Grey

Part of a Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction Challenge, this week we had to use a random fantasy character generator to write a 1000 word story. The one that I chose was “Glum fishmonger fighting for the rights of the common people.” So, here’s the story:

Griselda the fishmonger, had lived with her father in the stone house on the clifftop for most of her life. Her father had come up with the idea behind that big factory on the other side of town and was with much pomp, praise and ado by the big guns, given charge of running it. He was a business-genius, and perhaps Griselda would have been proud if he didn’t have as many terrible ideas as brilliant. His worst was that unnecessary mingling with other people would cause his ruin. Since he couldn’t take any chances with his success, he didn’t  let his little girl mix with the rest either. Poor Griselda spent most of her lonely childhood holed up in her room, staring sullenly out the window as the other children played on the seashore, wishing that her father would re-consider. But sadly, she had to wonder if they would play with her at all. Griselda was a scrawny, plain looking child who seldom smiled and wore only ugly charcoal coloured clothes thanks to another one of her fathers strange ideas. Whenever she met the village kids, they only pulled faces at her and giggled behind her back till one day…a day forever etched in her memory, a cruel little boy shoved her to the ground in front of his friends. He kicked sand in her face and called her the Grey Freak, laughing as she doubled up in pain. Thankfully, only part of that name stuck. Grey. Grey was her house. Grey were her clothes. Grey was her disposition. Grey seemed her life.

******

As always, that day, she was up before the first rays of the sun had lit up the sky and fixed herself a cup of steaming hot black coffee. It never was warm in the “Stonehenge”, as her father had christened the house during one of his more creative moments. Sipping on her elixir trying to get warm, she looked out her kitchen window to the terrible beauty of the constantly changing ocean. She could see the white froth on the waves as they crashed against the razor sharp rocks and could almost taste their salty spray on her lips. She could count the masthead lights dancing in and out of sight on trawlers that were coming in to port. Soon she would have to go to the auction house. Her father thought she was a disappointment, but she was proud that at least she was able to loosen his clutches enough to pick the job she wanted herself.

“I wonder what the haul will be.”, thought Grey gloomily as she walked down the precarious cliff path. “They don’t bring in as much as they used to.”

Tourism and fishing were the life lines of her town but over the years, both had spiraled downwards at phenomenal rates. Since the opening of the factory, the once pristine waters had become murky and the tourists had stopped coming. The trawlers that once came to port with their bellies full of fish were now coming back with a little more than half their carrying capacity, if they came at all. She remembered when her shanty town was bustling with activity. Now most of the town had shut down. She found her gaze drawn to the factory that was responsible not just for her sadness but also for the slow death of her town. She detested it with all her heart. From the ash coloured smoke that rose from the chimneys to the black water that flowed out the pipes into the sea. Everyday, she watched as tonnes and tonnes of fish made their way into the factory, a mere pit stop before they were exported. Hardly anything came to the local market anymore. A lot of the smaller fishermen had been rendered unemployed, poverty was at an all time low and prices were sky rocketing. She looked at the eyesore that was run by her own father and thought as she did everyday, that it had to stop.

She walked into the almost empty auction house by the port. “Hey Sardine…better today?”, she called out to the fisherman with whom she did most of her business. Sardine was one of her favourite fishermen. He had just started fishing in the big league when she became a fishmonger herself and they had become like partners. He brought in the fish and she made sure he was able to sell his whole haul at a good price. “Well Grey, it’s worse than usual actually. Think I’m going to have to sell my trawler. Start something new. It’s kind of hard to make ends meet these days….”And he glanced in the direction of the factory. She couldn’t believe it. She never thought he would decide to shut shop. If he stopped fishing, there would be just two small suppliers to the local market and then things would become worse than she dared to imagine.

That’s when she decided she couldn’t let it go on anymore. She told Sardine to gather all the people he could while she stormed into the factory. She made her way up to the offices and barged into her fathers office. “I know you have never listened to what I’ve had to say in the past, but you will listen to me now Father! Stop the excessive fishing! Clean up the water! The town is dying don’t you see?? Please Father! Stop!!” But, he wouldn’t listen, no matter how much she tried so she did the next best thing…

With Sardine and the others she began to protest; to shut down the factory; or to clean the ocean and stop the excessive fishing. They didn’t budge from outside the gates until their story made headlines and her father had no choice. He was forced to talk to the big guys, who eventually were forced to meet their demands.

Now, in her beautiful, busy, crowded town, Grey is finally happy to be around.

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