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The Aquarium

The glass is thick

The Aquarium

He was at a loose end now that she had disappeared. Their last quarrel had been terrible. He had, as she recalled, told her off for being too clever and for having breasts that were unfashionably large. He couldn’t remember exactly what she had accused him of, but it was something to do with his emotional coldness. So be it, then, he thought to himself. It was safer to be like this. The little tempest that had darkened his sky and brought floods and conflagrations was gone. Are there still hailstones in Zion? He hoped not. 

Except that he began to miss her. She was the only one who could make him laugh,. the only one who had the nerve to dance in the rain. Her absurdities, her sideways glances, were hard to find now. How had she found it possible to kiss and smile at the same time? He tried it in front of the mirror but only succeeded in frightening himself. Well, he ought to make the best of things. Take his mind off it.

He wandered into town. Although quite late, the shop fronts were ablaze. The Aquarium was still open. Maybe it might be fun for him to go in, although it probably wasn’t so much fun for the fish. He paid for his ticket and strolled in. It was dark of course, and the vitrines were dazzling. Since it was a tropical sea-aquarium, the room was warm, indeed uncomfortably so. And yet he felt cold. He knew it was his heart, and that she had been his last chance to warm it. Too late now. 

Well, he wheeled and perambulated about. The watery world behind the tough glass seemed autonomous: the waving sea-grasses, the bubbling oxygen. A few irridescent neons flitted about, a huge angel fish that was transparent, a sea anemone entertaining itself with its own fronds. And then he saw her. It was her all right. She was behind the glass. 

He strode up to the thick carapace and rapped on it. She didn’t hear him at first. Her hair had grown very long, and the turbulent water seemed to make her skin creamy. There her breasts were, swaying in the current: but her other parts had been transformed. Where her legs and her vulva had been, there was now a  large tail: muscular, swaying, glinting like chainmail.  He banged on the glass again. 

She heard him this time, and sashayed up. Her gaze was steadier than before. He held out his hands to her, signalling that he was sorry, that he wanted to touch her, to hear what she had to say. Now, at last, he wanted to tell her how she made him feel. She put her hand up to the glass, flat with his, and shook her head. He began to weep at last, salty tears stored up for so long. But now she was living in the tears, they nurtured her. She must have new kin: and right at the back of the huge tank, he thought he saw a merman. He wore a necklace of shells. 

Suddenly he had a fierce desire to have a shell necklace too, and the same sinuous charm. But the water was not his medium.  Perhaps she felt imprisoned in her watery world, though she seemed lithe and happy enough. One last salty tear slid down his cheek, and then it was over. The dry and the wet. The silence and the singing. The quick steps on the pavement.

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