by Jacob K.
(This story is based on a limerick from a class on writing I recently taught in Africa.*. Jacob combined that core idea with a vocabulary assignment for his English class. The result is hilarious. The bold words are vocabulary words from this year and/or dual/triple extensions, style techniques for “points.”)
There once was a fish who could talk
He wanted to learn how to walk
He got out from the sea
Fell right onto me
And I nearly died from the shock.
A Virtuous Walking-Fish
There once was a talking fish. His name was Sam. Sam the Cichlid. He was clad in a grandiose set of bright orange scales. Sam lived in Lake Malawi. His portable house was made of seaweed and shells. He had been capriciously swimming for days. Sam was a smug, agile, ludicrous fish. All he wanted to do was learn to walk.
Sam had been swimming for a long time. He was beginning to tire out. Soon he had to stop. I’ll just take a quick nap, he thought. And he did. Despite being fatigued, Sam pushed on tenaciously. He needed to learn to be a proficient walker. I have to be close, thought resolved, determined Sam, who was intrepidly looking for the humans so he could pursue his dream.
Imminently uniform schools of fish, small crabs, and myriads of other independent fish joined up with Sam. They were surprisingly high in the water now. Sam could even see the sun through the thin water above him. He wondered what was happening. Then he saw a net closing in on them. He tried to flee. He tried to hide. He screamed for help. But nothing could free him from the massive net. He was in anguish. After enduring an interminable swim to find the humans, Sam was being apprehended in a fatal net, which was slowly growing smaller, smaller, smaller. He tried to dislodge himself from the other fish so he could have more space, but he was restrained and his attempt was stymied by the slowly shrinking net. But Sam didn’t give up. He gravely craned his neck to look around the tragic, melancholy scene in the net. He was analyzing his surroundings. He had contrived a plan—when the nets break the surface of the water, he would hastily leap out and ask a human to help him walk.
With a loud crash, the net broke the surface of the water. Sam rashly lept out onto the sand of the beach. Some of the humans were stunned, intrigued, and bewildered. Most were aghast and perturbed. Sam, on the other hand was abashed. The foremost man, however, was not as insolent as the others and stepped forward out of the loud, fetid din, scowling.
He rebuked Sam, “You did a reprehensible, rash, terrible thing, fish! You shouldn’t have jumped out of the net. What if one of my fellow fishermen would have stepped on you! You could’ve been killed! Don’t do that again.”
Sam contritely replied, “OK.” Then he began to tell the man his story, hoping one of the men in the audience would think it was credible and then help him.
“Hello, humans!” he exclaimed in impeccable Chichenglish.
Many people thought the talking fish was repugnant, so they ran off, disclosing the secret to others. Many people thought that a talking fish was exciting and they ran to see the fish.
“I am Sam! The only fish in Lake Malawi that can talk. I am an elite builder-fish. I toil every day to fix dilapidated buildings and build new ones. I have wanted to see you ever since I learned what walking was. I want to learn to walk! I spent days swimming before you caught me in your net and I plummeted here in front of you! Please, help me learn to walk! Somebody? Anybody?”
Eventually, a feeble old man slowly and shakily appeared where there was a vacant area in front of Sam. Many people scorned the man and called him indolent. His name was Helpful. He told Sam that he wouldn’t harm him, and that he wasn’t actually indolent. And then he began to teach Sam how to walk across the serene beach. Helpful had reformed Sam from a swimming-fish into a walking-fish. Many people thought this was amazing. They extolled the pair, bestowing Kwatchas (Malawian money) galore on them.
Later, Helpful and Sam, who relished his newfound ability to walk, started a show. They were the renowned Walking Fish Act in the I Am a Devout Christian and I Love God Circus. The Walking Fish Act was the most prominent part of the show. There were also people who ate a match and then spewed fire, clowns embellished with red noses and funny costumes, and tame crocodiles that brandished a sword at one another. No one could desecrate the show.
In those days, however, Sam also learned a new virtue: humility. He was a smug swimming-fish when he arrived on the shores of Malawi and a humble walking-fish when he left to perform in the USA. He had learned a new trick and a new virtue.
Jacob K. is a clever thirteen-year-old MK living in Malawi, Africa with his parents (missionaries at International Bible Fellowship church) and his siblings. He recently attended a writing class I taught.