In my newest learning outcome novel, Jenna’s Story, I tell the legend of the Black Water, a Brazilian tale about the Negro
D’água who protects the streams and rivers of that nation.
In this scene, Jenna is explaining to her friend, Tom, why you must throw your first-caught fish back…
BTW, Jenna talks like a hillbilly (some of the time):
feels the bite before she sees a fine brook trout break the surface tension of
got one!” Tom shouts, interrupting both her concentration and her Wa.
yo’seff, Tommah. Sheesh.”
watches her set her hook, after which she expertly strips the line back to her.
She’s already told him she prefers that to using her reel, about which she’d
said earlier, “It ain’t a fair fight eff’n’n yo’ use yer reel, Tommah.”
just have to take her word for it seeing as he’s about as likely to catch a
fish as he is a rare Pokémon.
she raises her catch, Tom takes a picture of his sweetheart holding up the fish
in one hand while her other rests playfully on a stuck out hip.
How big is it?” Tom asks, again not realizing that he’s just asked a white
man’s question based on their cultural preoccupation with: “more”, “size”,
“frequency”, “addition”, “profusion”, “growth”, “increase”, “augmentation”,
“enlargement”, “expansion”, “extension”, “heighten”, “develop”, “stretch”,
“yield”, “scale”, “ratchet”, “duplicate”, “triplicate”, “quantify”, “payoff”,
and about a million other terms related to industrial output.
is what Jenna meant when she told him early on in their relationship, “Ah ain’t
as white as ah look.”
humor him, she says instead, “About 18 inches an’ aroun’ 2 an’ ½ poun’s.”
eating then?” Tom asks as he watches Jenna carefully and unfathomably unhook
her fish, and release it.
he adds. “Why d’ya do that?”
silent for a moment while she casts her line again.
she says, “Does yo’ knows th’ lejund of th’ Black Water?”
understands that hers is a purely rhetorical question addressed as it is to
what can only be described as an indoor kind of person.
Tom answers as expected.
yo’ don’t throw a fish back, th’ Negro D’água will come an’ frighten th’ fish
away, bust yer fishin’ hooks, lop yer nets, an’ on overturn yer boat… he’s a
scary guy who nevah leaves th’ rivah unattended.”
“Geez, Jenna, I don’t think you should tell
anyone but me that story,” Tom says, thinking only a deep southerner would ever
repeat a tale like that.
fuck’s sake, Tom, ah tol yo’ afor’, ah ain’t a racist! It be a common sto’y
among rivah dwellers in Brazil,
widespread amongst their fishermen there, menny of whom say they’s seed him.”
What’s he look like?” Tom says to mollify her.
he gots a sense of hoomah, whut wif him up t’non-stop mischief an’ all. He be
tall, black an’ bald wif han’s an’ feet webbed like a duck, plus he gots ears
like Mr Spock.”
keep my eyes open for him, babe,” Tom says, thinking he will definitely never repeat such an obviously
ethno-centrist piece of jingoistic nonsense.
Jenna gets some relief—Tom goes quiet.
her, as a hunter and fisher, noiselessness is a natural ally.
This is what he looks like according to legend:
Remarkably similar to Oscar-winner and film of the year, the Shape of Water’s creature wouldn’t you say?
But I used it first!
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