How Fish Came to Be

by Christine Cheng
Art by Yash Godiwala
Issue: Metanoia (Winter 2017)

It came as a shock to her.

“Sedna, a young man is here to see you,” her father smiled. “Do you know him?”

Sedna stayed put in her chair, her eyes focused on her musty tapestry. Any man that came to their house only asked for one thing. “I don’t.”

“It’s about time you finally accepted a man and got married. Everyone’s asking your hand because you are the Sea Goddess of our generation. Having you as a wedded wife means millennia of good luck for other villages”

Sedna was silent.  

Her dad opened the door anyway. The chilly wind blasted into the warmth of the small house, and the man walked in. He wiped the frozen crystals off his long lashes and brows and bowed. He seemed too pretty to be real.

“My name is Fulmar. I am here to ask your hand in marriage.”

“Go on, Sedna,” her father said.

Malina, their old and weathered husky, took the opportunity to snap at the strange man.

The wooden table and chair creaked suddenly as Sedna got up and turned around. She gave him a wary eye, but sized him up and looked at her father.

“I think he’s a good match, Sedna. He’d be a good husband.”

“Are you sure?” Maybe he wouldn’t be too bad.


Fulmar, who was quiet during this exchange, suddenly spoke up. “If everything is going as arranged, may I take her back to my village tonight? If I don’t do it soon, the winds will freeze the ocean for months.”

Her father presented a sack that contained the usual dowry as well as cheeses and meats that could be eaten along the journey. “Yes, indeed you may. Sedna, if you please.”

It was as unceremonious as it sounded, but soon Sedna was out in the howling blizzard to the boat which Fulmar had came in. He secured the sack and Sedna, and started rowing into the fog of white. She had taken Malina, their only husky, with her. Malina would not stop growling. They huddled together for warmth as snow whistled through the air and found all the flaws in her cloak.

As they kept traveling, Fulmar’s great size seemed to be whittled away by the wind. Eventually, he morphed into a strange, small animal– a tiny sea bird. He sat there, the poor creature he was, shivering in the cold.

“I was right, there was something odd about you. You’re no man– you’re a seabird!” Sedna sighed, seizing the oars. Her teeth chattered as she started rowing back to her village. “The marriage is off, by the way.”

The bird-or Fulmar-seemed to grow larger. It flew with its full strength, its wings buffeting the air, and attacked Sedna with a screeching cry. She shrieked as Fulmar tore at her already numb fingers and face, trying to render her unable to row. The ocean’s waves crashed even harder, drowning out even the wind. Malina jumped at the bird, snapping his teeth fruitlessly in the air and slashing with his claws, rocking the small boat and terrifying Sedna more and more. Suddenly, the waves, wind, and boat worked together to force Sedna in a position where she was gripping the side of the boat for her life. Fulmar dove at her fingers so that Sedna’s weight wouldn’t overturn the boat, while Malina tipped it even more by lunging at the bird.

The paralysis of the cold ocean was starting to set into her body. She knew the ocean would swallow her- those who fell into the ocean would not live if they didn’t warm themselves up within minutes. Finally, the boat capsized, and she fell deeper and deeper into the dark. Her flesh was slowly dissolving and becoming one with the sea,  fizzing and hissing into bubbles. She opened her mouth to scream, but the ocean sucked her voice and breath away. Surprised that she could open her eyes with ease, her gaze fell upon wriggling, worm-like appendages. She later realized that those were her severed fingers, morphing into different kinds of scaly, streamlined and small animals.

Sedna suddenly realized that she was still alive, and the water around her was becoming warmer and warmer. She stuck her hand out in front of her only to see a strange, faint blue glow. The strange little creatures congregated around it.

“I’ll call you fish.”

Sedna the Sea Goddess still lives to this day.