The simple story of a girl named Leto, an old man, the uncertain ocean waters, and crabs.
Crabs were never a necessity.
Only recently did the old man recall his journeys across the waters, and then realize that eating crabs was what he desired.
A delicacy, he described it.
Leto weaved from every rocky street to hidden alley, keeping an eye on the head adorned with the blue straw hat. The old man was easy to spot. While she was attempting to conceal her steps, he was a turtle that wandered through the school of fish that filled the roads. Her feet seemed to sink further into the bricks below her. Papa was away at another sermon. If she followed all the steps, she would be back beneath her covers before he returned.
The townspeople had never seen the color blue on clothing until the old man. Some had, like Leto’s papa. He owned one robe, a royal blue. She had only seen him wear it once, but apparently, it was too rich for eyes to set upon once again. The old man however gallivanted across the streets with the blue material over his head. It’s what sent the townspeople flocking but drew Leto in.
In the distance, the blue hat stopped. She hurried forward and stood next to him. The old man removed his hat and held it by his side.
Then, his hand pushed against her back. The pads of his fingers could barely send her forward.
Leto turned to meet him. His weary eyes set upon her.
“Leto.” His voice echoed. His words often brought all other thoughts to rest, tucking them in before they could spiral any longer.
“Yes sir?” Those thoughts didn’t seem to rest today.
The waves were quiet by the shore as if one could lay for hours without getting carried out. But the louder, more concerning, sounds followed much further down the waters, where she could barely place out what was driftwood and what was a lost soul.
The old man’s expression turned amusing, his yellow stained teeth appearing as a piano missing its keys. That would be Papa’s worst nightmare.
“It is not very often that we get a chance like this, to go out,” he croaked, nodding his head in agreement with the waters. “That crab is mighty fine delicious.” Wrinkles rippled across his face as his smile grew wider.
She had believed him to be one of the crazies, the term coined by her papa for those who willingly went past their Eden. Those who yearned for more than the oasis that the Gods’ had already gifted them.
Of course, her papa had traveled though. That was the only way he could teach its horrors.
“Now remember,” the old man paused, pursing his lips and muttering phrases with a slight nod of his head, “they’re a beautiful golden almost.” His eyes widened. “Yes, yes, yes,” he chanted. “When the sun came down over them, it was almost as if an angel was sprinkling its truths, granting something that you homesteaders could only pray for.” He stared out at the island which was a mere speck in her eyes. What could ever be so grand beyond here?
Often, there was truth in his nonsense tangents as well. But, her trust was being tested with these ‘golden’ crabs.
“Why are you mute, Leto? Stop your thoughts, go on now. I did not summon you here to just watch these waters like you always have.” He wobbled to the end of the dock where a small boat awaited. The crystalline waters seemed to calm in his presence.
“Go,” he cried, waving a hand. With hesitant steps, she approached the end, unsure how deep she would have to go into the abyss to ever reach her destination.
She stepped in, the water swaying as if its peace had sunken further down. Papa had told her how her family had cursed the waters.
“The crabs are like any other animal. They sense every doubt.”
They are crabs. What sensing could they do? “Well, sir, there is much doubt to go around. I am afraid there is a possibility I will return without them.”
Leto sat before the waters could find the chance to pull the boat out from beneath her and send her tumbling out.
“You will return with something,” he nodded assuringly. “Do not take long. I plan on feasting on those crabs for supper tonight.”
“Wait! What must I be careful of?”
“Nothing!” He began his chant of old sea songs underneath his breath. “And put that down.”
Leto grumbled. Her eyebrows bunched together as she dropped the wooden paddle. “The water will carry you, Leto! And keep an eye out for those little stripers that you see in our ponds. They were the best company.”
The boat began to drift further down and Leto noticed she was no longer tethered to the only safe haven she knew of. The damn old man had sent her off without a mere warning.
He continued his chants, not even sparing her a goodbye as he ambled into the crowd of vendors and townspeople. She frantically searched the boat. Her hands slid across the wooden planks for anything she could use to direct her back to shore. The waves that she feared grew nearer, pulling her deeper in with every second.
Leto peered over the edge, but not too far to fall in. The sun glistened over the waters, reflecting the light like the surface of a diamond.
The dock was no longer visible and her stomach lurched. The lack of voices revealed how easy it was to get lost amidst the absence of familiarity.
The sun glared down upon her, beating its warmth against her bare back. She glanced to the side, almost stumbling back after a notable movement startled the placid waters.
In the light, the stripers that surrounded the hull of the boat became apparent. Fluorescent green little fishes that barely survived the environment of the ponds were now living in the uncertain ocean waters.
And suddenly, Leto seemed to understand the extravagant tales of the crazies that Papa spoke of. The island with the golden crabs was closer than ever.
Before this piece, I always wished to write flash fiction. Though, I was never certain about the elements I wanted to include and how I could possibly make a story with so much depth in such a small word count. Prior to writing it, I read up on several famous stories and analyzed the aspects that made it so loved. I tried to implement some certain elements into my work through different symbols and characters. Overall, I am really satisfied with the end result. I realized I cannot allow the fear of trying new writing media to stop me from growing and learning.
Erina Rejo is an avid reader and writer currently in high school. She enjoys going on walks with her dog, Zulu, and is constantly rewatching Gilmore Girls in her free time. She is also part of her school's varsity swim team. While fantasy is her most-read genre, she hopes to expand further into other ones as well. She has aspirations to become a published author and it is currently a work in progress!