“Come back in!” the fish insisted, daring to break the surface of the water with its head.
“Five more minutes,” said the nearest mudskipper. “You should try it.”
“Yeah,” said another. “Come on out; the air’s lovely.”
The fish began to flap around and not just because of the open air. “It’s not natural, what you’re doing. You’re a fish, like the rest of us. You belong in the sea.”
All the mudskippers laughed at this. What did a fish know? They could remember when all they could do was swim around like the fish did but for some time now they had been venturing out of the waves and having a paddle around on the wet sands. It was fun.
“I might not go back in at all,” said the first mudskipper. He was trying to sound nonchalant but there was no hiding the excitement in his voice. “I might wander up and down this beach a bit. In fact, I might go and have a closer look at those rocks – no! Behind those rocks!”
The other mudskippers gaped in astonishment.
“You can’t!” said one. “That’s too far.”
“And beyond those rocks,” the first one continued. “See those tall things that reach up to the sky. I might go and have a look at them.”
“Ooh,” said several mudskippers. Sensing he was winning a few of them over, the first mudskipper raised his voice.
“We should all go,” he said. “Have a look beyond the rocks. Some of us could live in those tall things – how would you like that? Some of us could keep going, on and on, see what we can find. And some of us,” he lifted a fin to indicate the darkening sky overhead where the first few stars were showing as pinpricks of light, “- some of us, one day, might even make our way all the way to those shining things up there. Who’s with me?”
The mudskippers opened and closed their mouths. Some rolled their bulbous eyes and made their way back to the familiarity of the incoming tide.
But some of them, their spirit of adventure ignited, followed that first visionary mudskipper away from the water’s edge, not knowing what might become of them or what they might become and, after all, what could possibly go wrong?