During the month of October, I participated in Writers Unite, a one-month challenge to focus not on platform or marketing, but on writing for the love of writing. This tied in well with my career change, and it also coincided with the start of Andi Cumbo‘s online Short Story class. Because of this beautiful coincidence, I chose to focus on improving as a storyteller.
One of the hardest things for me is to write from a perspective that’s not my own, and then try to give an honest voice to that perspective. To get better, I must tackle that.
This piece is a very radical experiment (for me, at least)…it’s told from the collective perspective of a school of goldfish in my pond, as I was doing some fall cleaning.
(ps…it’s harder than you think to write from the perspective of characters incapable of remembering more than 4 seconds ago, of thinking at all into the future, or of applying any greater meaning or context to what is happening. Dori is a lot closer to the truth than Nemo!)
We float; the sun warms the surface, three-fish-deep. We drift, basking, warming our scales.
A crispy leaf drifts to the surface near us. We twitch. We turn. We warm some more.
We feel hungry. We slowly twitch a fin, a tail. We find a rock. We nibble at the strings of soft green algae.
We feel heavy steps vibrate through the water; we move together as one. We dart as one as deep as we can hide in clear water. We feel exposed.
The surface of the water breaks. The leaves move, something from above pushing, pulling. Leaves rise off the surface in big batches in a black net, leaving a wake of delicious drifting crumbs spinning in the water.
We love when the water moves; we are drawn to the current. We chase the net as it dips and dives and chases the leaves. We play with it. We get close until our fear overtakes our curiosity. We dart away. We return.
We get trapped in the current in front of the net, we wiggle and twitch fins, but the net moves too fast, the current is too strong. We are stuck.
But the net slows, hangs back just enough for us to get ahead, to dart beyond the current. We escape. We feel the pull as the net pulls strong again through the water, filled with leaves and not us.
We play in the murky water where the net has dipped deep. It picks up the soggy dead leaves on the bottom, stirring the muck, making the water spin. We dart in and out. Clean to murky, murky to clean. Chase the net. Dart away. We play.
The water calms, it becomes still. We dart from end to end, we swim laps through bits of leafs sinking through the muck. Tiny clouds of muck settle back to the bottom. The water clears.
We eat. We swim. We rest in the last warm, setting sun.
Can you imagine how a fish would explain his day? Leave a comment…