pulling my leg.

YEMELYA
You don’t know ‘cause you’re not Russian. In Russian fairy tales, tsars always do something like this.

LIZ
Insane!

YEMELYA
Totally! To seal your own kid into a barrel and throw the barrel into the sea…

LIZ
What?! Are we… in the sea?

YEMELYA
Yep!

LIZ
But it can’t be! It’s madness! Ouch!

YEMELYA
Sorry! Yep, it sucks.

LIZ
And what do we have to do with tsars? And with Russian fairy tales?

YEMELYA
What do you mean?

LIZ
How on earth do you and I happen to be in a sealed barrel in the middle of the sea?

YEMELYA
We’re in a Russian fairy tale.

LIZ
Why would we be in a Russian fairy tale?

YEMELYA
Well, I’m from a Russian fairy tale, obviously.

LIZ
Will you ever be serious?

YEMELYA
I am.

LIZ
What fairy tale?

YEMELYA
По-щучьему веленью”. [Pa Shoochimoo Vilyenu]

LIZ
What the hell does that mean?

YEMELYA
It means… it just means… I guess you could say ‘Fish Wish’.

LIZ
Excuse me?

YEMELYA
Fish Wish. I met her – the talking fish.

LIZ
I’m tired of all this nonsense. Tell me the truth.

YEMELYA
I am telling you the truth. You see, it all started when I worked at Pike Place Market.

LIZ
Do you mean the Pike Place Market, the one in Seattle?

YEMELYA
That’s the one! You know how those guys throw fish at you?

LIZ
I’ve certainly heard of it.

YEMELYA
What, you’ve never actually been there?

LIZ
Maybe when I was little… I told you, mom died when I was five. Dad just never had time to take me to places.

YEMELYA
I thought he got you a fancy education. Private this, private that…

LIZ
Sure, school, college… That’s the easy part.

YEMELYA
Doesn’t sound too easy.

LIZ
Well, he had to pay for it. But you see, for him, that’s the easy part.

YEMELYA
They say money is hard.

LIZ
To some people, yes. He’s got money all right. And no, it is not hard.

YEMELYA
What is?

LIZ
Love.

YEMELYA
Don’t worry, I’ll take you to the Pike Place, poor babe.

LIZ
Don’t patronize me.

YEMELYA
What does that mean?

LIZ
Forget it. Get me out of here first. What we’re going to do?

YEMELYA
That’s what I’m trying to tell you. You know how I was riding on the stove?

LIZ
You mean when you caused the traffic mess and were taken to the police? Sure I know. Everyone in Seattle knows that story – it was all over the news.

YEMELYA
Well, before the stove, there was firewood cut and gathered all by itself, and the piles moved themselves to the house.

LIZ
You’re joking again.

YEMELYA
There also was a problem with the water pipes in the house – we had to bring water from the creek.

LIZ
Yeah, right, water from the creek… in the 21st century, in the middle of Seattle. Who’s gonna believe that?

YEMELYA
But it’s true. My brothers know this creek where those huge trucks get the fresh water that’s sold at supermarkets. There is even a hose there, and the water is always running.

LIZ
Nonsense.

YEMELYA
You don’t know ‘cause you’re not Russian.

LIZ
Mm-hm.

YEMELYA
So those buckets full of water, they get heavy, you know. I just did not feel like carrying them. So they walked, by themselves.

LIZ
OK, now it’s getting really ridiculous.

YEMELYA
Also… there was this beautiful girl… the tsar’s daughter… She did not pay any attention to me. At first. Then she fell for me. ­­­­

LIZ
So what, people fall in love, it happens, and not only in fairy tales… Who’s the girl?

YEMELYA
You, of course, who else.

LIZ
Oh, me… ah… Me? The tsar’s daughter? Wait a minute… do you think my father is a tsar? Why?!

YEMELYA
‘Cause he is.

LIZ
No, he’s not.

YEMELYA
But he is! In the tale, I fall in love with the tsar’s daughter, and the tsar gets really grumpy, ‘cause you know, I’m a simple guy.

LIZ
Yemelya, I promise you, my father is not a tsar. I would probably know by now if I was a tsar’s daughter. Would it make me a princess?

YEMELYA
Tsarevna. But that doesn’t make any sense... who’s the tsar in Seattle then?

LIZ
There is no tsar in Seattle.

YEMELYA
New York?

LIZ
Not that I know of.

YEMELYA
Oklahoma?

LIZ
Afraid not. There is not one single tsar in the whole United States of America. You better remember if you’re going to become a citizen.

YEMELYA
Are you sure?

LIZ
Positive.

YEMELYA
But there were photos of your dad in newspapers… they said he was a tsar. But I guess, I’ve heard journalists like to exaggerate.

LIZ
I didn’t know you read papers… But I bet I know what this is all about. Yemelya, my father is not a tsar – he is a STAR. That’s what you saw in the papers.

YEMELYA
A star? But how can he be?

LIZ
Just lucky, I guess. Plus he’s talented too. Obviously insane, but talented.

YEMELYA
But stars are… high…

LIZ
Oh, dad can get high, trust me. Which explains it, by the way.

YEMELYA
What?

LIZ
That we are in this damn barrel, sealed like some stupid kids in a stupid Russian tale, waiting for some stupid magic!

YEMELYA
That’s what I’m trying to tell you…

LIZ
Not that you know magic, I hope?

YEMELYA
I don’t, but the fish does.

LIZ
What fish?

YEMELYA
Щука.

LIZ
Shoo.. shoo-kah? What kind of fish is that?

YEMELYA
I only know in Russian. Everybody knows. You don’t know just ‘cause you’re not Russian!

LIZ
So where is that silly fish then?

YEMELYA
In the sea, I hope.

LIZ
Are you being smart with me?

YEMELYA
Listen. When I got that fish thrown at me at the Pike Place Market, it was at the very end of the day. The last people were leaving, and I was about to put the fish in a box, on the ice, with all the other fish. But suddenly, I heard the voice…

LIZ
Let me guess. The fish was talking to you?

YEMELYA
You got it! She said, “Yemelya, let me out, and I will make all your wishes come true.”

LIZ
Were you at least a bit surprised?

YEMELYA
You could say that. I did not believe it at first. I thought someone… how do you say it… was pulling the legs? But then I heard the voice again and I saw her looking at me.

LIZ
The sh…shoo-kah was looking at you?

YEMELYA
You bet. Straight in my eyes. “I will make all your wishes come true, just let me go to my babies, they miss me.” So I said, “OK.”

LIZ
And then?

YEMELYA
Then she told me her magic words, and I dropped her into Puget Sound.

LIZ
So now you can wish anything you want, and it will come true?

YEMELYA
Pretty much.

LIZ
So that stupid stove ride was… what did you call it, a fish wish?

YEMELYA
Yep.

LIZ
And the buckets walking by themselves?

YEMELYA
Yep.

LIZ
And the firewood?

YEMELYA
Yep.

LIZ
And I fell in love with you… because of a fish?

YEMELYA
Not “a fish” – the fish, she’s magic.

LIZ
It makes me sick! How dare you?! I don’t even like fish!

YEMELYA
But it worked, didn’t it?
Sounds of vigorous
fiddling about
and then smooching.

LIZ
But what makes you think that I’m in your tale? I haven’t read it, I haven’t even heard of it before now!

YEMELYA
You’re with me – that means you’re in my fairy tale.

LIZ
No, it doesn’t. If we are together, it means it is our story.

YEMELYA
So in our story, are we going to get out of this barrel? I know in my story that’s what we do.

LIZ
Of course we’re going to get out!

YEMELYA
And then what?

LIZ
I guess we’ll just have to figure it out together, won’t we?

YEMELYA
Are you afraid?

LIZ
A little. You?

YEMELYA
A bit.

LIZ
So what are the magic words?

YEMELYA
«По-щучьему веленью...»  [Pa Shoochimoo Vilyenu]


The End


Щука (shooka) in English is “pike”.

"По щучьему веленьюпо моему хотенью…" – "By the pike’s will, and by my wish…" are the magic words that the pike tells Yemelya in the fairy tale.

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