February 25, 2010

CONTRIBUTED BY  YT SUMNER (Melbourne, Australia)

The only thing I don’t like about the Aquarium is the smell.

It stinks.

Not so bad as working in a butchers, which I did once for work experience. I lasted the whole week but I never ate red meat again.

People get pissed off when I eat fish and say, “You’re not a vegetarian if you eat fish.”

I can’t remember if I ever said I was a vegetarian, but I must have because people get pissed off about it a lot.

I asked Andy about the aquarium smell and he said I’d get used to it.

He also said it was weird that a Goldfish Girl eats fish.

I didn’t say that was stupid even though goldfish were omnivores and would even eat each other because I liked that he called me a Goldfish Girl.

There’s a woman marching up and down the row of tanks making sharp bends occasionally. I should go over and help her but the thought of saying hello makes me feel like there are pebbles in my mouth. Smooth little black ones like at the bottom of the tank.

“Excuse me?”

She sounds a bit annoyed and I realize that she’s repeating herself.

I go over and as she leans down to point at a tank full of Comets, I see her hair is all boofed up into a short nest at the top of her head. I try not to stare at the matted dread of hair but it’s hard because she pats it every time she says the word fishy.

“I want a smart one,” she says.  ”I want him to remember me.”

I clear my throat and the pebbles rattle.

“The thing about Goldfish is that they remember a lot more than people think.”

She stares at me and pats her dreadlock.

“But I thought fishies only had a 30 second memory.”

“Lots of people think that.”

She stares some more then presses a fuchsia nail against a tank holding a Lionhead Ranchu the size of her fist.

“How long do these ones live for?”

I remember last week when he swam into my palm while I was adjusting the filter hose. He felt so slimy and comforting.

“Their average life span is about five years.”

“That’s good,” she says, “because I can’t deal with death right now.”

She claws at the tank with her talon and the Lionhead startles over into the far corner.

“Please do not tap the tank.”

I don’t turn around because I know Andy is frowning. He hates it when people tap the tanks.

I don’t move until I feel him leave and then I finish selling the fish to the woman who cannot deal with death but is still going to take them home and kill them slowly.

I watch her leave with the bag of water and air and the Lionhead bobbing about inside and i think of my soggy tuna sandwich sitting in the staff room fridge.

I think about it until I feel sick.


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