Life as a Fish
By Michael Treder

Quincy the Fish had been swimming in circles all day when the thought, like lightening, struck him, which in itself was a unique enough experience considering that nothing ever profound or significant had ever happened to him before that startling moment. In fact, he thought that his very existence had been wasted and that his whole life was spent swimming alone for no reason in a foggy, glass tank.

“I really must find a new racket.” He said miserably to himself, and in that instant turned on his fin.

By birth and by creed, Quincy was a Zebra Tilapia, a beautiful striped variety with gaping mouth and delicate, wispy fins, though it really needed not to be said or clarified for ever since the old Red Empress had passed on some months earlier, Quincy had been the only fish in the proverbial sea.

Life as a fish was simple with little worry and zero stress, and Quincy liked this, but he, in his naivete, also wanted excitement and often craved adventure though he had never had one and hardly understood the meaning of the word.

He thought back to a feisty Bumblebee Goby he had once heard stories of, and how he had propelled himself out of the water and landed outside the tank, Quincy wondered what that thrill would have felt like, what sights he would have seen, what emotions he would have felt. He was envious of that little fish, struggling for breath out of the water, but yet shuddered thinking about how terrible suffocation on the outside must be, though he took comfort knowing it usually didn’t last long, Maggie the Cat and her velvet paws of death usually saw to that.

“What a miserable life a fish really has,” He thought, “with all this water around. A drowned world, in human terms, and a world of imprisonment to us.” Referring to the translucent glass walls. “We have no dreams, no goals, no immediate plans to grow up to be Jazz musicians or tennis greats, and our lives barely ever flash before our eyes. Not only are we born here, but we die here as well.” He laughed to himself sheepishly, “There is no dust to dust for a fish.”

And he turned away, away from the view of the world outside, away from fleeting thoughts of freedom, away from the silly fish out of water stories he enjoyed so much as a fry.

“Life as a fish is simple,” he thought, “and quiet. Too quiet, though nothing that red herring every now and then wouldn’t fix.”

Quincy gazed down at the grey rocks below, at the scrambles of algae growing in the corners of the tank, at the flakes of dehydrated food floating around on the surface of the water far above him; to the world around him, his watery, watery world. 

And he thought and turned on his fin, “I really must find a new racket.”

Michael Treder is a screenwriter and playwright whose short stories have appeared in the Cynic Online Magazine, Quantum Muse, Flashes in the Dark, Pulp Metal Magazine, and many more. He currently lives in Montreal where he attempts to write full-time. His short-story 'The Last Bloodhound' appeared in the February 2010 issue of Quantum Muse. Contact Michael.