Goodnight Mister Fish
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The tale of a young woman's unusual encounter in a park late at night.
The silvery moonlight shimmered in her crimson locks as she sat at the edge of the park’s pond, her slender knees pressed up tightly against her ample chest. Her back pressed against the large willow tree that forlornly drooped over her solitary form, and the pond. Cora’s hands idly played with the ring on her finger as her starry, emerald eyes had been stained red with tears. She just felt so tired of everything, that all she wanted to do was lie down and never get back up again. After all, everything she had ever desired had been taken away from her, or else gone completely wrong.
Cora’s teary orbs had caught sight of a silly trout swimming in imperfect figure eights in front of her. She was not even certain how she saw through the muck encrusted, brown waters. She only knew that the fish was there watching her as much as she was watching him. She was not sure how she knew the sex of the fish. Cora figured that it must have been her intuition talking again, not that her intuition had lead her anywhere or to anything in the end; except this park and her dark thoughts swirling around in her brain in the late twilit hour.
At first she had thought the scales of the fish were black; but the longer she gazed upon it the more clearly she saw that the large scales of this silly seeming trout were made of even smaller scales, and these were a variety of hues of red, yellow, green, blue, and many shades she did not even recognize or know the words to describe them; all of them merged together to create the effect of the fish being black scaled on the surface when in truth it was not. The more Cora concentrated on the trout the more her troubles seemed to melt away from her for a time.
Cora didn’t understand what was happening; however, she did know that this oddly colored trout seemed to be calming her mind the more she focused her thoughts on it. It was almost as though she could faintly hear the fish speaking into her mind or rather speaking to her. The voice was almost to faint to hear, but she knew that such thoughts were foolish, and for a brief moment brushed the idea out of her head. She had made her decision and come here, and no matter what she would stick to her solution even if some stupid fish was trying to tell her otherwise. She would just get up and walk into the pool of water and drown herself, and then all her problems would sink with her and vanish.
Then she had heard it beyond doubt, it was so faint and weak that she was not even aware that she had heard the words correctly, causing her voice to quiver slightly in fear at the thought that she might be losing her grip on her sanity; yet it couldn’t be real, could it, “Would you please speak a little louder? I can’t quite hear you.”
A wave of shock passed over Cora’s flushed face as she unexpectantly received an answer from the strange fish swimming in the park’s pond, “I said you’re the one being stupid.” The voice had been a little more pronounce but still to soft to hear easily.
“Huh?” Cora inquired, puzzled at hearing the impossible, a telepathic fish.
“I have lived for two thousand years, darling, and I can tell you that killing yourself only gets you into a whole different set of problems you’re not ready to deal with if you can’t handle this life. If this life is to much for you, how are you going to handle the next?” The strange fish continued to gaze deeply into her almond shaped eyes; only taking them off of her for a moment as he rushed after a bug resting on the pond’s surface. The trout sprang up into the air; having easily caught and gulped down the bug all in one motion with little problem. He landed with a soft splash that barely broke the water.
Cora darkly laughed at these words of advice on the afterlife coming from of all things, a fish. She had lost everything, her job, her fiancée of ten years, and she couldn’t even feed herself, let alone pay all her bills, and to make matters worse, at the end of the month she was being evicted! She was at her lowest ends and here she was in the park, after midnight, conversing with a trout about life. In her opinion she had clearly gone off the deep end, and then felt, what was one more thing to lose when she planned to take her life anyway.
The fish contradicted her thoughts as though he could read them as easily as he had just eaten the bug, “You are quite sane, darling.” that same faint voice informed her, “You see, I am a God. Perhaps if you left me an offering I could grant you more then words of solace. My powers are greatly diminished though, not that they were ever very strong to begin with. Few people, short of fishermen, ever pray to a fish god.”
She said in disbelief, “You’re God? A fish? How do I not know you’re not some kind of demon after my soul before I kill myself?”
He spoke as patiently as a wise elder speaks to a child, “I never claimed to be The God. I merely said I was a fish god, a remnant of an older time, before Man made a God more convenient for his needs.’ the fish seemed to sigh with a tired air about him as though talking to her was somehow straining him in a manner she didn’t comprehend. The strange fish continued to tell her, “If you only give me offerings of self pity and sorrow I may vanish before I can be of any true help to you, darling. Too long, it has been since I’ve even felt this alive with offerings. And if all this is insanity, as you deem it, then what harm is there for you to indulge in it; when you are so determined to die anyway?”
Cora only shrugged her shoulders as her hands still tightly gripped her well formed knees to her breasts. Her slender fingered hands fell to her sides as her legs lowered to lay against the chill grass, and her feet dipped into the icy water.
She had laughed, “Why not? If you are what you say, then make me feel happy again.”
The trout god sniffed disdainfully as he stopped swimming in figure eights, and lazily floated in the murk, “Tall order for a fading god….so what do you plan on giving in exchange? Nothing in the universe comes from nothing, after all.”
The red head squawked in pain as she had yanked out a few of her crimson locks, her face scrunched up in pain from the action. She tossed the strands into the wind, watching as a very faint and unnatural seeming breeze wafted the strands through the air to land on the dirty pond’s surface. They slowly sank into the depths as the fish god at violent speed rushed upward, and gulped down the strands as easily as he had the bug.
The fish grumbled dissatisfied with the offering; but his voice had grown a little stronger to her ears then it had at first sounded, “It’s a start, I suppose. Sorry darling, but I need a little more then that.”
Cora haughtily got to her feet, completely forgetting that she had come here to commit suicide, not make a bargain with some ancient god that she didn’t believe in. Small ripples had formed around her ankles as she had stood up, glaring hatefully at the stupid, over demanding fish.
Cora said agitated by everything, “What more do you want?! Blood?!”
The fish replied, “Blood would work fine; but only a pin prick’s worth, we mustn’t be thought greedy, and then we can call it even for your desire being granted.”
She turned her back on the pond and started to sullenly trudge away, her shoulder length red hair swaying slightly in time to her steps as she heatedly informed the fish, “Stupid! There are no such things as wish granting fishes! It’s all fairytale nonsense! And I’ve indulged my imagination enough for one night. Good night, Mister Fish.”
“WAIT!!” The desperate word halted her in mid stride; but she did not turn back towards the pond. She stood there, once more playing with the ring her fiancée had given her.
“Perhaps there is something you’d be more willing to part with then your blood? Some little trinket that you would not think worth much to you now? Some little trifle?” The fish argued persuasively.
She rubbed her fingers over the engagement ring one last time before she slipped it off, placing it into her palm. Cora looked down at it one last time before she swiftly turned around and tossed it into the shadowed waters. She shouted after she had thrown it, “Good riddance!”
A wide grin spread across the fish god’s face. Cora was not sure how she knew the fish grinned; only that it was grinning at her as the ring flew through the air and sank into the water to fall directly into his mouth; as if it had been drawn there by a magnet.
A cold feeling of emptiness swept over her as she shuddered. Cora shook her head and then collected herself as she silently stood there for a moment. Her mind blanked on what she was doing in the park in the middle of the night. She felt as though something heavy had been lifted from her. She did not remember her words with the fish god or that he was even at this very moment swimming away from her with her offering. Cora had suffered so much bad news this week that she had thought she would not be able to take it, and figured that she must have gone to the park to clear her mind and come up with a plan of action. But that explanation didn’t seem right to her either.
Cora continued to stand there for a few seconds longer puzzling over things. There was something missing in her memory, something trivial and yet something she felt she might have once found to be important. After racking her brain for a moment she brushed it off. She had her plan; she would look for work first thing in the morning. Cora supposed that she could stay with her father, even if they had not gotten on well over the past several years; namely from adolescence onward. She knew that she wouldn’t have to live with him long, only long enough to find steady work. Cora walked back to her red Volvo completely forgetting her bargain with the Fish God, and not even aware of what he had taken from her. She turned the key in the ignition and drove off from the park as the strange fish once more contently sank into the mud at the bottom of the pond’s center, smug with his offering.
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