Leigh Holman



The sign hung in front of the glass, "Please don't feed the fish." Molly stared at it for the longest time, then looked over to the man that she referred to as 'Grandfather'. Admiral Harriman Nelson sat at the lab table looking at something that he had collected on the slides in front of him.

She looked back into the tank, "It has eyelashes!"

"It's a girl!" Nickolas volunteered all his understanding as he peered into the tank beside her. "It's gots to be a girl… it gots red lips! Besides all girls have bushy eyelashes."

"It's not bushy… it'd that black stuff Ne'Ne puts on her eyes when she and Granddad are going out!" Molly explained to the small boy standing beside her.

"It's purdy!" Nickolas shouted looking into the tank as the small fish darted into the small castle that had been placed in the tank.

"Shhh! You scared her." Molly replied. "She's gone into her castle to hide from you and your mouth."

The little boy looked over at the older girl, his lip pursed out as he pouted," Ain't nuthin' wrong with my mouth…"

"Don't scare the fish!" Nelson warned the two children as he looked up from his work.

"She's got funny colors," Molly told him walking over to the table. "Why is she colored so brightly? She's purple and yellow!!"

"She's a salt-water fish…"

"You put salt in the water?" the small boy asked.

"It's ocean water," Nelson tried to explain.

"She's got her mouth open because the water tastes bad!" Nickolas announced.

"I swallowed the whole ocean one time… it tasted like…" He paused, "Daddy said that I can't say that word no more."

"You do and I'll tell!!" Molly announced. "You already got her hiding from you! Now you are going to say a bad word! Wait until I tell Daddy!"

The small fish came swimming out of the castle and stopped in front of the children, watching them move before her. She batted her eyes at them, the eyelash- like material sweeping the debris from her eyes. She could hear the sounds of the children filtering through the water but the colors flashing before her was fascinating to watch.

"What word did you say, Nickolas?" Nelson asked, suddenly concerned about the small boy.

"I told Daddy that I peed in the ocean." Nickolas told him.

"You said the word!!!!" Molly stated to him.

"But Grandpa asked me to say the word!" Nickolas replied, tears running down his cheeks.

The small fish darted into the castle again, peering out at the small boy that was crying in front of her.

"That's not so bad a word," Nelson said as he got up from the table. "Why don't we go get something from Cookie and see if we feel better."

"Yeah," Molly agreed. "You scared the fish again!"

Nelson looked back at the tank, watching the small fish bat her eyes at him as she swam out of the castle. She smiled and blew him a bubble that formed a small heart as it rose to the surface of the tank.

(The end)