There once was a lowly fisherman who lived with his wife by the sea. They were a sun-creased wind-swept couple with work-roughened hands, and they lived modestly in a wood and tarpaper hovel on the beach.
One day, as the fisherman bobbed gently on the water in his boat, he noticed a beautiful blue and green fish, the likes of which he had never seen before. It flapped frantically beside him, its tail tangled in fishing line, and he leant over the edge to look more closely at it. As he stared, the fish startled him greatly by speaking.
“Untangle me, please, fisherman, and let me swim away,” begged the fish in a high silvery voice. “For I am not good to eat, and I value my freedom above all else.”
The fisherman merely goggled at the beautiful blue and green fish.
“Help me, please, kind fisherman!” urged the fish once more.
And so, the fisherman took hold of the tangled line, working gently and carefully to untangle it and free the unhappy fish. It took some minutes, during which the fish lay still, observing the fisherman with wise, unafraid eyes.
At last, the tail came free, and the fisherman steadied the fish under water until it recovered its strength. And then, with a great joyous swoop, the fish dove deep into the sea, leaving a hollow of water behind him that did not fill up for some time.
Well, well, well, thought the fisherman, what an odd day I have had at sea.
And he set off for home, pleased with himself for having such an interesting adventure to report to his wife.
But when he returned home and told his wife the story of the beautiful fish, she became furious and began to beat him about the head with a slipper.
“You fool!” she cried. “You miserable cretin! You half-witted bumbling imbecile!”
“But, my darling,” protested the fisherman. “What have I done?”
The woman slapped him again. “Any ordinary fool would have recognized a magic fish when he saw it. That fish might have granted us any wish in all the world, if only you hadn’t been such a boneheaded bumpkin!”
The fisherman looked abashed. “I am sorry, dear wife. But what would we have wished for? We are happy with our simple life.”
The woman snorted. “Happy? Look at me! My hair smells of rotting fish, my breasts sag nearly to my waist, and my face could be mistaken for a crocodile’s.” Here she began to sob. “No one would ever imagine I was once young and beautiful.”
“True,” admitted the fisherman. “But I barely noticed you growing old. I, too, stink of fish and am not as young as I once was. Yet I still love and admire you as you are.”
“How can you?” wept his wife. “Any man would prefer a smooth-skinned, pert-breasted young girl to a horrible wrinkled old harridan.” She sobbed bitterly, and although the fisherman tried to reassure her that she was wrong on this point, and many others as well, it was no good. At last he knelt down before her.
“Please, dear wife. If only you will cease your wailing, I will set out first thing tomorrow and find the beautiful fish. I will ask him whatever you wish me to ask, and if he is, as you say, a magic fish, your wish shall be granted.”
At this, the wife stopped weeping. She sat up at once and dried her eyes. “All right,” she sniffed. “Tell the fish that your wife wishes for the restoration of her youth and beauty.”
“But surely there is a better-”
“Go and tell the fish what I have asked for.”
So the next morning, the fisherman guided his little boat out to sea, and soon found the place where he had caught the beautiful fish. Feeling somewhat foolish, he called out to the blank green sea.
“Magic fish? Magic fish? Are you out there, oh fish?” And before many minutes had passed, a splashing and a flash of colour announced the presence of the beautiful fish. It poked its head out of the water beside his boat.
“Hello, my saviour,” said the fish in his silvery voice. “How can I help you?”
“Oh fish!” cried the fisherman. “My wife has sent me to ask if you would grant her a wish. ”
“Tell me her wish,” said the fish.
“My wife would like to be young and beautiful,” said the fisherman, and he blushed with shame.
But the fish merely shrugged. “It is done, fisherman,” he said. “Go home to your beautiful young wife.” And with that he dove deep into the sea, leaving a great gaping hole in the water that did not fill up for some time.
A little while later, as the fisherman winched his boat up onto the shore, a graceful young woman greeted him. For a moment he did not recognize her.
“It is I! Your wife,” said the young woman, fluttering her lashes and shaking her youthful booty. “How do you like me?”
“Well enough,” said the fisherman, though he could not hide the uncertainty in his voice.
Later that night in bed, the fisherman ran his hands along her youthful curves with disbelief, and it was many exhausting hours before he managed to satisfy her youthful desires.
For a few days, the fisherman and his wife lived in peace. But one morning, he awoke to find her whispering in his ear.
“Husband, I am not happy with the youth and beauty I once had. I want to be younger and more beautiful than ever before. I want great big breasts and legs up to my armpits. I want cascades of blonde hair and huge blue eyes. I want bee-stung lips and the complexion of a ten-year-old girl.”
“Oh, wife,” begged the fisherman, “Please think again! It is not right to ask for these things.”
“Never mind,” said his wife. “That is my desire. Go and tell your fish.”
The man’s heart was heavy. He did not wish to summon the fish again, and for such a wish as this! But his wife beseeched and implored him, and in the end, he gave in.
Bobbing far out on the blank green sea once more, he called out: “Magic fish? Magic fish? Are you there, dear fish?” And before many minutes had passed, there came a splashing and a flash of colour, and suddenly the beautiful fish poked its head out of the water.
“Hello, my saviour,” said the fish in his silvery voice. “How may I help you now?”
“Oh fish!” cried the fisherman. “My wife has sent me back to ask if you would grant her another wish.”
“Certainly,” said the fish. “What does she require now? World peace? An end to hunger and disease? That all men and women shall be happy?”
“No, fish,” said the fisherman mournfully. “It is none of those things. She wishes to be younger still, with huge breasts and blonde hair, legs up to her armpits, bee stung lips, the face of a ten year old girl and big blue eyes.” He took a deep breath.
“How peculiar,” said the fish. “Why would she desire such things?”
The fisherman shook his head. “I do not know, fish.” And a tear trickled down his cheek.
The fish shrugged. “Never mind. It is done,” he said. “Go home to your big-breasted wife.” And with that he dove deep into the sea, leaving a hole in the water so deep, it did not fill up for nearly an hour.
As the fisherman winched his boat up onto the shore, a woman arrived to greet him. She had huge breasts, a vast mane of blonde hair, legs up to her armpits, puffy swollen lips and skin so fine and white, he feared it had already begun to scorch in the sun. He stared at her for a moment in disbelief.
“How do you like me, now?” asked his wife, joggling her huge breasts and tossing her vast mane of hair.
“I like you well enough, wife,” choked the fisherman, aghast, and he had to turn away to hide his disgust.
That night, when they went to bed, the fisherman lay as far away as possible from his deformed wife, and pretended to be asleep.
For a few days, the fisherman and his wife lived in peace. He found that if he avoided looking at her, he could pretend she was still the woman he loved. But she was not.
“Husband,” she cried, one morning as he set out in his boat. “I am still not happy with my appearance.”
“Oh, wife,” murmured the fisherman wearily, “no more changes, please, I beg you.”
She frowned. “Go back and tell your fish I require bigger breasts, and thinner thighs. Tell him my thighs should be no wider than fishing rods and each of my boobs must be big enough to fill a bucket.”
“I can not tell the fish these things,” replied the fisherman, shaking his head with sorrow.
“You can,” said his wife. “For I desire it. Go and tell your fish my wish.”
The fisherman’s heart was heavy. But his wife shouted and cajoled and wheedled, and in the end, the fisherman set off once more. The weather had begun to change, and he guided his little boat out across a wild rolling sea filled with dangerous peaks and troughs. The boat groaned with protest, and the poor fisherman wondered whether either of them would survive the journey.
“Fish?” He called out from the crest of a wave, straining to be heard over the storm. “Magic fish, magic fish? Are you out there, sweet fish?” There came a howling wind, the sea leapt up even higher than before, and the fisherman had to grip the gunnels of his little craft to avoid being thrown overboard. But before many minutes had passed, he spied a flash of colour near the side of his little boat, and the beautiful fish poked its head out of the water.
“Hello, my saviour,” said the fish in his silvery voice, which managed to carry over the sound of the raging storm. “How can I help you this time?” “Oh fish!” wept the fisherman. “My wife has sent me back insisting that you grant her one final wish. ”
“Well,” said the fish. “I may grant her one last wish, and I may not, but tell her she must come and ask for it herself.”
So the sorrowful fisherman returned to shore, and despite the fact that the storm showed no sign of abating, the fisherman’s wife (pleased that the fish wanted to meet her in person) set off immediately. Once out in the middle of the crashing green sea, she wasted no time calling out.
“FISH!” she screamed. “FISH! WHERE ARE YOU, YOU OLD TROUT! I WANT MY WISH!!” The beautiful fish rose from the sea more beautiful than ever. The fisherman’s wife had to cover her eyes, or the intensity of his colours would have blinded her.
“Yes?” said the fish in his silvery voice. “May I help you?”
“YOU JOLLY WELL CAN,” shouted the fisherman’s wife. “GIVE ME BOOBS AS BIG AS BUCKETS AND LEGS LIKE A GIRAFFE! GIVE ME LIPS LIKE INNER TUBES, AND THE SKIN OF A ONE DAY OLD BABY! GIVE ME HAIR AS PALE AS MOONLIGHT, AND–” Her eyes were wide and glazed with ecstasy, “MAKE ME A SIZE ZERO!”
The fish thought for a moment. “Why do you wish for these things?” he asked.
The wife stared back, shocked. “Everyone wishes to be young and beautiful. It’s obvious.”
“No,” said the fish, “everyone does not wish for these things. Some wish to be healthy or happy or wise. Some wish to be loved. Some wish to put a stop to suffering and pain. Perhaps you’d like help imagining another wish, one that might last longer than a week. Perhaps, for instance, you might like…a child.”
“STRETCH MARKS!! VOMIT!! SLEEPLESS NIGHTS!!” shrieked the wife.
The fish thought for a moment, while the fisherman’s wife drummed her fingers. “World peace?”
“NOT INTERESTED!” shouted the wife. “It’s too bloody peaceful around here already!”
“A cure for cancer? Hatred? AIDs?” Despite the crashing storm, the fish’s low, silvery voice rang out clearly.
“For a fish, you sure gab a lot. What do I care about those things? Anyway, it’s not my fault people live in Africa and start wars.”
“All right,” said the fish. “I shall grant your wish. But only if you’ll tell me how you grew to be so stupid and selfish.”
The wife sighed. “If I’d known I was going to get the third degree, I’d have sent a telegram.”
The fish waited, and the storm howled louder than ever.
“MY LIFE IS EMPTY,” shouted the wife. “I AM ALONE ALL DAY WITH NOT ANOTHER SOUL TO TALK TO. MY HUSBAND LOVES FISH MORE THAN HE LOVES ME. I’M BORED AND USELESS AND UGLY. FOR ALL MY LIFE IS WORTH, I MAY AS WELL BE DEAD.”
The fish said nothing for a moment. “Very well,” he said at last. “It is done.” And with a huge crash of thunder, he disappeared into the sea leaving a hole as deep as the abyss, and was never seen again.
The fisherman’s wife was never seen again either. Her bucket-sized breasts overbalanced her body and she toppled over the side of the boat, hurtling down, down, down to the very bottom of the abyss, where she was eaten by coelacanths.
And as for the fisherman?
He soon remarried a plain, flat-chested woman with a cheerful disposition and 172 recipes for mackerel.
And they lived happily ever after.