Goldie / Catherine Tatem

I have a vague feeling I existed before, but I cannot remember. I twitch and discover the water around me will move to accommodate me. I swim forward, but a glass wall stops me. Alarmed, I circle around and find I am enclosed in a glass bowl.

Outside the bowl is a colorful and blurry world. It intrigues me. Nothing about this world makes sense. Framed paintings rest on walls, defying gravity. The ground is covered in a brown, fluffy carpet. Various knickknacks are spread about—their purpose I am unsure of.

A mighty creature enters the room. She doesn’t have fins, but instead giant limbs that clumsily stomp. Instead of gills she has a mouth, which looks like a gaping hole on her face. I am most fascinated with the hair protruding from her head. What is its purpose? It looks soft. I wish I had soft hair protruding from my head.

She sets down a large bag and kneels. Her blurry features grow. I back up.  She is eye to eye with me. I cannot calculate how much bigger than me she is.

She takes her index finger and taps the outside of the bowl three times. The water ripples from the impact. I panic. What is the meaning of this? What does this creature want from me?

“Hey Goldie, don’t be shy.” Her voice booms. She grins and her giant teeth glisten.

She stands up and rummages through a nearby cabinet. The racket is appalling. What a loud and ill-mannered creature. Every step she takes creates a vibration so enormous—I cannot stop shaking. Why has she taken it upon herself to disrupt my peace? The strange world outside this glass bowl was much more orderly without her.

“So today this dude starts yelling at me, because it was going to take thirty minutes to seat him. He starts freaking out and the whole restaurant just gets quiet and stares at us.” The creature claims a small container from the cabinet and inspects it. I fear for the small container. Her pointy fingernails grip it with malice.

“It was such a mess.” She rubs her left temple with her thumb. She must be activating her brain—thinking of ways to harm the small container. “I mean what do people expect from me?” She turns to face me.

I am startled. Does she expect me to answer her question? I do not think it is possible for me to form words. Communication never seemed so vital until this creature’s appearance. The creature nods at me.

“My thoughts exactly. People are insane! They get mad at the people for things they can’t even control. I can’t control how busy we get. Come on, I’m a hostess. My job is to seat people, not to regulate how busy we are.”

Now I am certain this creature isn’t wired correctly. She has imagined an answer from me, after I clearly gave none. She even admitted with zest that all creatures like her are insane. Now she is not only frightening and rude, but she is dangerous and unpredictable.

I must escape. But how? I am enclosed in a glass bowl. No tunnel exists that may lead to other bodies of water. There are many small pebbles at the bottom of the bowl, but they cannot help me escape. Maybe I can launch the pebbles at her if she attacks. Hopefully I could land one in her eye. I swim to the bottom of the bowl and attempt to pick up a pebble with my mouth.

“Aw, are you hungry Goldie? Don’t eat the pebbles. That’s not good for you. I’ll have to get some bigger ones for you instead.”

She has caught me in the act. Now she plans to replace the small pebbles with large ones so I cannot use them as a defense. She may be evil, but I have to admit she is clever. However, it still may be possible to launch one before she can do this.

I have to bury myself in the pebbles to finally grab hold of a single one. It is extremely difficult to balance in my mouth. I envy the creature’s opposable thumbs. She laughs manically at my attempts. How dare she? She doubts my capabilities because I am small. I feel a rage burn in my gills.

“This again. You’re so silly.”

I do not fully process that she has insulted me. Instead I am focused on her use of the word “again.” I have done this before? This may be the most frightening realization of all. This sick creature has trapped me and now I am caught in her sick cycle. She finds amusement in provoking me to the point of attack, over and over.

The cycle ends now. I know I have a miniscule chance of succeeding, but I also know I cannot let this go on any longer. I use my anger to fuel my attack. I launch the pebble, strategically aimed at her eye.

I am horrified with the pebbles performance. It went nowhere near the creature’s eye. In fact, it did not even leave the bowl. As soon as I launched it toward the creature it sank to the bottom of the bowl, right back to where I worked so hard to free it.

I grieve for my faulty performance. I struggled to defend my safety, yet all the labor I sacrificed was for nothing. I have only succeeded in further baiting the creature to action. And what can I do? I have no other means of defense.

“Yeah, I’m definitely replacing those pebbles. I really don’t want you to choke on one.”

I wait for her next move. She taps her fingers on the small container. I expected her to lunge at me after I fired. Yet she simply stands and taps. What is she planning? Whatever it is, it must be complex for her to think this much about it.

“Yep, this is the one,” the creature says. “Sorry I know you’re hungry, I just wanted to make sure it was the right stuff.”

The right stuff? Is this stuff for me? And what exactly is stuff composed of?

She nears the bowl and sprinkles something into her hands.

“You know what I love about you, Goldie? You never get mad and yell at me because you’re hungry. And you don’t even ask to be seated. I wish people were more like fish.”

Seemingly, she does not take as much offense to being attacked as she does to loud words. Interesting priorities.

She takes whatever she has sprinkled into her hands and dumps it in the bowl. A list of possibilities swims through my mind: poison, disease and fish ashes.

“Eat up, Goldie,” she says.

Poison it is. This is how my sad little life will end. But what do I have to lose? I am caught in the creature’s vicious cycle—maybe this is her way of letting me escape. I gather up all my courage and swim to the top of the water.

I eat the poison.

I am pleasantly surprised. Instead of killing me, this substance has given me energy and filled my stomach. In fact, I look forward to more.

The mighty creature smiles. “You’re always so grateful. I think I’d rather work with fish for a living.”

What a strange, strange creature. But for once I think that although she is strange, she is genuine. She did not kill me, but she fed me.

Maybe this insane creature does not have terrible intentions.

In fact, I feel my horrible memories of her slipping from my mind. I try to hold on to the last remnants of my thoughts. But the edges of my mind begin to fuzz and I realize I do not remember what I am thinking about.


I have a vague feeling I existed before, but I cannot remember. I twitch and discover the water around me will move to accommodate me. I swim forward, but a glass wall stops me. Alarmed, I circle around and find I am enclosed in a glass bowl.


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