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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
Thrash, Shake, Wiggle, and Bounce

Callum stood on the deck of his fatherís fishing boat. The sun was at the edge of the horizon. Its golden rays would soon explode into the morning sky. The clouds shone red and the scent of the sea filled the air. Seagulls were just beginning to waken. Only a few flew high above the harbor, anticipating their morning meal. "Callum, Iím going to be busy. Go to the back of the boat and sit there. Try to stay out of the way when Jamie and Robbie put the nets out," his father warned.

Callum leapt from the dock to the back of the boat, finding a place to sit near a coil of rope. He enjoyed the times his father let him come along and new to stay out of the way while the men worked. The hours passed slowly as the boat chugged through the cold, dark sea. The sun lifted higher into the sky as Jamie and Robbie brought the nets up. "Watch out, Callum," Jamie shouted. He moved out of the way as the net was lowered. It spilled the dayís catch onto the deck. Fish flopped about, their tails and fins wriggling as they tried to find their way back into the sea.

A mackerel made its way toward Callum. He took his hand and tried to push it back among the rest of the squirming fish. Much to his surprise, the mackerel grabbed onto Callumís hand with its mouth, trying to swallow it. "Let go of my hand," Callum shouted, trying to shake the fish off. It wouldnít let go. Jamie and Robbie laughed as Callum thrashed his hand about, but the fish held on tight.

Callum knelt on the deck to get better leverage and put his knee down on top of a bright red starfish. It wrapped its five fingers around Callumís knee and held on. "A starfish?" Callum shouted. He started shaking his leg, trying to get the starfish to fall off, but it held on like glue. Jamie and Robbie laughed as Callum thrashed his hand about and shook his leg, but the mackerel and the starfish wouldnít let go.

When Callum stepped backwards, a clam bit down on his shoe. He shook his foot but the clam wouldnít let go. "Get off my shoe!" Callum shouted, but the clam held on tight. Jamie and Robbie laughed as Callum thrashed his hand about, shook his leg, and wiggled his foot, but the mackerel, starfish and clam wouldnít let go.

As he was jumping about on the deck, he stepped on the end of a shovel that Jamie sometimes used to scoop the fish into the hold. He didnít see the small grayish-brown octopus that was sitting on it. Suddenly it went flying through the air and landed with a plop, right on top of Callumís head. Its tentacles flopped onto his face and neck. Callum shook his head, trying to get the octopus off. "Get off my head," he shouted, shaking it back and forth, but the octopus clung tightly and held on. Jamie and Robbie laughed and laughed as Callum thrashed his hand about, shook his leg, wiggled his foot, and bounced his head around, but the mackerel, starfish, clam and octopus wouldnít let go.

All that shaking and jumping about made Callum lose his balance. He fell backwards and landed on top of the coiled rope. A crab, trying to escape the hold, had crawled inside the rope and used one of its sharp claws to pinch Callumís backside. "OUCH!" he shouted. He jumped up and wiggled his backside about, trying to shake the crab off. "Get off me. Stop pinching me!" he shouted.

Jamie and Robbie stood watching him. They were laughing so hard that they nearly fell over the side of the boat. Seagulls hovered overhead, swooping down at Callum, trying to bite off the octopus on his head. They squawked as Callum thrashed his hand about, shook his leg, wiggled his foot, bounced his head back and forth, and jumped up and down, but the mackerel, starfish, clam, octopus and crab wouldnít let go.

"Whatís going on here?" asked Callumís dad, coming around from the front of the boat. He saw Jamie and Robbie laughing and then saw his son. "Callum? What are you doing?" When he saw how funny Callum looked dancing about the deck, trying to shake the creatures off, he began to laugh too.

Callum shouted, "Help me, somebody!"

His dad sloshed through the wriggling fish that were squirming about on the deck. He picked up an old bucket filled with old fish bones, dumped them out and pulled the crab off Callumís backside. "OUCH!" Callum shouted. He stopped jumping up and down as his dad dropped it in the bucket. He then pried the octopus off his head and dropped it in the bucket with the crab. Callum stopped shaking his head back and forth.

He pulled the clam off Callumís foot and dropped it in the bucket with the crab and the octopus. Callum stopped wiggling his foot. His dad pulled the starfish off his knee and dropped it in the bucket with the clam, octopus and crab. Callum stopped shaking his leg. Finally he grabbed the mackerel by its tail, pulled, and it slipped off Callumís hand. He dropped it in the bucket with the starfish, clam, octopus and crab. Callum stopped thrashing his hand about.

"Here you go, son," his dad said, handing him the bucket. "Go and make yourself some seafood stew!" he laughed, rubbing Callumís head.

And thatís exactly what Callum did. He poured the contents of the bucket into a big, black kettle and added water, salt and some chopped onion. He boiled the mackerel, starfish, clam, octopus and crab and then sat down to eat the stew. He was just about to take the first bite when Robbie shouted, "Whale off the starboard bow!"

"Oh no!" cried Callum. "Not a whale!" He ran outside and saw the whale. It was monstrous in size and headed right for their fishing boat. As it neared, it opened its mouth wide. "Here we go again! Whoís going to take the whale off this time?" Callum sighed as the whale swallowed him and the boat :-)

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