Lu and I didn’t coral clean last week. One day got in the way of another – and suddenly a week had passed. Today, while Bonnie was moving house and Lu studied for a chemistry test, I went and cleaned on my own. Two trees in 80 minutes.

It doesn’t feel like the world’s most tiring thing when you’re doing it. It’s all hanging and slow scrubbing work. Now, six hours later, I want to know there’s a stretcher handy. Which of course there isn’t.

At least it means less bingo wings for me. Still. I was a bit disappointed at the end of the dive. This is because I didn’t get to fight with Mildred. Mildred is one of the famous damselfish who hang around Harbour Village. Specifically by the dive ladder. You have to climb the ladder to pass her.

The other dramatic damselfish is Malfoy. He hangs out by the creepy underwater camera. I say creepy. I’ll probably be staring at it’s real-time gloom when I go home too, desperate for a scrap of underwater Bonaire. It’s still creepy though.

Back to Mildred. Everyone has the same experience. You get to the ladder and before you climb it, you have to take your fins off. Well, in theory. After my first few Mildred experiences, I learned to climb the ladder with my fins on.

This is because, when you start climbing the metal ladder – what is that sharp pinching on your legs and ankles? Is it a crab pinching you? You look down. It’s not a crab. It’s a damselfish. It’s fricking biting you! Bonnie calls the damselfish, Mildred.

I’ve just realised I don’t even have a photo of Mildred. I’ll have to sort that out. It’s just taking a pic at that moment isn’t exactly on a person’s list of priorities. Yelling at Mildred is. I am embarrassed to admit I have even started having full-on fights with her. A four-inch fish. It’s got to a point where I really enjoy them.

The first time was when I was taking off my fins and she started attacking the ends of them. Came straight out of a rock to do so. I began waving them at her, thinking it would scare her off. Haha. She attacked them even more. I couldn’t believe it. It felt like small-dog syndrome.

I went for it too then. I even caught her a couple of times. I paused while she shot behind the rock. What was I doing, I thought, fighting with this little fish? What if I hurt her? Then she came out double speed. She looked positively invigorated.

It was me who lost in the end of course, since I had to climb the ladder to get out. Duh. Every since then, it’s been ouch, ouch, ouch. She’s definitely spit out a few chunks of my wet suit now. I suspect she might even recognise me. When I approach, her bluish-head pokes straight out from under the ladder, her eyes happily furious.

Except she wasn’t here today. Mildred the damselfish, who like most of her kind, are amazingly territorial. Brave. And pure bitch. Hope she’s ok.

Here is a stock photo of her kind, the yellow-tail damselfish:

The blue spots on the head are leftover from their beautiful juvenile phase. Come back soon Mildred.

2 thoughts on “Mildred

  1. I love this story. What a different life you lead from mine and how much I appreciate your giving human characteristics to Mildred. I also love the name Malfoy. Thanks for this. On this cold March morning as I sit in front of three computer screens to get ready to teach, I can imagine a different world. A beautiful world with sea water and colorful fish.

    Liked by 1 person

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