The best days of my life were at Grandfather’s. His house was little more than a brickwork shack up on the mountain, but to me, he owned a palace.
In the daytime I read, listened to old records, and played board games with myself. Grandfather did not own a television. We spent a big of chunk of every afternoon sleeping. After all, we had to rest for fishing.
Grandfather insisted on going fishing at night. The stars were always bright and plentiful, and the lake hid in the mountains, silent as the moon. His rowing boat creaked from side the side, tied up on a small jetty, alone on the water.
Our journey to the middle of the lake took a good twenty minutes, even with the long steady strokes that Grandfather had perfected over sixty years.
We didn’t chat much when fishing. Grandfather always focused a lot on the water. If he did speak, it was in oblique tips like ‘it’s always better to be out here with the moon’ and 'you need to know which ones you are looking for.’
Every so often we got a bite. Grandfather reeled in red fish the size of his forearm, sometimes throwing them back in, sometimes laying them flat in an old plastic cooler, half filled with crushed ice.
'For your mother,’ he said every time, his big grin showing the gaps in his teeth.
So our routine went, every day of the summer. When the sun took away the darkness, we headed back to the dock. Grandfather let me go straight to bed upon our return, and woke me at lunchtime to a glorious lunch of baked bread and fresh fish.
This all changed on the night we caught the squid.
Our hook spiked through one of the eight tentacles, a cold piece of metal piercing the white flesh. Two green eyes rolled back and forth, and the crisp mountain air filled with the tang of rotten garbage and orange peels.
A tentacle curled towards us, suckers the shape of broken hears. Grandfather shook the line, and with a splosh the squid crashed back into the water
Grandfather looked up to the skies.
'Hold on tight,’ he said. 'This only happens when the squid appear.’
I had so many questions, but I held on tight. Grandfather smiled.
The water bubbled and under the surface a shadow rose towards us. Then with an explosion of foam burst into the moonlight, spluttering and thrashing around. It’s skin was so pale, and the limbs no less aggressive or terrifying than the squid’s. I reverted back five years, and cowered away from the monster, forcing myself into the corner of the boat.
Despite his age, Grandfather grappled the creature in one wrinkled hand, and launched it into the boat. That soaking alabaster abomination crashed against our cooler, splashing melted ice and fish juice all over us. The wood groaned in displeasure with the weight of another body.
My breathing expanded into short rapid bursts, and I tried to make sense of the situation. Grandfather patted the beast, and picked up his oars.
'I am glad you to got to see this,’ Grandfather said. 'But that is enough for tonight. Time to go home.’
He began to row us back to the jetty, our new companion gasping from a red, blubbery mouth.
This was the first time we had ever gone back before the sun came up.