Ch35: Stolen Oct 4th-21st
By lisa h
Not sure if I am to expect Ian today. My guess is I am now destined to starve. Either way, there are storms coming up from the south, and I don’t think he could get here even if he wanted to.
Ian must have been and gone in the early hours. I wake to find the pier has had supplies left on it. I guess I’ll not starve in the next couple of weeks.
I sit at the edge of the loch, on the far side where there’s a second fishing platform. For three hours I’ve been here and had not a single tug. I thought I was getting pretty good at this fishing business, but suddenly the fish have stopped biting.
Maybe it’s the cold, or the weather. Maybe they go into a kind of hibernation or live at the bottom of the pond at this time of the year. Whatever the reason, I can’t get them to bite. The trout have become vital to me. Not sure what I’m going to do for food now. Just got to hope Ian doesn’t stop his secret food drops.
The weather closes in and I pack up the fishing gear. I walk home via the tidal pool. Water laps at the beach. When the tide goes out I’ll come back. Time to figure out how to cook and eat seafood.
The tide is pretty much at its lowest point when I get to the north end of the island. I’m so hungry for fresh food, sick of tins of meat mush. I need proper food to grow a healthy baby. That’s why I’m here, with my trusty favourite stick and a bucket.
I step carefully out into the bed of the tidal pool. The seaweed reeks of dead fish and is slippy beyond reason. Underneath sharp rocks and boulders are hidden. Old stacks of granite that came tumbling down an age ago and are now out to kill me. All I need to do is slip once and I could end up dead.
A vision flashes before me, I catch my foot on something slimy and go down. The back of my head smacks onto a sharp rock and I’m out for the count, blood pouring from the wound. The tide turns and claims my body. A shudder runs through me. Step carefully, I tell myself. Make sure that never happens.
I don’t risk going too far from the beach and start poking the larger piles of seaweed with my stick. It doesn’t take long for the tip to make contact with something that moves. I poke again and whatever it is shifts. I put my bucket on its side and poke again. The crab’s had enough of being tormented and dashes away from the stick and straight into my bucket.
“Got you!” I grab the handle and right the bucket before the crab can escape. He’s a big one, the back of his shell at least four inches across, and heavy. Surely there’s lots of meat to eat on this fellow.
Somehow I make it back to the shore without incident. I’ve got my crab, now I need to figure out what to do with. I have a vague memory of my dearly departed granny cooking a crab. I must have been five, and she’d taken me for holiday at Breen. Rented a small caravan and the two of us had five days all to ourselves. On one of those days we visited what she called a proper fishmongers. Run by locals, supplied early in the morning by the fishermen, and once everything was sold the owner would shut up for the day. I had been fascinated by the crabs in a tank, so she bought one for dinner.
I remember crying when she dropped it in the pan of hot water. There’d been a squeal that she assured me was air escaping and not the crab shrieking in pain. I only watched her prepare it from morbid fascination, and refused to eat any.
Now here I am, halfway back to the cottage with my very own crab. Somehow I had to remember what she did. I don’t even know if any parts are poisonous. My stomach rumbles and I decide that I no longer care.
Back inside the warm, I fill a pan with water and set it to boil. I have no idea how long to boil it for and decide on twenty minutes.
“I’m so sorry,” I say to the crab as the water begins to bubble.
Gingerly I reach inside the bucket. The crab snaps at me, and I yank my hand back.
“Not going without a fight, eh? Don’t blame you. Neither am I.”
I give it another crack, trying to be braver this time. My fingers graze the edge of the shell when it whips a giant claw around and clamps the pincers onto my thumb.
I jerk my hand back again and suck on the skin where it pinched me.
“That’s it. Your time is up!”
I reach out, fast this time, and before the crab can work out what I’m doing, take hold of the edge of the body. Without any hesitation I heft it into the pan. Boiling water splashes out and I jump back. The crab’s in the water and suddenly I feel awful. I’ve just shoved a living creature in a pan of boiling water. What a horrid way to die.
Needs must, and I’m hungry despite what I’ve done. I glance at the clock and begin timing.
Twenty minutes later and the shell has changed to a much nicer pink colour, like I’ve seen in the shops when you buy a cooked one. I drain the water and give it a quick rinse under the cold tap. I set myself up at the counter. I’ve watched enough cookery shows to know I need implements. I have a fork, knife, hammer and pliers out. Who know what else I’ll need, so I’ve left the little toolkit handy on the sofa.
First thing I do is give a small tug on one of the legs. I expect it to come away easily, but pulling gently does nothing at all. I pull harder and give a little twist and one of the big claws comes off. Some of the meat sticks out. I tear it off and pop it in my mouth. The taste is exquisite after weeks of tinned yuck. Wasting no time, I smash the claw with the hammer. The shell splinters but I don’t care. I pick the shards off and eat the meat. My mouth won’t stop watering.
It takes me half an hour to get through the legs. The body is harder to tackle. I somehow break it into two segments. The smaller part has these grey things that that I think Granny called fingers or something. I also remember her telling me the best meat was behind there. The main body puts me off with all the mushy inners. Touching it turns my stomach, so I use a teaspoon and scoop out the gunk. There’s grey meat behind it, lots of it. I think it’s edible, but I hesitate. The possibility of poisoning myself is still foremost in my mind. I take the fork and tease out a small amount. If it tastes bad then I’ll spit it out. But it tastes good, it all does, so much better than the stuff you get at the supermarket.
Eating the crab takes me all afternoon, cleaning up seems to take almost as long again, and I’m ready for a light dinner by the time I’m done. Mum and Dad would be so proud of me, seeing me catch and cook food, adapting to a new environment, making do in a bad situation.
“Screw you, Ian. See if I starve. I’ll do just fine, thank you,” I say to the empty room.
My words are bravado, and as soon as I’ve said them the loneliness sets in again. I curl up on the sofa, cuddling one of the cushions and stare out the window, watching as the storm lashes the island.