The tropical sun was still down, but the Ruritanian marketplace was already bustling with people. Charlotte hurried through the crowd. She was out of fish. Charlotte had been in town for weeks and already knew the place like the back of her hand. She just needed to buy fish and make it to her destination acoss town. The locals were already out selling their stuff. "Looking for a good fish? I'll show you a good fish!" Charlotte was not interested. These were small fish operators, and she had something bigger in mind.
Ever since she had heard of a sighting of the elusive Clupea ruber in the nearby Ruritan river, her mind had been set to seeing this magnificient beast in the wild once in her life. The problem was that they never stay in one place for very long. Fish is money in a market town like this, but she had no interest in selling or even catching it. She just wanted to see it for herself. Finding it was her life for the moment – it was about fish.
Making it to the docks, Charlotte had already broken a sweat. The sun was coming up. She only had so many hours of sunlight, and had to make the most of it. She had her water bottles and food with her. She had some spare fish still. The day's plan was the same as always. Move slowly up the river, inspect fish after fish, and try not to let anything pass her by unchecked. She was sure she'd know the one she was looking for when she saw it. Any fish now could be it. She would not give up until she had that fish stamp in her travel journal.
Problem was, she may have shown up too late. Scanning the river, from fish to fish, might no longer bring her any closer to her metre-long, scarlet-sided target. They may seem lethargic at first glance, basking in the warm surface water, but this fish can actually fly like an arrow when moving from place to place. If she had missed it, there was little chance an opportunity like this would present itself again.
Upon sunset she returned to the docks empty-handed. She stepped off the boat, sat down, buried her head in her hands and sighed deeply. Maybe she had lost her chance. Maybe it had all been for nothing. All the planning, the getting up early, all the long days in the boat, worrying about lost fish... Everything... And suddenly, it started dawning on her. All of this. The boat trips. This adventure. This furious race against fish. She could see it so clearly now.
She had had the fish of her life all along.
What was the fish?