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(英文注意) The Fine Ears

1 finEKSin [ 2010/05/19(Wed) 12:13 ID:Axu6Aa3I ]
It was not until these months that I began to recall that strange night in my adolescence, despite all my unwillingness. Partly because I found my brain in a blur when it comes to the happening, partly because I am afraid of confession, which is impossible to explain. Why would a young, plain, dumb son of an obscure farmer approach those strangeness? It seems to begin with a boy named “Tomson”.

Tomson “Sawyer” Cortland. I couldn’t remember when I first met him. It seems to me he was already there since the first moment I could recall in my life, always treating me like he did at that time. It might be in my 5 when this Tomson successfully talked me into swimming in the stream behind his house, which almost drowned your narrator, to death. When the adults came, he shocked me by saying that it was I that come up with this stupid idea that he “tried so hard to stop”, with such a convincing, innocent look. Poor me. I was too exhausted to yell out the truth, and got even more exhausted after my father beat me up after. Yeah, it was also the first smack I remember. God knows how many times he had played tricks on me before I had clear memory! He was the son of another poor farmer, very familiar to our family, and is about four years older than I, although we are in the same grade. Tomson was older than all of the schoolboys there, thus he played leader in everything: fight, skipping school, being punished.
Well, that night we went out together to watch the circus. What circus? I can hardly remember it now. It was a time when circus began to prevail. Like Herbert’s Fresh Circus, Doc Leng’s Dream World, etc. That circus, as I can remember, came in the second week after summer solstice, when the villagers, most of which are farmers, have the most spare time to kill.

We walked in the half-drained stream behind my house, toward the center of the village. Those days the streams and rivers are often drained by the gold miners in search of the El Dorado of the waters. The stream was almost like a trail of mud. Tomson could not drown me anymore, since there was not enough water to drown even a chicken. Now it was safe to walk in it. The mud felt cool under our feet. The wind brought the rumbling noise of cicadas, as if they are as excited to see the circus as we were...

2 finEKSin [ 2010/05/19(Wed) 12:15 ID:Axu6Aa3I ]
The Circus, whose name I have already forgotten thanks to my years’ effort to conceal the memory, was like a kaleidoscopic dream for the kids at that time, with the animals from far East, performers with wonderful talents, breath-taking actions by the airmen, and so on and on until the climax--When the drummers in the round circus tent, which was maybe three floors high, began to strike their big, fat drum like crazy, literally shaking my bones and organs along with my ears. I could feel the thunder-like beats of drum in my body, vibrating. It was as if the tent itself was trembling too. I really wondered why they need to drum this loud, my ears began feeling uncomfortable a while after. Then, without an announcement (maybe it was too loud to make one) the curtains on the stages was thrust open, revealing a glass aquarium. Well, of course the ugly cubic aquarium was not what caught our eyes the first. It was the thing in it that did.

It is the thing that I would not be able to forget through my life until today, but at that time I just felt quite curious. “What‘s that,” I whispered to Tomson “a monkey with its legs bonded?” Now the drummers had stopped beating, the whole tent suddenly fell to silence. Everybody was stretching their necks, eager to see the thing on stage more clearly.

“No wonder people all call you dim,” said he “Can‘t you see what it is? Do you have bad eyes to go with your bad head? Look, it is a merfolk! Maybe one from the Mississippi river.” He appeared to be very proud, for he finally knows more about a topic than others, and was very eager to show it. “My uncle John works on a water gold mine of Yazoo river. He told me a lot of stories about these savages. They always attack fishermen or sailors or water gold miners. They will use their--” What he was trying to say to frighten me was impossible to know then, because there suddenly come a weird voice. It was a song, obviously coming from the merfolk on stage. Weird as it sounded, full of words incomprehensible, the song was still oddly touching. The whole tent froze. Even some little babies who had been annoying everyone through the performances were suddenly calmed. The song, in my memory, was intoxicating. You can almost see happy streams rushing down beautiful field, or a brooding brook in the dark forest, or a lake lying in the valley mimicking the sky. The notes was sometimes like drops in a fall, sometimes like flowing dews, sometimes like the rain drip down on the water surface. Drip drop...Drip drop...

Though profoundly moved, I wondered whether I was the only one in the audience who noticed that the merfolk didn’t move its (or her, since the voice sounded like a female one) lips.

That night, I couldn’t fall asleep. I had that song stuck in my head, that song which, as soon as it ended, brought all of about 150 people in the tent to tears, filled by euphoria. At last if it wasn’t guard hired by the circus the audition might even rushed onto the stage for more. I, too, wanted to hear more of those songs. I will have to correct my word. That voice is not intoxicating. It is addicting.

That night I sneaked out. I don’t know where that bravery came from. It might be that the song was too wonderful that I, addicted to it, could not stand not hearing it. It might be, too, that I at last wanted to show Tomson something I dared while he dared not -- Sneaking into a circus at night to see a water savage! That would certainly make a feat at those days. So your narrator, with the little figure and light pace of a child, successfully stole into the back stage of the circus, where those animals were sleeping. I carefully searched the place and finally found it. In the twilight of the moon and stars, I walked toward the big aquarium. I felt I stepped on something and heard some slight squeak, but couldn’t see anything.

So I got there, at last, before the aquarium and the merfolk I longed for so much. Although the aquarium was pretty old and out of fashion, the water was very clean. So I was able to observe the merfolk closely.

3 finEKSin [ 2010/05/19(Wed) 12:17 ID:Axu6Aa3I ]
It was then that I realized that my guess was right. It was a she. The merfolk was a weird combination of a upper body of young girl, almost naked (which made me blush a little) and a lower body of a giant fish like a sword fish, but with less scales and more frog-like skin. At the same time, I also learnt the reason I didn’t recognize its, or her human part. It, or She had a lot of tattoos across its, or her upper body, in a color similar to weed, forming the patter of spiral, water wave or scales. She, or it also wore a thin cloak made from, maybe, eel skin. While I was curiously observing this creature who is similar yet different to myself, she, or it, without a sign, opened its, or her eyes. It was a pair of fish-like eyes, quite different from humans’, since I could never open my eyes that wide in water. I tried to smile to her or it, doubting if she or it would understand.

To my great surprise, she, or it, did! She or it also smiled. (At least showed something exactly like a human smile.) I started to think of the merfolk as human, and I could no longer believe otherwise.
She blinked her big gray eyes, swam close to me, but I couldn’t hear anything, not even the water washing the walls of aquarium. I put my ear onto the glass wall, it feels warm with the water inside, but still heard nothing. The merfolk seemed to be sad realizing this. I saw her open her lips, like saying something, but no sound came out of the aquarium. Disappointed as I was, I couldn’t just go back to bed like that, making myself into a great joke for Tomson. I could imagine how he would make fun of my failed attempt. So I looked around and saw it. Beside her aquarium there were a lot of cages with or without animals inside. If I climb them I might be able to reach the gate of aquarium, which is of course on the top. So I did as I planned. Upon climbing up I could feel those animals being started, as if they would begin barking or howling. However, when I reached and fortunately opened the gate of aquarium, all the tent, again, fell into a strange silence, just like it did earlier that night.

I could not remember very clearly what happened next. I remember seeing her smile, hearing her voice which was even more real than in the performance, and some of her story she told me. She was born in Mississippi River’s Kvuth’lop School, but she was then too interested in the human settlers arriving to the bank. She observed, then approached the settlers. It once seemed they could establish an unusual friendship. Yet they finally uncovered their true purpose, capturing her one night and sold her to the circus for 200 bucks. It was a whole misty unclear memory now. I somehow recall the syllables she uttered. I was sure they were not English, yet I could still understand her. Even better, I not only understood her, I felt sympathy towards her. I felt the exact emotion as she did, I thought what she thought, I memorized what she memorized... When I woke from her story, I found I was in tears again.

Then I knew what I needed to do, in order to rescue her and bring her back to her home.
But it was impossible. Our town was more than two miles from the main branch of the River, and all the near streams were drained due to the gold search. But just before the doubt and fear crossed my mind, her voice started again. In comes another flow of miraculous rhyming, poetic syllables. I learnt in great wonder the daring plan for escape. Out I went.

4 finEKSin [ 2010/05/19(Wed) 12:19 ID:Axu6Aa3I ]
Instead of walking to the river, I strode to the marsh to the north of the village. Nobody likes to get near there during the day, let alone at night. But again, with a strange impulse in my heart I trekked through the boggy swamp, looking for any light in the dark rotten forest. It was very cold and dark in the marsh, with those dead wood randomly stuck by fungi, forming monstrous shapes under dim moonlight. The chilling wind, the exhausting trek and my own weary body continued to wear away my determination. I secretly decide if I could not find any light within half an hour’s search then I would just go back to bed, forget everything happened this night. Pace after pace I went.
Perhaps I really needed to just forget that merfolk and her strange story. That story, in her words, was somehow similar to a European fable. Who wrote that? I had not learnt to read very well so I probably just forgot. Not many people can read very well in my childhood, especially in my little village. According to her story, I need to find a leech, and then buy a kind of herb from her, that can help the merfolk escape. I thought that leech might live in a small cot, what I am looking for at the time. Still too strange, I thought. If there was such a good leech living in the marsh, then why no one in our village knew that?

“B’cause onlee someone weeth a fine-ears ken tolk to mee.”
I turned at once, almost startled to yell. In front me there was a leech, half standing, half... crawling. It was a nightmarish sight, seeing an 8-feet-long leech with its head held up, talking with that sucker full of small teeth. I fell frozen at its presence. And soon I was in its grip.

It entwined around my body like a snake. I could felt the slick skin of it rubbing my own. I could smell the rotten herbs, the muddy month and the taste of blood. And it opened its sucker.
I will say it was quite funny feeling, I could feel my blood being sucked out from my shoulder. My hands and legs and ears and nose felt colder. I knew my stream of life was being drained, just like those gold miners draining the veins of the Nature. However, at the same time I felt so happy, strangely happy. It was like a slight shock spreading from my left shoulder to all of me. I then saw the light, great light, of all colors.
“Heaven!”, I cried out.

To my great disappointment, the blood payment only lasted for a few minutes. The leech put the herbs and swampy mud mixture onto my palm and told me to return. “Spesiaal offer foor zah farst time komer,” said the leech, grinning. I never knew such a “mouth” could grin like that.

On my way back to the circus site, I gladly discovered that all the weariness I felt before was gone. I was not tired anymore, nor was I hungry. What’s more, I even felt magically relaxed. One word, I felt at the top of the earth. Even today I can still feel the craving for the kiss of the good old leech in the marsh. I need to tell myself all the time one more dose of its venom can put me to death.

5 finEKSin [ 2010/05/19(Wed) 12:21 ID:Axu6Aa3I ]
Anyway, she seemed to be very glad when she saw me with herb reappearing. As for the herb the leech gave me and how she knew what the merfolk wanted, I have not the least clue. I can only guess either these two races must have a long history of acquaintance, or it, I am reluctant to think about it, might have read my thought by consuming my blood. Nonetheless, she wouldn’t have swallowed that mixture without hesitating.
At first few seconds there seemed to be nothing happening. “Is it a failed?” My stomach descended, because I was only too depressed to let down this merfolk girl.

But then it was me who first notice the change. I guess the herb might not have a strong feeling along with its effect, so that if she would not even realize the change herself. I couldn’t help making such a stiffened astonished look, when the merfolk in front of me began to turn into a pure human...

Her lower body began to melt, dissolving into two human legs. Like a dream, I saw the toes, heel, ankle, lower leg, kneel, and finally all of the leg divided. I helped her out, blushing nervously because of the presence of a human girl in such infant nudity. I then helped to find clothes for her.

Standing before me, she opened her lips again.

But I could not hear anything. No, not anything. Although I did feel the animals in the tent were unrest. Just like that fable story goes, the merfolk maid was then a deaf human girl. I knew we needed to haste, for once those beasts’ howling and barking awaken the guards we would have little chance to escape. We ran along the drained stream behind my house, which must leads to a branch of the Mississippi.

On our way we had no choice but to rest several times, because she was not quite used to her new legs, besides, my shoes were not big enough to lend to her. I was very anxious, afraid that the guards would have found the escaped merfolk and made our effort in vain. So you can understand why I was once again moved to tears when I saw the branch, as if I too was born there and kidnapped and sold to a circus. The tears blurred my sight, so I didn’t see others of the School coming...

They began to speak, one after another, showing their gratitude, calling me a champion of merfolk. Oh! That touching voice now is doubled, tripled, quadrupled...echoed in all the merfolks surrounding. I could hardly stand my bursting heart (both physically and mentally). Then there came a brief rest of a symphony, marking the beginning of a new movement. It is concerto
The old leader of the School rose from the water surface, with whiskers like cat fish, and began his piano like voice. Other members of the orchestra sometimes agreed, or gave brief sustaining explanations, making it a heavenly harmony. I felt I was dissolving into the world of waters, of falls, of lakes, of rivers, and of the merfolk. That night we danced and sang. The merfolk girl I saved, though, did not open her lips again. As other members explained, a merfolk who turned himself into human is very hard to be turned back. I wondered whether she would need to kill someone with a dagger, maybe those settlers, in order to return to her School...

6 finEKSin [ 2010/05/19(Wed) 12:22 ID:Axu6Aa3I ]
The next morning, I found myself lying in the cold mud of the drained stream behind my house, could hardly remember anymore about the previous night’s fest.
After that night I found my life entirely altered. Human entertainment no longer appealed to me, and others, including Tomson, no longer thought I was just a little boy. From then, they sometimes even fear me, for my pair of ears with fins attached...


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