We

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”

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…

 

10 thoughts on “We

    1. Christine Post author

      We are fish. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.

      Doing this makes me appreciate how hard those writers worked to make the Borg believable.

      Reply
  1. skottydog

    Wow. I don’t know how I would have written from that perspective. Did you choose the fish, or was it a specific assignment? Either way, that was pretty kick ass.
    I would have described less eloquently, for sure. As in, “we swim. we poop. we swim in it anyway. We get caught. We lie on a grill. We lie on a plate. We are in a belly. Now we are in a bathroom. Now, we swim again.”

    Reply
    1. Christine Post author

      Your version has a certain simplicity and directness that I love. The circle of life, baby!

      I picked the fish. I just got to wondering what they were thinking as I cleaned the pond and they chased the net. I tend to project a lot of emotion and thoughts onto them that I know they are not capable of, and this is what came out of it.

      Reply
  2. Andi

    I love this – the experiment, the language. There’s something about mindfulness in this piece – maybe a longer essay with the idea that the moment is what matters?

    So awesome, Christine.

    Reply
    1. Christine Post author

      “The moment is what matters…” Maybe writing it will help me live it better?

      Thanks SOOO much for your investment in me and my writing. Honored to call you a friend and mentor!

      Reply
  3. Rachel Kain

    I like this very much. The hive mind at play in the school. I never thought about a school of fish thinking as one like that.

    Reply
  4. tim gallen

    it flows very poetically. at least that’s how i read it, and the language just felt more like verse than prose. that’s not a criticism, just an observation. the piece was excellent. one question kept going through my mind though: would the fish know the net is a net? 🙂

    Reply

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