A impromptu short story completed for my creative writing class, where I partnered with avid writer Becca Lynn. Our prompt was on a relationship, with the incorporation of a goldfish somewhere in the story.
John and I never seemed like a couple that would break up over something so trivial. One day, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I had to leave him. I had to get out. He came home from work one day, and I don’t know…I lost it.
“I hate its bulging eyes and its white flecked scales and the round bowl that you have it in. It’s so oddly placed on that dresser, look at it…next to your dying plant that you refuse to water,” I paused, taking in the deer-in-the-headlights look on his face.
I continued my rant, watching him set down his briefcase and take a step back. Was he afraid of me?
“You never forget to feed the fish though. It swims around, in its pathetic prison—waiting for you to feed it!”
My voice echoed in our apartment. Thank goodness the window was closed. I’m sure the neighbors would be scared to hear such a fight from what they thought was a forever-in-love couple. They didn’t know about the fish.
“Jodi, no,” John mumbled. “Why are you saying these things? Where did all of this come from? You know how much this fish means to me!”
I heard what he said but I didn’t care. I kept thinking about the fish, glancing over to the bowl with a sick feeling in my stomach. It’s not the fish, although, it was a little. The fish is just simple and boring. I don’t see a point in something that swims around, never changing its path, always remaining a sad, little orange creature that lives in a comfortable home on top of a comfortable dresser.
But he loved that fish. I could tell he was about to cry, or tell me why the fish meant something to him. He took a step closer to me, his eyes glazing over and his eyebrows quivering up and down in confusion.
“Jodi, I just don’t understand. We have been through so much together and now you’re getting worked up over a fish?”
He kept looking at me in those wide eyes, searching for any ounce of sympathy that I wasn’t willing to give him.
“I love you, Jodi, don’t you get it? You make me so happy. I would change for you, I really would. I just love my fish so much. I would do anything for you, as long as I can keep my fish. You know you love coming home from work and seeing her swimming around in her little bowl chasing bubbles around in the water.”
He was running out of breath but didn’t give up.
“Well,” he swallowed. “Now you’re the bubbles and I’m the fish and I’m chasing you. Eventually she gets bored of chasing her bubbles but I could never get bored of chasing you. I promise. All I ask is that we keep her! I wish you could see how much this would mean to me. I want to swim through life together, with you, forever, Jodi.”
I looked down at the floor and took a deep breath. I knew this wasn’t going to be easy.
“John, I can’t remain in a place created upon routine, each day the same thing,” I saw his mouth quiver.
“Jodi! It’s a fish! Just a fish! One of the most simple, easy-going creatures on the planet! You don’t even have to take care of her—”
“You bet I don’t take care of that thing!” I interrupted, shouting a little louder than I intended.
“Then why does it matter to you?” he demanded. “This fish completes me. I love her. But I love you more! Believe me when I say this, Jodi, I love you, and you mean the world to me. I just need both of you in my life.”
He stood waiting for me to say something, probably hoping I wouldn’t go on about the fish. I had to continue.
“Each swim around the tank is just another day for that fish. You can’t even give the fish different color rocks at the bottom of her tank, remember? I suggested those purple rocks, at least give her a chance to have a change in scenery.”
I sat on the bed, looking away from the fish and John’s face as he desperately searched for air. Like a fish, I thought.
“You know what, I feel sorry for that fish. He’ll never get that from you: change. Life will stay the same, just like our relationship.”
I stood up and walked toward the window, my back is again to the fish, and to John.
I stared out the window and wished to say something else but I was lost. I was swimming in my own pool of frustration. I tried to understand what he was saying, but I only hated him more. I walked to the door and saw him hold out his hand.
“I never wanted the life of a goldfish,” I whisper, and I was gone.