Aquarium

April 8, 2011
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Everybody sees the fighting fish to be the specter of beauty when it in fact finds itself to be the abomination of its reflection, to which it must fight until its death, where only then it will be free from the contents of its cell. All in all, it was war, I recalled.

The fighting in Vietnam was brutal, and I couldn’t shake off these thoughts as I passed the Siamese fighting fish exhibit. Siam, Thailand, South Asia, Vietnam; one word led to the next in my mind. Even though it was forty years ago, those memories never left me. But what I hated most about the war was that when I returned to the States, I was hailed as a hero. And here I was, fighting my own reflection.

I coughed a little, as my old heart started to work up. I tried my best to forget about my old heart as much as I tried to forget about the horrid phantoms of the fighting. I came to the aquarium to enjoy myself, to relax and let go of every nagging thought and complaint. So I took a deep breath and proceeded to the next exhibit.

I had also passed through the seahorse nursery at the beginning, and after that, I saw the young beluga whales playing in the crystalline waters without a care in the world. After that, came the fighting fish and I was now at the hermit crabs.
A hermit crab crawled up to the glass across from my curious pointer finger, with a quite bewildered expression displayed across its tiny eyes. All in all, it was rather comical, seeing this tiny crustacean eyeing my hand like I was its deity, its god. But I was not. I was just an old man myself.
I tapped harder on the glass, until a supervisor approached me; a diminutive sort of woman with a beaked nose like a dying parrot and sagging skin covered with glasses. The lady pointed her finger, and in a nasal and raspy voice, whined, “Please sir, do not tap on the fish tanks.”
I was to reply but a thick cough prevented me from doing so and I simply nodded and simply left the old employee, moving on to the next exhibit; the octopus. A worker told the spectators that this old octopus had been a beloved member of the aquarium for many years, and as the people moved on to the brand-new hammerhead shark attraction, I stood behind and looked at the grandpa octopus.

My heart started to violently act up again, but I shrugged it off and underplayed it. The partly-visible octopus was now crawling out of its rocky abode, and it swam in my direction. Its tentacle extended towards the glass, almost as if it wanted to touch my finger. So ignoring the complaining employee from the crab exhibit just behind me, I touched the glass parallel to the octopus. By now, my heart was going to explode.
All at once, the octopus’s pale color swirled into a multi-colored complexion as time stood still. Soon, the whole room exploded with color; the psychedelic shades of the cuttlefish covering the walls and floor. Then, the world returned to normal and the toothpaste-blue walls were sprung up again. And then I looked down, and found myself a sea creature in the exhibit, watched by all as life swam before my eyes.





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