Monday, October 09, 2006

Squidward Falling In The Woods

In Australia, I had an apartment in Cairns. It was small and white and with lattice slats for windows beyond screens. A sliding door, a tiny kitchen that held only honey and bread, because that’s all I ate and no one told me I couldn’t. This was between fruit-picking possibilities, and at the end of my saved money.

In the apartment, I had a fish. His name was Squidward and he was a blue beta with purple wings. I bought him at the mall, which also housed the bank and the grocery store, the butcher and the bakery. He fluttered a lot, and for that, I gave him extra white stones from the cliffed edges of the bay to line his large makeshift pool, a huge vase balanced on wooden table with one solitary leg.

I came home one day dragging a crab pot and sat on the floor and watched Neighbors on an old TV, and he swam and scowled when I turned off the lights. I didn’t say goodbye, I didn’t say anything, of course. Squidward and I didn’t have that kind of relationship yet.

But when I woke up the next morning, under a whirling fan in the hot northern sun, something was wrong.

Squidward was gone.

Our windows were not open. Our door was locked. But Squidward was nowhere to be found.

Not in the vase, under the rocks.

Not on the floor, under the couch. (I was so forlorn at the prospect of finding his shriveled body curled around a chair leg that I delegated that task to someone else, both confused and relieved when he wasn’t there).

We searched every crawling inch of that apartment and he was nowhere.

Friends next door (one Aboriginal, the other from Papua New Guinea who turned the crab into coconut soup and joked about her cannibalistic family even though no one laughed) could not find a solution.

Well, one. That the apartment was haunted. But a ghost who tormented us by taking our fish? I couldn’t imagine that made sense.

And even if a cat had crawled through some unforeseen gap in the glass, surely that cat would have made some sort of crashing mess? There wasn’t room for anything to climb in and get Squidward unless they balanced on the table too, and it was small, and it would have fallen.

We never found out what happened to him. We don’t like to think about it—it’s as though we’re listening to the sound of one-hand clapping. Our own mind-clearing mantra of the unknown.

Did he spring legs and jump ship? Did he disintegrate in the night? Did he hate us and end it all, flip out of the water and hop towards the door and off into the sunset?

I don’t know. I’ll never know. That’s the tree falling in the woods for me: Squidward.

Today, he's my mantra, for mind clearing, soul searching, and everything else.


Anonymous said...

Love it!

c-47 said...

yours is not the first story where i have heard this happen. others out there have had fish vanish mysteriously in the night.

other possibilies include;

he ceased to be seen. physically still present but devoid of light or corporeal substance to reract said light. this would go under the heading "disappearing fish" i advertised more truthfully at the pet store.

which then leads too, it was a scam. a scam perpetrated by said pet store. where they sell you a fish then take it back several weeks later, only to sell it again to some poor unsuspecting sap.

or, my hope, he blinked off to another, parallel universe. the law of possibilities visited his bowl. gravity no longer applied, entropy gave way to regeneration and he slipped happily away to an adjoining universe.

my pre emptive regrets for poor spelling if there is any. its been a long day and i am left handed. chronically plagued by incorrect letter choices.

the guy above said...

note: the f key on this computer is wonky.

Cheetarah1980 said...

umm, how in the hellin does a fish just disappear? That's some odd stuff right there. For real, for real.

GeminiWisdom said...

That sounds kinda freaky-deaky. But your cottage sounded cute.

Anonymous said...

Loved this post gorgeous K. Everyone should say happy birthday to our writerly, painterly, wonderful friend.

goodness gracious! said...

dear k:

a) are you going to do beta? categories are a good thing, and reorganizing, categorizing, and revisiting 100 essays will definately keep you busy, and may even make you feel better, or different.

b) happy birthday!

c) as someone who calls herself an adult, unflinchingly, i can tell you no matter how crappy you feel or what the situation is, it won't go on forever. unless maybe you have to serve life in prison. and heck, even than, after a while you'd adjust, learn some new skills, crochet, lots of time for that novel. it'll be okay, somehow, someway.

goodness gracious! said...

actually, i just noticed the tags at the bottom of your post, there's just no category bar at the side of the page-unless my computer ain't loading it.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, darling!!

Majik said...

I always enjoy reading your posts. You blog is one of the few that I keep visiting ever single day. I just can't get enough of it! Keep on writing :)