Not a Clipart

Not a Clipart

Hey, this isn’t a clipart, but it is certainly a thing for you to read. I am just coming off of a very hectic finals week, even more hectic than usual as a result of me being a moron and taking extra classes, so I didn’t have very much time to write HCAD stuff. I did, however, write things for my creative writing class, so I figure sharing that is better than nothing. This was a (meh) thing that I wrote for an assignment where we had to take an adage or saying and adapt it into a full short story. Here is “Jack of All Trades.”

Jens sat on a small fishing boat which bobbed lazily on the endless grey plane of the ocean. Jens was a tall and slender man, with skin the color of the winter sky. His damp clothing clung tightly to his body, outlining his bare ribs and giving him the appearance of an emaciated stray. On the other side of the boat was Karl, a swinish man wider than he was tall who rested against the edge of the ship.

There wasn’t much to their lowly vessel. It was little more than a pile of rotting boards around 20 feet long, held together by rusted nails and prayer. This was only the second time Jens had been out to sea in his life and the clockwork rocking of the ship made his stomach churn. While he felt much more at home on solid ground, the harsh chill of the last winter had killed even the lichens and coarse spears of ocean grass that grew from the rocky soil of his homeland, leaving no livestock and forcing Jens and his family to live off whatever he could pull from the sea.

Jens was bent over the edge of the vessel, peering into the swirling foam of the waters below through sunken eyes. His fishing pole sat in a notch in the gunwale, its line flapping limply in the breeze.

“Staring at them won’t make the fish bite, Jens,” Karl said, looking down the bridge of his nose.

Jens stayed silent. Still he peered into the sloshing surf, unphased by Karl’s words.

“My family has sailed these seas for generations, reaping the bounty that the sea gods sowed,” Karl said. “It takes a special mind to be a fisherman, Jens. It’s gotta be in your blood and brine flows through my veins, my friend. I’m sure my boy will wield a harpoon like a man before he can walk.”

“Well, my father was a carpenter and his father was a shipwright. I’m not too sure what that makes me,” Jens said.

“So you’re Jens the fisherman with your son the chef and his son the basket weaver and…” Karl paused and looked toward Jens’ fishing pole. “Aren’t you going to get that?”

Jens looked up and saw the reel whirling like a twister. He leapt to his feet and tried to wrangle in whatever beast was at the other end of the line, pulling the rod back and bending it nearly in half. He flung himself backward and landed on the splintering deck of the ship. Jens scrambled to his aching feet to get a good look at the catch that had caused him so much trouble, but the only thing at the end of his line was a lopsided little fish not much bigger than his hand. He yanked the hook from its mouth and threw it in with the rest of his haul, a pile of a dozen or so similarly feeble specimens.

“Well, whatever you do I hope you don’t teach your boy to fish,” Karl chuckled, slapping Jens on the back.

Karl’s rod snapped forward and wavered back and forth frantically. He walked over and calmly grasped the pole in his palms. With little effort he reeled in the monster, dropping an arm-length cod to the deck with a wet thump.

“Ha! This might be my biggest one yet! At this rate I’ll keep Anna and the boys fed for three winters!” Karl said with a boisterous howl. “Don’t worry, Jens. I’ll send some your way when you run out. What kind of man would I be to let your family starve?”

“Not much of a man at all,” Jens said, looking down at the meager pile of fish at his feet.

“There is no need to feel ashamed, my friend. Not all men are suited for life on the sea,” Karl said. “Maybe you can move your family out to the country and be a sheppard? Or a shipwright or a carpenter? I’m sure you’ll find your calling eventually.”

“Aye, I guess I have to find it some day,” Jens said.

Satisfied with his work for the day, Karl packed up his rod, tied up the pile of fish in a net, and retreated below deck to rest for the day. Jens remained on deck, sitting anxiously next to the fishing pole, hands twitching, ready to leap at the slightest movement.

The sun, a slight smudge of white peeking through the cloud cover, sunk down low on the horizon. Jens’ eyes were heavy with sleep, his bones ached and empty stomach groaned, but he remained at his post. He wasn’t faring any better than he had in the first half of the day and had barely enough fish to fill a bucket. The approaching night and strain of Jens’ labor brought him to the point of collapse, but he was shaken to attention by a frantic yawp from below deck. He opened the hatch and ducked below to see what was wrong.

Karl was wading frantically through waist-deep water, which flowed from a geyser in the middle of the ship. He was stuffing the blanket from his cot into a hole in the floor, but brine kept leaking through.

“What the hell are you standing around for!” Karl howled. “We have to get out of here! Abandon ship!”

Karl sprinted for the ladder to the deck, but Jens held up his hand and stopped him..

“Calm down and get me a hammer and nails,” Jens said.

Karl found a waterlogged toolbox from the back of the ship and handed it to Jens. Jens grabbed a loose plank of wood that was leaning against the hold and dove into the water. The frigid brine chilled him to the bone, but he was able to force the piece of wood over the leak and nail it in place. Water trickled out from beneath the board, so Jens laid a tarp over the wood and nailed it in place with two more planks. The patchwork was sloppy and haphazard, but it would last until the two returned to shore.

“Where did you learn to do that?” Karl asked.

“I learned my way around a hammer from my father and he learned how to patch a leaking hull from his father before him. Maybe I can teach that to your son so he can keep his catch from swimming back to the sea?” Jens handed the toolbox to Karl and returned to the deck to try and reel in a few more fish before the night came.

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