I hear your voice on the wind
And I hear you call out my name
The net sinks down into the water and when it is pulled back up, silver fish gleam in the fading sunlight, flopping to and fro, and gasping for air. I marvel at it for what seems like the hundredth time, even though I have been watching this skill for no more than two weeks.
At first it seemed like a silly game they played, but the settlers are earnest in their undertakings. Every morning, at first light, the men from the settlement will wander out from their homes, taking boxes and nets with them, bags with lunches, and an array of other tools they use for their trade. Then they all make their way to the shore, get into their boats, and float out to the open water. Throughout the day they will set nets and traps and put out their fishing lines. They sing tunes and laugh with each other across the waters that separate them.
It seems to me that all of the men, both young and old alike, partake in this trade. The women will stay home to raise children, bake breads, do laundry and prepare meals for when the men return. Some of the families even tend farms that cover the fields around the settlement. All of them move like one body each day; all except for one. I followed him one day when I noticed he did not join the men on the main shore. He seems lighter skinned than the others. He has a cloth covering one eye, and a jagged scar that peaks out underneath the covering. When he goes out each day, he travels through the brush and over some of the small cliffs, to reach a hidden cove. Here he fishes from the shore. He has no boat, but he brings his net and pole and basket each day, and fishes until the sun is ready to set. I follow him every day now. I watch his movements, and the tactics he uses to lure the fish into their trap.
The first day I saw this settlement, I was scouting. It is my chosen job in our colony. There are many other high standing jobs I had qualified for, but as a scouter I could see beyond our closed off city. My duty was to look for other settled areas we could build, for we are always expanding in numbers. I was to also look out for trouble. Anything that was too close to our city that could pose a threat. It is a quite job most of the time. The biggest threat we have had was when a mother whale swam too close to the Island our city is built on, and sprayed water over some of the members of the Skein. The Skein is our authority. They make the decisions and rules for us to abide by, and by us I mean the flock, my people.
I stretch my wings out and prepare to take off again. I have already spent far too much time away from the city and people will begin to wonder what has happened. People are always wondering.
“I will return tomorrow,” I say, just like every evening. I know he cannot hear me, but it makes me feel as though somehow I am connected to this settlement. That somehow I owe them for the service they do not know they give me.
My feathers ruffle in the strong wind that brushes the top of the cliff I have perched on. As my bare feet hit the ground in a run, my wings stretch out and catch the breeze, lifting me up into the sky. Apart from singing, flying is my favorite thing to do. I close my eyes and let the wind guide me from side to side. I am meant to have a partner, but after much complaining the Skein has agreed to allow me search time alone. Most of the other flock members are loyal to a fault when it comes to the Skein. They talk nonstop about how the Skein has our best interest in mind, the Skein will someday find a perfect settlement for us; the Skein would never let us down. But the Skein is just another authority. When I am flying alone, coasting from one air current to the next, I am free.