Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "The Fish That Water Sees"

From today's fishbowl, this was prompted and sponsored by [personal profile] ng_moonmoth. It also fills the "special children" square in my 10-1-20 card for the Fall Festival Bingo. It belongs to An Army of One series.


"The Fish That the Water Sees"


Jorje is sure the assignment
will be a piece of cake.

He's supposed to spy on
the Lacuna, and everyone
knows that the special children
can't read social cues very well.

He'll have no trouble slipping in,
finding out what's for real,
and slipping back out.

It's a complete disaster.

Everyone he meets --
everyone -- somehow knows
that he's not one of them.

It doesn't matter how hard
Jorje tries to fit in, to mimic
what other people are doing;
somehow they just know.

"You must not be from
around here," they say
as they offer him a room
or a map or advice about
something he should
have done differently.

They are careful and
meticulous, the greeters
treating him with odd courtesy
even as some other people
avoid him altogether.

"Don't do that, it's rude
to follow people who don't
want company," a man says,
gently steering him away
from his efforts to trail
one of the skulkers.

"It's a public lounge,"
Jorje protests, although
it's bigger than that, sort of
an open space between
the shops and offices.

Agora, someone called it.

"That doesn't give you a right
to bother people just because
they're here," the man says.

It's like that everywhere he goes,
and it's driving Jorje crazy.

He can't do his job when
everyone is watching him
because he doesn't belong.

He's worse than a fish out of water;
he's the fish that the water sees.

Worst of all is that the locals
keep asking him about his mission,
as if it's something he can talk about!

Jorje knows -- he's been told --
that most of the Lacuna residents
used to be spies back in the war,
but this is just ridiculous.

After Backup says, "Give
my regards to my family,"
Jorje gives up and slinks back
to the Carina-Sagittarius Arm.

General Fallon is surprisingly
understanding about it all.

"They may be freaks, but
they always were good at
what they do," he says.

"Then why not send a spy
like them?" Jorje says.

General Fallon grimaces.
"Because every freak we've
sent in there has gone native."

* * *

Notes:

Jorje -- a neurotypical man of nondescript appearance from the Carina-Sagittarius Arm. General Fallon sends him to spy on the Lacuna, but the mission is an abject failure because every notices that Jorje is an outsider. Introduced in "The Fish That the Water Sees."
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, science fiction, weblit, writing
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