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by Steven John

I take the boat out two hours before nightfall. The sea’s quiet, the glare of the sun has gone from the water, the last of the hikers on their forced marches along the sign-posted coastal trails.

No, I’m not going to bloody wave back.

There was a time when all you could see and hear on these cliffs was sheep and cattle. All the old farmers have sold up. Farmhouses converted into holiday lets with hot tubs and uninterrupted sea-views. Pinot Grigio on the terrace.

There’s enough daylight to putter out, haul my creel. Lobstering is a pastime now. Anything more than that and there’s online paperwork. Haven’t got a computer. Wouldn’t know where to start.

There’s a couple of touristy pubs and smart restaurants in the village that put the catch on their “Local Specials”. Keeps me in beer money. I’m the only one left, an outcast, pushed to the paupers end of the harbour by the yachts and speedboats. Day-trippers gawking as I sit and mend the tackle. Parents clucking after their broods.

“Guess what this old man’s doing, darling,” like I’m a party game. A “Local Special”.

“And here is the shipping forecast from 0500 today … Plymouth. Northeast 6 or 7. Becoming cyclonic 7 to 8. Perhaps severe gale 9 later. Poor.”

That sounds just the job.

The doctor showed me the lie of the land on the X-ray. Long range forecast — poor. Never been without my pipe out here. There isn’t one I wouldn’t smoke again. Been like a companion. All I need to do is turn this old tub beam on to a heavy one, tie a couple of these creel weights to my belt. Let the lobsters get their own back on this stringy meat.

Steven John’s writing has appeared in Burningword, Bending Genres, Spelk, Fictive Dream, EllipsisZine, Storgy and Best Microfiction 2019, amongst others. He’s won Bath Ad Hoc Fiction a record seven times and been nominated for a BIFFY award and the Pushcart Prize. Steven lives in the Cotswolds, England, and is Fiction & Special Features Editor at New Flash Fiction Review.