Ink Art

She mastered the throwing of the ink at an early age. Her pouch was supple and contained plenty. She dreamed that she had access to differently colored inks. Not that she wasn’t content doing black and white. It afforded her the pleasure of contrast, of crispness and vagueness, shadow and light. She had taken to sending splashes in quick succession. The trick was to use the tentacles to shape the ink. It tended to dilute before she had time to fully express her thought. Her art was evanescent.

She was dedicated to her craft. It was less a matter of physical survival than of emotional fulfillment. Other squids left her alone, thought her weird. One or two kept an eye on her, either for fear or curiosity, she couldn’t tell. They alternated bringing her attention to food. She always felt ravenous after an inking session. She also must eat to replenish her ink supply.

She enjoyed long sessions of reflection – lying in wait for her next meal, she watched her envelope transform to blend with its surroundings. It went against the grain. She wanted to stand out! Throw ink in people’s faces! Instead of only replicating her own shape to distract would-be predators and flee, she sought to reproduce the predators’ own shape, as in a mirror. She spent long hours perfecting her gaze, to catch a likeness instantly. She mesmerized her aggressors – they loved seeing themselves more than eating. Her work garnered reputation; predators unknown to these parts came from far and wide to get a glimpse of themselves. They sometimes regurgitated fish for her in a gesture of gratitude. Soon she had hangers-on, eager to benefit from the overflow. She sometimes ate them distractedly. Anything for her art.

She generously taught. The parents were incensed but some kids were really talented and developed their own style. Two boys, born of the same mass of eggs, lived as one. They took to floating across from each other. One would project the ink while the other molded it. The first had to guess at the creation. Other times, they played riddles. The first one sent out a splash of ink and the second one would try and guess what it was. In the early days, it was more Rorschach than skill, but they honed their skills over time.

The boys started collaborating on projects, each inking to complete the others’ thought. Their intelligence fused, their sculptures fascinated their peers. They were skinny. They were so immersed in their work that they would go without eating or sleeping, consumed in thought. That made them less appetizing and afforded them some protection. Feelings about them ranged from dismay to admiration. A lot of their peers just tried to ignore them, hoping their influence would decrease as the novelty wore off. It didn’t. Soon sharks came circling – the boys had gone beyond mere reproduction and flattery. They bravely expressed their vision of the world, living for the thrill of sharing it.

Squid

Hidden on the coral reef, merging seamlessly with my surroundings, I spy with my little eye a pesky lazy fish. He’s been tormenting his rival long enough. I extend my longest tentacles and drop him in my mouth. He squirms and protests as I swallow. Good riddance! I am a knight in camouflage…

Back to my trusty reef, where I again assume my watch position. I shiver – a small shark is back in the neighborhood. Conversations cease. Remoras latch on for a ride and a bite. The rest of us hide in crevices. I hide in plain sight. Sharks have poor vision but they are sensitive to every vibration. I think zen thoughts and stay motionless. The remoras have spotted me. One squints and whispers something to the other. I hope they weren’t friends with my earlier snack. I bet they were. The first one goes to the shark and points at the reef. The shark hesitates. He doesn’t know if he can trust them, doesn’t want to look like a fool crashing into the reef and possibly hurting himself. He shrugs and heads out. I start breathing again and subdued conversations resume.

Nobody hazards to swim in my area. I grow bored. I don’t enjoy the camouflage strategy – secure but dull. I decide to swim out, cautiously. I can see the sun shining brightly. It’s a beautiful sunny day – I may have more luck skimming the surface. I start up but see a large shadow. A ripple of fear follows the scream “Cormoran”. I throw my doppelganger in ink and swim back down. The bird goes for it, its beak clamping down on my shadow while I escape unscathed. That was too close for comfort. I would be sweating if I had sweat glands.

Oooh, nice, a few crabs. They crunch satisfyingly under my beak. I rip them to smaller pieces that I place delicately in my mouth. So focused was I on savouring this substantial dish that I react slowly to the attack. If the evil remora had not snickered, I would have been the shark’s meal. I flatten myself to the ground, cursing my luck. The remaining crabs scamper off.

A hungry shark is suggestible. When we both have eaten our full, we like to visit and shoot the breeze. But with the remoras in a mischievous mood, I better lie low. I decide to go haunt the wreck. I love to photobomb the divers or frighten them with an ink impression of themselves. That totally freaks them out. They’ve sunk that one intentionally. They even have a fake skeleton with an Elvis hairpiece. That’s just bad form. Polluting the neighborhood with tacky sculptures but, hey, the kids love it; it gives them a place to hang out.

School is out. They move as one. Their ballet is a feast for the eyes. I hardly ever break them up to eat any. It just feels wrong to destroy an art piece. I would rather go hungry.