The big aquarium is gone: emptied out, broken down, and stored in a warehouse. I don't miss it. I just miss Sam, the State Fair fish. He was a give-away, breathing hard in his plastic bag. I remember the movement of him, getting jostled in the car, trying to attune to the movement of water, his large eyes and the gentle sucking frenzy of his jaws.
He grew so large he lost his color, as if he'd been bleached by sun. The only reminder of his previous splendor was a single golden scale near his tailfin. He lived ten years that way, became a creature of wonder.
Afternoons I'd explore, always ending up with my face pressed against the glass, looking at the wall lights covered by enormous scalloped seashells and at the red velvet carpet blooming with paisleys that looked like anemones. The room was spacious and grand. It reminded me of Cinderella's pumpkin that transformed by magic into a carriage. For hours I'd introspect and remember, staring at my own reflection, my image superimposed beyond the glass.
Where the aquarium once stood is now the wrong side of town, boarded up, with trash in front of the bus stop. The street no longer excites me. Outside, I can find nothing perfect. Sunlight, slanting, doesn't remind me of the way light looks underwater. I could swim for hours, just trying to escape all the ripples.
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