On the Rocks

By Heather Hughes, @@

God, I hate her.

Uh, that’s no fair; hate’s a strong word. I mean, she loves me, she feeds me, it’s just, I feel...trapped sometimes.

I wish I could get out of here! Every day, every single day it’s the same. The same food, the same views, the same face staring back at me. She’s not bad, she just doesn’t understand me…understand that I need my freedom.

She thinks I’ve forgotten how things used to be…well she underestimates me. I’ll show her! Who am I kiddin’? I don’t have the guts.

Oh! Here she comes! I’d better busy myself so she doesn’t talk to me.

She cheerfully gives him breakfast.

She’s no chef, put it that way! Fuel for survival sure, but not to live for. Survive... that’s all I’m doing now. Maybe I should go on a hunger strike?…no.

I’ve always been a coward.

Everyday I think of leaving her, but what would I do? Where would I go? I wish...ahhhhh! Just once in your pathetic existence would you do something, anything! Be wild, be radical! She’d never believe it. Not in a million years. She’d wake up and I’d be gone. Ha! Almost wish I could see the look on her face. Not so cheerful now, are ye?!

I’m gonna do it. Tonight’s the night. I can’t do another carbon copy day of this boring, vomit enduring nothingness. I need a plan. Even anarchists had plans. I’ll wait until she goes to bed and then it’s GO time.

That night was like any other. Heather poured a glass of water, her half-on slippers padded noisily against the lino. He wouldn’t miss that noise. And suddenly, all was dark. It was now or never.

Don’t wuss-out now, you wimp! You have to do it. Of course you don’t know what’s out there, but it has to be better than this! Now...do it now.

All his muscles tense like coiled springs, building burning energy in each like little revving engines, ready to explode.


He had done it! He was airborne. And by god, did it feel good. The air tingled on his body – this must be what freedom feels like, he thought. He wasn’t afraid anymore. He closed his eyes and drank in the sensation. His body began to feel heavy, a gravitational tug from below him that he’d never felt before. He was going down, falling, hurtling downwards into nothingness.

He felt free.

A wave of calm washed over him. Although in darkness, a light came across his vision like a blanket of brilliant white. He had done it! He was free. And it had all been worth it.

The following morning, Heather shuffled into the kitchen as she always did. But he wasn’t there. She scanned furiously, eyes darting all over, hoping it was just the distortion of the glass bowl that meant he seemed momentarily missing. But it wasn’t. He wasn’t under the bridge, or behind the treasure chest. He was gone.

He had left her. But how? He was a fish! It was impossible! Had someone stolen him? No. There wasn’t a madman goldfish stealer, not in Edinburgh, anyway. Then she saw him. Down the side of the couch cushions. Dry and cold.

Why had he done it? She loved him. However insignificant he’d seemed to others, she had always cared deeply for the little fish. And he’d committed suicide. How could she have missed this? Although she wasn’t entirely sure of the tell tale signs of suicidal aquatic animals. She thought about his motivations.

He must have wanted to be free. To swim in vast waters, deeper than his glass bowl. She has always thought it seemed roomy for him. Apparently not. However abandoned Heather felt, she thought how brave her little fish must have been. To imagine something outside his glass bowl life. And he didn’t just imagine it – he leapt to it. He grasped his dream with both fins. It hadn’t worked out, but she admired his vision nonetheless.

Heather peeled Jebodiah off the couch, placed him in a matchbox and put him in the freezer. His funeral would be Saturday so he’d keep in there ‘til then.

Flush him? Never. This brave fish deserved a far greater send off than the swirl down the crapper. This would be the fish funeral to end all fish funerals.

On Saturday, Heather drove with Jebodiah’s matchbox coffin on her lap. He was thawing, but he didn’t smell fishy or anything. When they arrived at the seashore, her boyfriend pulled out the paper Viking long boat he had made for Jebodiah’s final voyage. She opened the matchbox and placed Jeb in the boat. She took the lighter and began to set the vessel alight.

It was difficult. The boat would take the flame and then be quickly thwarted by the wind. She continued. Quickly rasping at the lighter. She rolled up her trousers and paddled out further. She tried to light the boat again. Success! We had a flaming long boat with a brave goldfish corpse aboard! Excellent.

She placed the boat in the water and pushed it off to sea, only for a wave to hurl it back to shore, arriving on dry land before she clumsily galloped through the water. Damn. We now had a soggy long boat with a brave goldfish corpse not aboard. Not so good.

Perhaps a flaming Viking long boat funeral was a tad ambitious, she thought. Anything would be better than a flush. She picked up sandy Jebodiah, placed him in the boat and held it by the stern. She then used the boat to launch him to sea. He flew through the air like a fishy missile. The brightness meant she lost sight of him until – plop! That’s it. He’s at sea now.

‘It’s what he would’ve wanted’ said her boyfriend, trying not to laugh.

She smiled, the surrealness of the moment not lost on her.

‘Yup. He was a good fish.’

pet rebellion, fish suicide, defying routine