Poor Messrs. Fish

This piece is an extract from our first print zine,ย Issue #1: Birth.ย Click here for more information.

Iย canโ€™t bear to harm a smiling face. A smiling face conceals a soul. A smiling faceโ€™s feelings are hurt when you mangle it. Eating it is bad enough, but throwing it away is reprehensible, and if I eat the smiling face it has at least served its life purpose.

Thatโ€™s why Iโ€™m sitting, edge-of-my-seat, eye-on-the-clock, flicking through a plate of goldfish crackers to find the ones with faces so I can eat them and rescue them from the garbage. It is very horrible of the makers of goldfish crackers to put faces on some but not all of the goldfish. This searching shaves precious minutes from the limited time I have for rescuing.

Really, Iโ€™ve gotten better since I was a kid. I used to allow chocolate bunnies to turn to sawdust on my bedroom dresser, the thought of them losing their ears for my own enjoyment too terrible to bear. Eventually the poor, chalky creatures were wrenched from my arms and put in the trash, lives wasted. Not today. These goldfish will have their forever homes inside me.

The cafรฉ messed up my order. The receipt must have sat in the little printer in the kitchen, alone and unseen by the cook, who was maybe on his phone or on the toilet. I had to go up to the cashier who took my order and, trying to conceal my panic, say, โ€œHi, uh, itโ€™s been kind of a whileโ€. He scuttled apologetically to the kitchen and back. My sandwich would be right up.

When I was eleven it was the vernal equinox and I took an egg from the fridge and tried to balance it on one end, like they taught me in science class. It worked. This egg was special, and as such I took my markers and gave him a smiling face and a small green yarmulke. No one was allowed to throw him out or evict him from his home in the back of the deli drawer. Within four years, the yolk and white within had solidified unevenly into a mass on one side of the shell. Now I could spin him around on the counter-top and watch him breakdance. But we got a new refrigerator, and he was not invited. Poor Mister Egg. He smiled and he could dance, and his life ended in a black plastic bag surrounded by used napkins and coffee grounds.

My sandwich is plopped on the pickup counter, but now my time budget is all off and I only have six minutes before I need to get back to work. My sandwich, a tuna melt on a croissant with lettuce and tomato, which I devour in under three minutes, rests on a bed of goldfish crackers. Some of the goldfish have become soggy and unappealing thanks to some tuna salad that has globbed out of the croissant. This makes things even more difficult, as it seems exponentially crueler to throw out a smiling fish afflicted with sogginess. I have no choice but to eat them in spite of my own discomfort.

Now I am finished and unpleasantly full. I need not have performed my search and rescue. Iโ€™ve eaten every last fish, faced and faceless.

This piece is an extract from our first print zine,ย Issue #1: Birth.ย Click here for more information.

The only outside writing contributor to Issue #1: Birth. Secret Cave hopes to feature more of Adrienne's compelling work in future issues!