Saturday, November 08, 2008


Okay, so I'll agree that a train, a bowl of goldfish, and a man in black are elements that produces sniggers. But to those who scoff...I am going to write one short short each day (ending Thursday)based on the above three ideas.

“Those are the kind of boxes they use in restaurants,” Gerald protested.

“The fish won't know.”

“I want them in a bowl.”

“Kid, the water will slosh all over the place.”

“They should see the world.”

The train rumbled in. Gerald carefully stepped into the car and immediately found a seat beside a shriveled woman, her hair a hard plastic shell. She studied him with a lack of humor and turned away. With a kick, the train started cross town. The water in the bowl sloshed dangerously close to running over the lip.

Watching the two goldfish, considering names for them, trying to discern personalities, Gerald suddenly became aware of a shadow standing over him. A teenager, dressed in a black t-shirt, his face an explosion of acne, leaned over the bowl.

“What the hell?” the teen asked. “Fish? Are they sanitary?”

Gerald wasn’t sure how to respond. “They’re in water.”

The teen shrugged. “Well then,” he said. His hand splashed downward, found one of the fish, and before Gerald could respond, plucked it out and dropped it into his mouth. He made a show of chewing and swallowed. With a gleam of satisfaction in his eye, he opened his mouth and stuck out a tongue to show Gerald the fish was now gone.

Tears welled up in Gerald’s eyes.

“What you gonna do about it, freak?” asked the other boy.

Without hesitation, Gerald’s hand dipped into the bowl. It took him a few awkward moments before he caught the other fish. A grim, defiant expression on his face, he looked up and popped the struggling fish into his mouth.

The two boys stared at one another.

Mumbling to himself, the teenager moved away. “Freak!” he called over his shoulder.

After a minute, Gerald leaned over and spit the goldfish back into the bowl. Wiping his eyes, Gerald whispered: “Don’t you worry, Roddy. Friends are overrated.”

The solitary goldfish, perhaps now wiser than before, swam about his transparent world.


Zoe Winters said...

That's awesome! Did you see my excerpt for KEPT? Everybody is posting fiction-y stuff right now.

Charles Gramlich said...

I had fish for dinner the other day. But I don't think it was goldfish.

Rick said...

You've been working out your creative biceps again, haven't you?

Stewart Sternberg said...

Zoe, I didn't see the excerpt...I'll double check it. Looking forward to it.

Charles, go ahead and scoff...

Rick, let's just say I'm scrappy.

Zoe Winters said...

L.A. Mitchell said...

I cringed when Gerald popped the second one in his mouth. I was on that train. I expected Granny to deliver the last line. Can't wait to read the next one.

Stewart Sternberg said...

thanks l.a. I actually liked this little snippet. I am tempted to actually expand this into some kind of story about conformity.

Aubreii said...

Love it! '...his face an explosion of acne' is a perfect line. This was fun to read and tied together nicely.

Gwendolyn said...

Everything was unexpected. Fantastic. It even has a literary theme!

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