I know you've been wondering how my fish are doing, so I thought I'd give you an update. I can't promise that by embarking on this tack I will deliver any stimulating insights into the deeper meaning of existence, but it's probably better that way. If there's any resource we overuse in the modern age, it is profundity. Or oil. Or natural gas. Or water. Or oops, there I go again.
Harrow is now unchallengable: indisputably the biggest fish in a very small tank. He doesn't swim so much as patrol the waters, his enormous eyes curiously incapable of detecting the slow descent of fish pellets from above. His enormous girth testifies to the fact that he does find them eventually though.
He has lost all his colour. Harrow, like his brother Murk, is a Black Moor. Black Moors are so named for their sable scales. I don't know if there were once racist overtones in that nomination; now it is merely a common name for the species. I like to think it gives them a Shakespearian grandeur. However, Harrow is only black from his muzzle to his tail now, all the rest of him has been restored to a hereditary white-gold. I do not think he is unwell, because he remains active and interested in the goings-on of the world beyond the tank, despite his poor eyesight. I understand it may be stress, but I cannot find the cause.
His brother Murk shares none of his anxieties, and remains a silky shade of noir. Recently Murk has become fixated by the gently fluttering leaves of the larger plant in the tank. He wafts at the back of the enclosure, halfway between where the water begins and where it meets gravel, gazing imperturbably at the leaves. I find this odd, but then when I think about it, I get envious. I think in his position I would do precisely the same.
Reed, the solitary Widow Tetra, he gets all the girls. Unfortunately for him they are all human. He's a Casanova desparately in search of a Nanetta or Giulietta, or if I understand him aright, any widow will do. Dwarfed by the Moors, he remains the first item commented upon by anyone who inspects the tank. When he was introduced to the tank, an unfortunate event caused him to shed one of his gills. Taking after his owner, he has used this to his advantage. The way to a man's heart is via his stomach, so it is said. The way to a woman's heart, Reed will tell you, is through the kindling of sympathy. Look, don't overdo it, that's a classic mistake, it is a starting point, nothing more.
Reed is the most human of my piscine menagerie. Only he understands what it means when a thumb and forefinger are pinched above the tank. (It means hunger sated.)
Laurel, Coral and Oral live in their own little world, which if I had ever watched the OC, I suspect would prove a useful comparison. Melodrama is their forte. When at midnight all the lights in my room turn off, I can hear desparate splashes from the surface of the waters, and I know that even in the dark hours the female Laurel is being chased to her likely doom by the rhyming males. Laurel, when she peeks out from the leaves into which Murk gazes, hiding from the relentless malevolent kiss-chasey, evokes a kind of melancholic goodwill. The boys O and C (this being unintentional) get nothing from me. Is it wrong to feel such anger towards one's pets?
The strangest thing about that tank, I think, is that most every night as the book flips shut and I'm just about to flick the lamp, I shuffle up on my elbows until Harrow and Reed greet me, and Murk just keeps staring at his plant, and I whisper "Thanks for being here. I need you guys."
I don't know why, and they don't understand anyway. But it gets me to sleep.
Joseph | 10 Feb 2005