Another Day, Another Blog

April 24, 2007

Goldfish philosophy

Filed under: ficlet, the joy of life — iamza @ 7:00 am

Goldfish Sam was bored. Sure, he had water in which to swim, and occasionally giant nibbles dropped out of the sky, so he had food to eat. For the most part, though, Sam spent his life swimming around the same concrete pond, darting amongst and around the same rocks and black plastic pond plant holders as he always had, or chatting with Pete and Minnow, passing the hours with the same mundane observations about nothing at all.

Teasing the neighbourhood cats had been a neat diversion for a couple of weeks.

“Here, Kitty-kitty, catch me if you dare.”

The cats had fallen for it every time. They’d stalk over to sit on a sun-warmed rock by the edge of the pond, and peer over the water to see who was talking. And Sam would leap up out of the pond, expertly flicking his tail so that a spray of water droplets shot into wide unsuspecting eyes, and quickly plunge back into the shadowy depths before the cat had gotten much beyond a plaintive, “But, but, water! Ugh!”

Problem was, the trick worked once, twice at the most, on each cat. And the cats had obviously been talking amongst themselves, for the neighbourhood was now suspiciously feline-free.

Sam had tried the same trick on the blackbirds, but the birds just arched into the spray of water, and chirped with glee. As bored as he was, Sam wasn’t quite ready to call it a day and turn himself into a bird shower.

So, here he was, Sam of the yellow-gold scales, son of the house of three black dots, leaper of ponds, bored out of his tiny goldfish skull.

Old Jake swam by, lazily fluffing his orange fins. “Young Sam,” he said, and closed his mouth for a second or two.

Oh great, thought Sam, here we go.

Old Jake had a habit of speaking a word or two at a time, and then pondering for minutes on what he wanted to say next. Simple conversations could take hours.

Sam reluctantly fluttered a dorsal fin in greeting, and racked his brain for an excuse which would allow him to escape before Old Jake remembered what it was he’d wanted to say.

“The world,” said Old Jake.

Too late. Sam sighed, and resigned himself to a long, long afternoon.

“…is a big place.” Old Jake opened his mouth and sucked in some water, as though pondering his comment. A slow blink, and then his mouth closed.

Sam waited.

“Exciting,” continued Old Jake, and mouthed the water a few more times. “But not,” he paused, and blinked again. Silence descended.

Sam flicked his tail a little impatiently, the water offering a welcome resistance. “Yes?”

“…always safe.” Old Jake turned in the water, so that he could look more directly at Sam.

Sam gulped a mouthful of water to give himself time to think. Old Jake’s statement seemed all too obvious. “Uh, okay?”

Old Jake seemed to sigh. “Is it better,” he asked, “to die in a blaze of glory, or live a life of subdued contentment?”

The old goldfish did not seem to require an answer. He blinked once, slowly, at Sam, and then flicked his tail and his fins, swimming off majestically into the shadows. 

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