Why does everything boil down to goldfish?
In their short life the goldfish experienced everything that a single, intense, life in a moment might offer. Love: that boy on the outside of them through the swish swosh of the water, his face familiar over and over. Imagine love at first sight, again and again and again. It was like that.
They cast no remark over this clear, bright, remarkable life. A stage set where they looked out. The woman arranging flowers in a vase; she placed them close, that waving palette, that sharp fantastic. The woman’s face: Smudgy, everything rubbed out at the edges in the lamplight. They flicked their tails like mermaids, splashed like children aged under seven with their raw happiness.
Sometimes the boy and his mother were beside each other in the evenings, the man not as often. Oh seeing the boy and his mother it was a great, light, swishy tail feeling. With the man it was different but still fabulous, they dreamed in one fast shut eye moment of being electric eels. He moved them one step on with his imagination. He would creep in late, when the others had gone to bed, he would turn on one small light and wake them up from their limbic slumber. They felt no love but mirrored his fascination, that big, godly eye pressed close to their bowl, they could see the iris, his green blue eyes reflecting everything that mattered, they swam around his cornea, they flicked in the reaches, the great universe of his gaze.
When he came to see them they felt as if lightning danced on the water. Sometimes he would drop in extra flakes, the golden ones. He whispered to them, fishy wishes not the dark rumbling voice he spoke in when the boy and the woman were there. They felt as if they’d found Atlantis.
One evening he brought them a gift. It was a rock to put into their bowl, something to make their lives completely different.
In the many sided crystal faces of the rock they saw their own faces, reflected and refracted back and in that single moment they understood all that they had been, all the single forgotten moments rejoined, all that love for the boy, all that comfort of the mother, the fascination of the man. They got a sense of themselves and forever.
Then everything was fizzing. He had turned out the light and gone. The crystal began to dissolve. Stars spun across the still water. The goldfish tasted salt and for a split second were eels in the ocean, all swish and electric. Then all the single forgotten moments rejoined. They remembered everything and then again, in the next moment there was nothing left at all.