Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Old Person and the Sea

decided to gender-neutralized Hemingway's novella, The Old Man and the Sea.

Excerpt below: Full PDF story here: The Old Person and the Sea
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The Old Person and the Sea

By Ernest Hemingway
Gender Neutralized by Ryan MacDonald



They were an old person who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and they had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. In the first forty days a person had been with them. But after forty days without a fish the person's parents had told them that the old person was now definitely and finally salao, which is the worst form of unlucky, and the person had gone at their orders in another boat which caught three good fish the first week. It made the person sad to see the old person come in each day with their skiff empty and they always went down to help them carry either the coiled lines or the gaff and harpoon and the sail that was furled around the mast. The sail was patched with flour sacks and, furled, it looked like the flag of permanent defeat.
The old person was thin and gaunt with deep wrinkles in the back of their neck. The brown blotches of the benevolent skin cancer the sun brings from its reflection on the tropic sea were on their cheeks. The blotches ran well down the sides of their face and their hands had the deep-creased scars from handling heavy fish on the cords. But none of these scars were fresh. They were as old as erosions in a fishless desert.
Everything about them was old except their eyes and they were the same color as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated.
"Santiago," the person said to them as they climbed the bank from where the skiff was hauled up. "I could go with you again. We've made some money."
The old person had taught the person to fish and the person loved them.
"No," the old person said. "You're with a lucky boat. Stay with them."
"But remember how you went eighty-seven days without fish and then we caught big ones every day for three weeks."
"I remember," the old person said. "I know you did not leave me because you doubted."
"It was papa-momma made me leave. I am a person and I must obey them."
"I know," the old person said. "It is quite normal."
"They haven't much faith."
"No," the old person said. "But we have. Haven't we?"
"Yes," the person said. "Can I offer you a beer on the Terrace and then we'll take the stuff home."
"Why not?" the old person said. "Between fisherpeople."
They sat on the Terrace and many of the fisherpeople made fun of the old person and they were not angry. Others, of the older fisherpeople, looked at them and were sad. But they did not show it and they spoke politely about the current and the depths they had drifted their lines at and the steady good weather and of what they had seen. The successful fisherpeople of that day were already in and had butchered their marlin out and carried them laid full length across two planks, with two people staggering at the end of each plank, to the fish house where they waited for the ice truck to carry them to the market in Havana. Those who had caught sharks had taken them to the shark factory on the other side of the cove where they were hoisted on a block and tackle, their livers removed, their fins cut off and their hides skinned out and their flesh cut into strips for salting.
When the wind was in the east a smell came across the harbour from the shark factory; but today there was only the faint edge of the odour because the wind had backed into the north and then dropped off and it was pleasant and sunny on the Terrace.
"Santiago," the person said.
"Yes," the old person said. They were holding their glass and thinking of many years ago.
"Can I go out to get sardines for you for tomorrow?"
"No. Go and play baseball. I can still row and Rogelio will throw the net."
"I would like to go. If I cannot fish with you, I would like to serve in some way."
"You bought me a beer," the old person said. "You are already a person."

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