The Finta could not entice any boats to sail his way. He lured them with pineapples, laid out neatly on the shore, and mangoes, and bright kiwi slices. But when the sailors spied his hulking mass, a red and yellow mottled shell rising up from the island, they gave the whole place a wide berth. They did not believe him when he cried out that he only wanted company, or perhaps they simply did not understand his language.
During his naming ceremony, the Finta had been dubbed Talain, which meant “tiny and stubborn”. After the other Fintas accepted the offer of the Bantal and took to the stars, Talain was alone, for he could not bear to leave his island, with the quietly swaying gulnig trees, and the wind washing over his body, and the sun that rose warm and bright. He had lived for many years on his island, which he had never named, but simply thought of as home.
When the sailors were not lured by his offering of fruits, Talain sang. He sang every song he knew, songs of valor and romance, songs of brave deeds, songs only sung when one had drunk too much Yunta beer, and songs of sorrow that he had heard his grandsire chant when the tide brought only dark water.
But still, the sailors would not come.
With a great heave, Talain uprooted his island and paddled farther out to sea. The water felt cool and crisp beneath his flippers, reminding him of how he swam as a child, before he became big enough to settle in one place.
Talain could not travel very fast, and sometimes he simply drifted, happy to go where the ocean would take him. Although he saw no more sailors, Talain sang. Drinking songs were his favorite.
He was singing in just this way when he heard another voice match his, a clear octave above his own. They sang together, a raunchy song about a drunken Finta who passed out and woke up with a note tied around his small flipper.
Talain swam towards the source of the voice, but he made slow progress, for the current was not always his friend. But sound carries far across the ocean, and Finta have loud singing voices.
As the years passed, he learned many new songs.
Three times, he lost the sound of the other voice, for the wind obscured its direction, scattering the melody until he could hear it no more. Three times he despaired, and three times rejoiced when his ears again caught the sound, as if it had never disappeared, as if it had always been with him.
In his fifth year of swimming, he spotted a speck on the horizon. Perhaps a boat or an island, a whale or a mirage. By his sixth year of swimming, the speck had morphed into an island topped by a mottled red and yellow shell.
That year, Talain composed a new song. An ode to Yunta beer, and mangoes, and the smell of the ocean. The sort of song that can only be sung as a duet.
Before becoming a stay-at-home mom to two wonderful twin girls, Beth Goder worked as an archivist, processing the papers of economists, scientists, and other interesting folks. She is a percussionist and avid reader.