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Oona & Phyllis

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The hustle and bustle of the train station would make the warzone look like a cake walk. Babies scream louder than the train whistles, mothers are ringmasters to the beasts, and business people are walking around, looking anxious and slightly pissed off.
Despite all the chaos, you’ll notice a girl. She’s young, maybe nineteen or twenty. She’s sitting on a bench in front of the board announcing train arrival and departure times. Her bangs are a little too long, but she’s cleverly hidden this fact with a floppy hat. Her outfit is typical for a summer day in France, flats, jeans, and cardigan. A bulky suitcase lies at her feet, covered in stickers of foreign places I’ve never even heard of.
But that’s not the interesting part, look at her lap. What is that? It’s…it’s a glass bowl? It seems to have water in it. Wait…is that a fish inside? Why on Earth would she have a fish in a train station?

Let’s move closer.

She looks at her watch and begins tapping her foot, resulting in her fish bowl shaking and water droplets flying out.

“Oh, oh sorry Phyllis!” She stops shaking her leg and strokes the outside of the bowl in a reassuring manner, not that it would matter much to relax a fish. Suddenly, the girl kicks out her leg to stop an ongoing business man. This fish is beginning to look frazzled.

“Pardon-moi,” her voice quivering with uncertainty. “Uh, est-ce…est-ce…time? Crap, time…” she jams her finger at her watch, balancing the bowl in her lap. “Time? The, uh, le train au Charles-de Gaulle? L’aeroport?”

The business man rolls his eyes so far back into his head, he could probably see down his throat at this point.

“Tuesuneamericainestupide! Le panneau!”

The girl’s eyes widen. She doesn’t understand a word of French.

“Two…in American? Perfect! Thank you! Merci!”

He then waves his briefcase toward her lap.

“Le poisson?”

“Le poisson? Uh, yes, my fish! Oh, Phyllis!” The girl raised her fish bowl. “Phyllis, I’m studying her. Marine biology.”

The business man doesn’t understand a word she says, and he really doesn’t care. He nods his head in an understanding manner and walks away briskly. She’s examining her fish now. Her fingers trace the outline of the bowl, she is da Vinci and this is her Mona Lisa. The fish isn’t an average goldfish, no, its scales are coated in a deep purple, like ripened grapes and its eyes seem to be a shade of lavender. The fish swims in a nonchalant way, unaware of its stunning beauty.

“Looks like our train’s at two!” Just you and me, Phyllis and Oona, facing the International Aquatic Life Convention in Australia together. You, madame, are very important!”

A young boy, holding his mother’s hand, looks in bewilderment at this grown up talking to a fish.

The girl looks at her watch.

“Rats pajamas! We have 5 minutes to get there!” She stands up, fishbowl in one hand, suitcase in the other. Her gangly limbs bump past the crowd, she’s rushing to her platform.

It’s really too bad she doesn’t speak French, because she’s boarding the train to Germany instead.



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