The Waterwood Box, 59

Catch up!

“Those urchins who dropped you off will be back someday, someday soon.”

“What do you plan to do?” Adam asked, his personal troubles forgotten for the moment.

Frear smiled and again Adam thought that, when smiling, the water-folk wasn’t so bad. “Trying to do anything as a group is impossible in Tiskaloo. Now, mind you, I’m not questioning the wisdom of the zigga. But sometimes it is hard to manage with everyone so intent on honoring themselves first. So, I plan to put my opinion in the water with everyone else’s and hope that we all come to swim the same current. Presently, however, I plan to find a place for you and the fish to stay.”

“My name is Spot.”

“Spot fish,” Frear returned. Frear opened the door where the commotion continued, then squeezed in, leaving Adam and Spot alone.

“Adam, are you OK?”

“Why didn’t you tell me, Spot? You knew.”

“I didn’t know you didn’t know! How do I know what humans teach each other?”

Though angry, Adam recognized that Spot was right. How would the fish know?

“There’s got to be land, Spot. Frear hasn’t swam through all of Ocean.”

“Yes, that seems true. But, Adam, I’ve never heard of any actual land either, only in stories.”

“Well, somebody’s got to know something.”

“That somebody isn’t here,” chimed a voice from above Adam and Spot. Ramata sat on a rooftop, looking down on them. “You won’t get two shells of knowledge from a Tiskaloon.”

“What do you mean?”

“Knowledge is subjective here. That means that when the world presents a fact — this coral is hard — ,” the water-folk rapped knuckles on the roof top, “ — then each and every explanation that interprets that fact is OK by Tiskaloo. Then comes debate and talk and discussion and committee then, finally, after enough people have their say, we reach an agreement.”

“Well, that’s not too bad a place to be. Probably pleases a lot of people.”

Ramata floated off the roof-top and sunk to Adam’s level. “It is a bad place to be when you’re trying to decide how you should defend your people and need to act fast.”

“We have the same problem where I come from. We debate and vote and it all works out in the end.”

“And where did that get you?” Ramata wanted to know. “Look, you can’t ask, ‘Is there any land?’ of a Tiskaloon because no one ever bothers to check whether there is any land or not. They just talk about it and since enough have agreed that land doesn’t exist – land doesn’t exist!”

“I knew it!” Adam cried. “There could be land.”

“There could be. Could not be, too. That’s not the point.”

“What is the point?” piped Spot, who grew tired of these word games when he wasn’t with his school.

“The point is that any Tiskaloon will give you their opinion and expect you to consider that as some truth about Ocean beyond Tiskaloo even though most have never even been that far outside of Tiskaloo. But, you aren’t supposed to ask them how they know what they know. It isn’t considered proper to question their opinion. The point, Spot, is this: we don’t know for certain.”

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The Waterwood Box, 59

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