Fish Tales I am a fish.

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1 Fish Tales I am a fish. Of course, y ou can t tell this just by looking at me, but most people can t tell what you are just by looking at you. People are funny like that. If you just looked at me, you wouldn t be able to tell that I love the water. That the first time Mummy and Daddy took me to the pool, Daddy didn t put my rubber floaties on right, and I nearly drowned. Well, that s what Mummy says when they re angry at each other. You almost let your daughter drown, she tells him and her brows wr inkle and pucker . I told Mummy it wasn t anyone s fault, not even his, but she just did that thing where her lips get really thin and she s breathes loud and slowly through her nose. One thing I don t tell Mummy is that she s wrong. I didn t almost drown. At first I was scared. I had fallen into a shadow and couldn t find my way out again. I wanted to close my eyes because the water made them sting but it was so dark I thought I would get lost . I tried to open my mouth and yell but it filled up with wat er that burned my throat and made me choke and I just wanted it to stop. Until, just as quickly as I had slipped under, everything was ok and it wasn t scary anymore. Because I realized that I was a fish, and I was supposed to be in the water. And the shadows disappeared and from them everything become bright with all these colors - not like on the land where it s green and brown and red. No, there was every color you can think of, even the ones you don t know the names of yet, but you hope that one day you will because they are just so beautiful and you need to form them around your mouth and taste them. They danced around me and told me not to be scared, and I wasn t, because they knew my name and we were long lost friends from a distant land who had been waiting for each other. Its ok Suzie, they told me, we ve got you . They told me to look at them. Stay with us Suzie, they told me, and I wanted to. Because I had finally found what I was supposed to be. A fish in the water dancing with all the colors . But then I had to go. I wasn t in the water anymore and there were people everywhere and Mummy was upset. I had to beg Mumm y to take me back to the pool. Not that pool though Suzie, she said when she finally agreed. So we went to the other pool eve n though it was all the way on the other side of town and the bends in the road made my tummy turn. And when we got there, Mummy stayed in the water with me the whole time so I couldn t become a fish again. Just like sometimes you have to go into the shadows to find the light again, I think you have to be by yourself to become who you are truly meant to be. See, t he colors know that Mummy wouldn t want me to be a fish. She d miss me too much. She would try to pull me back up like the last time. I told her t hat if she let me go I would swim up the pipes that lead to the sink and say hello to her while she peels the potatoes, but she said she wouldn t like that. She s funny sometimes. When Suzie was four, Michael let her drown. The paramedics told me she was dead. That for a split second, she was gone forever. In that second I saw her whole life

Transcript of Fish Tales I am a fish.

Page 1: Fish Tales I am a fish.

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Fish Tales

I am a fish.

Of course, y ou can t tell this just by looking at me, but most people can t tell what you are just by looking at you. People are funny like that.

If you just looked at me, you wouldn t be able to tell that I love the water. That the first time Mummy and Daddy took me to the pool, Daddy didn t put my rubber floaties on right, and I nearly drowned. Well, that s what Mummy says when they re angry at each other. You almost let your daughter drown, she tells him and her brows wr inkle and pucker . I told Mummy it wasn t anyone s fault, not even his, but she just did that thing where her lips get really thin and she s breathes loud and slowly through her nose.

One thing I don t tell Mummy is that she s wrong. I didn t almost drown.

At first I was scared. I had fallen into a shadow and couldn t find my way out again. I wanted to close my eyes because the water made them sting but it was so dark I thought I would get lost . I tried to open my mouth and yell but it filled up with wat er that burned my throat and made me choke and I just wanted it to stop.

Until, just as quickly as I had slipped under, everything was ok and it wasn t scary anymore. Because I realized that I was a fish, and I was supposed to be in the water. And the shadows disappeared and from them everything become bright with all these colors - not like on the land where it s green and brown and red. No, there was every color you can think of, even the ones you don t know the names of yet, but you hope that one day you will because they are just so beautiful and you need to form them around your mouth and taste them. They danced around me and told me not to be scared, and I wasn t, because they knew my name and we were long lost friends from a distant land who had been waiting for each other. Its ok Suzie, they told me, we ve got you . They told me to look at them. Stay with us Suzie, they told me, and I wanted to. Because I had finally found what I was supposed to be. A fish in the water dancing with all the colors . But then I had to go. I wasn t in the water anymore and there were people everywhere and Mummy was upset.

I had to beg Mumm y to take me back to the pool. Not that pool though Suzie, she said when she finally agreed. So we went to the other pool eve n though it was all the way on the other side of town and the bends in the road made my tummy turn. And when we got there, Mummy stayed in the water with me the whole time so I couldn t become a fish again. Just like sometimes you have to go into the shadows to find the light again, I think you have to be by yourself to become who you are truly meant to be. See, t he colors know that Mummy wouldn t want me to be a fish. She d miss me too much. She would try to pull me back up like the last time. I told her t hat if she let me go I would swim up the pipes that lead to the sink and say hello to her while she peels the potatoes, but she said she wouldn t like that. She s funny sometimes.

When Suzie was four, Michael let her drown. The paramedics told me she was dead. That for a split second, she was gone forever. In that second I saw her whole life

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spread before me, a mass of color before everything went grey. The things she would get to do. The things she would not get to do. Apparently, your own life is meant to flash before you when you think you re about to die. I guess it makes sense that I saw Suzie s. I think a part of Michael and I died that day at the pool. I used to look at him and be blinded. The world was bleeding gold and I was caught in the shower. The paramedics brought Suzie back to life. They saved her. But not that piece of us. It disappeared, leaving a gap between us that opened further each day. Sometimes when he looks at Suzie, like he can t quite work her out, I look at him and he is unreco gnizable. In my mind we re two opposing characters, birds in a tree tweeting to one another from separate branches. We tweet because no - one really wants to hear what we have to say, not even us. You never touch me anymore, I say. You don t want me to touch you anymore, he says. And we go back and forth like this , day after day, because we don t know any better. We tweet and we tweet and we tweet, and I wonder what Suzie makes of our song. I want another baby, I say. I have to go out of town, he s ays. And he watches Daphne Barret walk past out house with her golden retriever named Brian, and I realize what I have to do to keep him.

Thomas Kent is a bully. A bully is someone who isn t nice to anyone for no real reason. Daddy says you have to ignore bullies , so that s what I do, even if they sit behind you and put glue in your hair and it hurts when you cut it out. When Thomas Kent comes up to me i n the playground and asks what I m doing, I tell him I m building an underwater castle. I tel l him it s what my home will look like when I become a fish again.

But Thomas Kent can t see this underwater world, because his Mummy put her head in the oven when he was five, and I think when your Mummy does something like that you stop being able to see certain things like underwater kingdoms and lands that are bathed in milk and frosting where no- one points their finger at you . Instead you just see the dirt and the twigs and the leaves. You get stuck in the shadows. And because Thomas Kent is a bully he steps on my castle and I scream and he yells at me to stop screaming so I scrunch my eyes up tight and pretend I m back to being a fish again, and this time there is another there. He says, Hello Suzie, I ve been waiting to meet you, and he s just like me and we swim and laugh and have so much fun that I don t want to leave.

It affects everyone differently. Even close friends seem alien at times. The awkward pauses, the not knowing what to say when Suz ie forgets to go to the toilet, even though she s been out of nappies for years. I can handle their discomfort though, because it s not their fault. It s their self- severing pity that pushes me over the edge. It must be so hard on you, one simpers over the top of her skinny latte while eying my stomach, and I want to throw my long black in her face and watch the skin go red and raw. It s not fucking hard. It s being a parent. It s being a mother, a wife. It s doing what needs to be done to save what you have. We re tweeting again.

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He says, How is this possible?I say, It s a sign.

Daddy takes me shopping for doll clothes in all different colors . I tell Daddy that my dolls won t wear the tiny blue overall he picks out, but he just looks at me like he is confused and buys them anyway.

I think he must be losing his memory, like Mrs Thompson in the yellow house across the road from us. I always try to run as fast as I can when I go past it, but sometimes she still manages to catch me. I have to stop and nod while she calls me Suzanna and asks me how my brother is coming along. But I don t have a brother , and my name s not Suzanna. People are funny sometimes.

It s a test. A new creation that s the glue holding the frail strands of us together for a little while longer. That s all I need, a little while to prove that it s worth it. It has to be, because we have nothing else. Suzie spends h er days outside, running around the backyard, screaming and chattering and laughing, and I have to laugh to o . Because if I don t laugh the doubt will trickle in and I d fall apart. B ecause I don t think I can do this a second time. Im a horrible person, you see. Secretly, I wouldn t want this for anyone, especially not myself. Sometimes I m glad I didn t have a choice, a chance to say, No, sorry I don t think I want that one, let s try again. Sometimes the shame and the guilt over the thoughts I think and the emotions I feel eat away at me until there is nothing left and I have to hold onto something to keep fr om falling over and my breathing becomes ragged and I think, This must be what it s like to die. Then Michael finds me and tells me it s going to be ok and holds me until the darkness fades and I believe that too. But he never seems to be around these days. He says, I think I m losing you, and I walk away. I say, Will you catch me? and he walks away.

When Mummy and Daddy go out for the day, they take me to stay with Nonni and her two fat puppies, J asper and Jasmine. The puppies run around like crazy when I get there, jumping up and yapping and I wonder what Nonni does to make them want to escape so badly. Because that s what it seems they re saying to m e. Thank goodness you re here Suzie, please, help us! But because they re fat puppies they get tired and have to go lie down on their mat. The puppies are too lazy and silly to escape on their own. Sometimes they just lie there looking at Nonni with their big sad eyes, as if they are begging her to say , It s ok fat puppies, you can leave if you really want to . B ut Nonni would never say that because she loves them too much and would be so sad if they left. I tell them both I m not helping them escape out into the big wide world, even if it does sound like a more exciting adventure than staying in Nonni s living room. I tell them they ll have to do that on their own. I don t want Nonni to be sad.

Before I leave, Nonni kisses me on each cheek and her face feel s furry. She tells me she doesn t get to see her Suzie- Q enough which mak es Mummy annoyed and she says, Don t sta rt Mamma, and Nonni answers with, Don t start on what Maria, which specific thing should I not start on? and they look at each other for a long time, not saying anything , so I take the fat puppies and we go outside.

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I love the vastness of the night s sky. The openness of it just screams possibility. I think that s what Suzie s mind is like. This great space dotted with bright lights, expect some of the lights don t burn as bright as the others and she misses them. Sometimes, they come back on, brighter and stronger than before, and sometimes, they just burn out, leaving a space that will never be filled. I think its thes e gaps that help her to see the things not everyone else can . I saw the world as my own bright light. I thought I could choose my own star and it would lead me to happiness. As I lie squished behind Suzie in her single bed, because my own has become too big and empty, I listen to her breathe and realize I don t know a damn thing. Defensive bounces between us and our branch starts to break. He throws across, You re being paranoid.And I throw back, I was never blind.

Mummy takes me to the Aquarian so I can talk to the fishes. The ones with the giant eyes that just stare are my favorite. That s why it s good to be a fish. When you are a person you can t just star e at people. They don t like it, and some get angry at you . Mummy doesn t mind though. She lets me stare at her tummy. She tells me I can talk to it if I want, but I don t. I don t tell her that I ve already met him and he s a fish just like me and we swim together. I think that might make her sad, because she hasn t met him yet. And I know that if she doesn t want me to be a fish, she wouldn t want him to be a fish either. I tell him this but he s not worried. He says Mummy doesn t need him anyway, she just doesn t know it yet.

It s almost time. We re reaching a climax and I don t think I m ready for the outcome. He s on the edge, knees bent and he wants to fly. He says, You know I love her.I say, You can t have us both.

Daddy wakes me up in the middle of the night. He puts on my dressing gown and slippers, then tries to put my beanie on but it doesn t fit properly . He s upset and keeps trying to pull it over my head and it hurts so I cry and he stops because he realizes it s a glove, not a beanie, and he says he s sorry.

We drive in the car with Mummy to the same hospital I went when I cut my leg climbing over Mrs Brenda s fence. There are flashing lights and noise and crying and I get scared and don t know what to do, so I close my eyes and become a fish in the water and he s there too. We dance with all the colors and he smiles at me, the brightest color anyone has ever seen, and then he winks at me and says, Goodbye Suzie.

It all happens so fast, one minuets he s there, the next he s not. And if I m reasonable I could look back and pinpoint the exact moment where I lost him. But I m not reasonable, which is how I came to be where I am.

When we get back from the hospital, the house seems bigger. The walls are quiet , so I m careful not to make any noise to dist urb them . The knots in my tummy come back and I wish and wish, over and over to become the fish I know I m supposed to be, but I can t. E verything stays grey, but it s not so scary anymore, so I get up and go into the kitchen.

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I wonder how long habits take to break. How long I will sit at this table and automatically rest my hands on my stomach. How long I will look to the front door at five o clock. Suzie comes in to the kitchen and watches me with that serious face. She asks me why I look sad. Mummy feels empty, I tell her. Then I put my head down and start to cry.

One day I ask Mummy , had all four of us come home from the hospital that night, would Daddy have stayed? Mummy tells me, no, she doesn t think so. She tells me even if we had come home with a little brother for me, Daddy would have still gone to live with Daphne Barrett and her golden retriever named Brian, and it s no one s fault. Not even his.