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Fish Stocks Limited

Somehow, the fire still had life in it and mustered a few small yellow flames for a
couple of seconds before sulking again into an angry red. Ambrosius breathed in the
masculine musk of the hut, and felt a little better for being home. He moved away
from the moribund fire and sat on a chair that he had carved himself.
And now he had to think. He couldn't help it, for he was a dweller. He dwelt on
the memories that had swam so clear in front of him. He dwelt on his mother's tears at
his father's funeral. More than anything, he dwelt on the sound of bells and shower of
confetti as Sunbeam, his Sunbeam, had found her false true love. He had attended the
wedding – how could he not? He had watched without any real emotion as she walked
down the aisle, he had felt that millisecond of eye contact as she passed him, that
millisecond that, had he been open to it, would have communicated a volume of
emotion. But he had just not b itten the bait of reality – he had shied away, dissociated,
for he felt that this was the logical thing to do. What point was there feeling love,
pain, regret, loneliness? What point? Only a barbed one, like a Fish- hook. A barbed
one that, once you had been caught by it, dug deeper and deeper. And now he had
been snagged - by an unexpected fall, by the unknown, by the infinite. Yes, a fall had
made him and broken him all at once.
He thought about his close encounter with the Fish. Such unfathomable sadness he
had seen in those sparkling, whirlpool-black eyes; such infinite sorrow. Something
was happening to the Infinity Fish, and he had to find out what. But first he had to get
the girl.
“What do you want?” Sunbeam had come to the window after Ambrosius' third
throw. He had read somewhere that suitors threw stones against their beloved's
window, which he had diligently done. Sunbeam now had a round lump on her head
where the Hookfruit stone had sailed through the glassless aperture.
“Can I come inside?” Ambrosius decided to ignore the angry tone in Sunbeam's
voice.
“What's going on?” came a voice from inside the room. “If some fishing idiot is
throwing things through the window he's going to feel the back of my hand!”
Sunbeam looked over her shoulder, then quickly back to Ambrosius. “Look, you
can't come in. Whatever you've got to say, say it now and quickly.”
“But I can't say it,” said Ambrosius. “It would take a million words."
Sunbeam's face dropped. “Oh Ambrosius, no. Not now.”
“Sunbeam, I lo...”
“No! Don't you dare! I have a life and I'm happy with it. Don't you dare try and
ruin it.”
“You know how I feel about you. We're meant for each other!”
“I don't believe in destiny, Ambrosius. Forget me, Ambrosius. Go back to your
books.”
"What can I do to change your mind?"
Sunbeam seethed, before anger made her reply burst forth without thought.
“Ambrosius Codwich, the day I love you is the day... is the day... is the day you catch
a fish!”
It is not possible to slam a glassless window, but Sunbeam drew her curtains with
such ferocity that a bang was almost audible. Perhaps it was the sound of Ambrosius'
heart breaking, but that is a cliché. Anyhow, Ambrosius' suit had failed and he was
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