A weathered old fisherman sat at the edge of the sea, faint with hunger.
He had not eaten well in over a decade, ever since his wife had died.
One day, he caught a magnificent, fat-bellied fish with gleaming golden scales.
He could not have been more pleased.
‘At last,’ he thought, ‘my troubles are over.’
He made to kill and cook the fish, and eagerly looked down at his intended meal.
The creature was vainly writhing about in his hands, desperate to live.
The fisherman hesitated.
‘It’s in a world full of fresh, clean air, and yet it can’t draw a single breath,’ he thought.
Troubled, he looked the fish directly in the eye. It stared back at him wildly.
A short moment later, with the fish still flailing in his hands, the fisherman stood up.
His old body groaned and creaked in protest, but he paid it no heed.
Solemnly, he used his remaining strength to throw the fish back into the sea.
The restless waves rose up to meet it, swallowing it up into its rippling, mottled mass.
Golden scales glimmered beneath the waters for a moment before diving out of sight.
The lonely old fisherman gazed out over the heaving waves.
His belly ached with a terrible, gnawing hunger, but he ignored its grumbling.
‘Its life means nothing to me,’ he thought, ‘but for the fish, that’s all it’s got.’
‘Better to have let it go,’ he told himself, ‘since it makes so little difference to me.’
‘I would have been hungry again after eating it, anyway.’