“Life has its moments of truth.”生命中总有必须直面的时刻。亲人的离开固然让人痛彻心扉，但为了活着的人，即使自己再悲痛，生活再艰难，也要继续下去。稚嫩的孩子也许还无法体会父亲的艰辛，但所有的悲痛、付出、牺牲只需要一句简单的“I love you”就足矣。爱可以含蓄，但有时爱更需要说出来。
Women weren't supposed to die in childbirth, not anymore. It had taken 12 months, 1)mesmerised by a helpless baby and 2)numbed by her mother's death, but finally he'd allowed himself to grieve properly. Sometimes though, it came back. Warm tears misted his cold dive mask. Lifting its seal he let seawater in, bathing his face, 3)erasing the sadness. He took a long breath, jack-knifed注1 and finned downward.
Ocean was up. 4)Coarse sand patched 5)tawny reef beneath. Strong 6)ground-swell sucked, sent the grains swirling. “Like 7)snorkelling through a snowstorm,” he thought and grimly admitted he oughtn't be out there, skirting the drop-off where 8)dumpers curled then crunched. But he and little Lizzie had to eat and he'd refused the 9)dole. Every other 10)deckhand signed on after the local lobster grounds got re-zoned “11)marine park.” Not him. 12)Scrutinised like some criminal 13)malingerer? Bugger that! No, he and his small daughter could survive on his dive skills. Fresh fish, if not directly consumed, were straight cash-in-hand exchange or top 14)barter—if he could find them. Today, surrounded by sandy soup, that wouldn't be easy.
Simple but effective, his Hawaiian sling注2. Pacific Islanders had used similar 15)hand-spears for millennia. Firing rubber, looped 16)twixt thumb and forefinger, got stretched along 17)shaft, held, spear was aimed, released quick: 18)Whack!
Pinching nose, he kicked deeper. A large sweep's white-tipped tail showed, then vanished in the sand stir. He finned upwards, heart thumping double-time. 19)Cramp 20)crimped one thigh. Two 21)strenuous hours gone—no result. Hitting 22)choppy surface, he spouted, sucked air and shivered. Wetsuit was old, 23)perforated, retained 24)scant body heat, but Lizzie had priority over a new suit. Right now her principal need was nutrition. He must get a table fish.
How his precious little blondie loved her 25)fillets. Right now, spoilt rotten by Faye, the 26)trawlerman's widow, Lizzie was curled beside a fire, sucking thumb, twirling her salt-blonde silk locks and watching Disney videos. What did you call a child no longer a 27)toddler but still needing 28)cuddlesome reassurance? Bloody gorgeous. Sometimes he thought only his love of, and the love from this child, kept him sane.
He dived again, into a gap in the reef. Here the sea surged inshore like a flooding 29)irrigation channel. Swept over 30)writhing 31)bull kelp, he glided into pond-like 32)environs. Reef now formed a barrier to the outside breakers. At last he had fair visibility. Far below lay a sponge-and-weed-matted overhang. This, he knew, concealed a cave-like ledge where, on 33)turbulent days, fish sometimes 34)congregated.
Once more he tilted downward, finning 35)rhythmically. Awkward movement might 36)spook his one chance for a hit. Closing on the overhang, he drifted beneath. In the deep green half-light his eyes adjusted on an easy target.
Like 37)fondling teenagers sprung by a cinema usher's torch, two 38)butterfish all but froze, lying nose to nose, tails fanned just enough to retain station against the 39)algaed reef wall. Butterfish weren't prime eating but, at five kilos, the biggest meant many fishcakes. He fired—head shot, a clean kill.
Butterfish 40)towed on his float-line, he swam shoreward. The surviving fish followed, shadowing, circling its dead mate, dreadful in its uncomprehending sorrow. He felt hollow as an empty shell.
An hour later that hollowness, like the southern ocean's coldness, persisted. He'd begun to fillet. Lizzie was studying the process. Head barely as high as the low kitchen bench, Lizzie's own gaze met the fish's sightless one. Then, earnest sea-blue irises fixed upon her father's, she asked, “Daddy, do fish cry?”
Life has its moments of truth. This was one.
After a sober minute between himself and the fish, he asked, “Lizzie, you like baked beans, yeah?”
This didn't mean he would not cook the butterfish. It's life taken, it must be eaten. Simply, never again would he spear one fish of a mating pair—even if, in its place, very ordinary fare had to be 41)partaken.
Lizzie's face 42)frowned in 43)contemplation before she replied: “But beans make me fart.” The pronouncement's 44)solemnity, and the way she sucked her bottom lip after making it, was pure comedy. But aware of his child's sensitivity, he mustn't laugh. Suppressed 45)mirth, however, generated warmth in a soul colder from 46)transgressing one of nature's lesser laws: Thou shalt注3 not destroy companionship.
“Hmmm alright,” he said with mock 47)gruffness, “how about two minute noodles?”
“Ooh yes,” responded Lizzie, 48)guileless eyes shining like rock pools on a bright day, “I love noodles!” A smile to turn any sinner saintly. Lizzie's slight arms encircled a thigh hardened by decades of driving swimfins against oceanic surge. Cuddling in she added, “But Daddy, I love you even lots more.”
In this moment a man, not a fish, found himself weeping.
注2：夏威夷吊索，用于鱼叉捕鱼（spearfishing）的设备，唯一活动的部件是矛轴（spear shaft）和橡皮管（rubber tubing）。