Girl Fishers

by Eva Langston

Do you know of the girl fishers?  They are drunken men in wooden boats who cast out lines with dolls on the hooks, in hopes of luring little girls out to sea. 

I got tangled up with one, you know, though I was not a girl.  I was a full-grown woman of forty, but he baited me all the same. 

I was wandering down the beach at dusk, sucking on a rock and pretending it was taffy.  The orange sun was melting, and behind my back the sea grasses whispered rudely along the dunes.  “Empty,” they hissed.  “Ugly.  Alone.”  Above me seagulls screamed as they fought against the wind.

Bobbing on the foam was a baby head with a face bleached white as bone.  Its eyes were green-green glass, its pink mouth was painted on.  And when I saw it, I felt as if it had come from my own plastic womb.

“My darling dear!” I cried, running towards the head.  “What are you doing here?”  My heart swelled to melon-sized proportions, and I spit my rock taffy to the sand.

But little did I know, the old man was nearby in his leaky boat, watching me with blood-shot eyes.  Before the head had a chance to answer, he gave a yank on the line, and off the doll went through the waves. 

I waded into the ocean, crabs biting on my toes.  There it was – my baby at last – drifting in the salty deep.  I swam after her – yes, her.  I knew she was a girl, though she had nothing to prove it.  Sometimes you don’t need a body to know.      

And then I had her in my arms, and the old man had me in his.  It happened so fast, it seemed, and yet in truth, we fought for days.  He pulled me in, and I pulled away, like the sperm whale and Captain Ishmael.    

But now he had me flopped belly-up on the deck, my skin puckered, my blow hole dry. Next to me the doll head cried. The girl fisher drank a cupful of rum, his body leaking as much as his boat. We were married two minutes later, underneath the sliver of a liver-colored moon. I didn't love him, but there was the baby to think of. And besides, the old man would die soon.

Eva Langston received her MFA from the University of New Orleans, and her fiction has been published in The Normal School, The Sand Hill Review, and the GW Review, among others. She recently quit her job teaching high school math to focus on writing. She now works as a curriculum consultant and a Skype tutor for Ukrainians. Follow her adventures at