~Fish~

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FISH
by E. Margaret


I couldn't help being jealous of her.

She was so beautiful, so successful. She had everything I wanted. I didn't think she needed him, too.

I don't think he ever realized how much he meant to me. He was so sweet, so kind. He made me smile and I loved everything about him. But he never knew. I was too much of a coward, and she was who he wanted. So I waited. I still talked to him and laughed and listened to his problems. We would always be friends, but I would always feel like there had to be more than this.

One night, walking down the street, I saw him, in tears, clutching a bouquet and standing on her doorstep. No matter how much I wanted to tell him he was stupid to think she wouldn't break his heart, I sat beside him on these steps and tried to comfort him as he sobbed heavily onto my shoulder. I patted his back and told him the same old "plenty of Fish in the sea" speech, wanting so badly to say, "And your tears are soaking the shoulder of one particular Fish who really, really loves you."

He looked at me, his normally sparkling eyes wet with warm tears.

"I'm running out of Fish, Sheri," he said softly.

I glanced away.

There's still more, I thought. You just don't see her.

"There are many types of Fish, though, Mickey." I picked at the frayed laces on my sneakers. "You see, you're looking in America. America's not the only place in the world. There are Canadian Fish, Mexican Fish, French Fish, British Fish, Irish Fish, Russian Fish," I looked up and grinned. "...Fried Fish, Fish 'n chips, Fish Sticks, Gold Fish, Cat Fish, Bass Fish..." I went on listing all the types of Fish that came to mind. Mickey tried to laugh for my sake, but even I knew I wasn't funny. I was trying though, because that's what friends are for. You know, making stupid jokes so they laugh when they get dumped instead of telling them, "I told you so, you dumbass." It never helps, but it's better than making them feel bad.

"Why Fish?" Mickey asked suddenly.

"Huh?" I had been thinking up different kinds of Fish I hadn't named yet.

"Why Fish? They're slimy and scaly. Why do they say plenty more Fish in the sea when you break up with someone? I mean, no one wants to kiss a Fish. That's just nasty."

I frowned.

"Ummm..." I stared at him. Then I laughed. "Only you would wonder that, Mickey."

"What? I'm serious! Why Fish?"

"I don't know. I really don't."

Mickey stared at the bouquet of flowers he had bought for Jennie, his now ex-girlfriend.

"About twenty dollars down the drain," he muttered, kicking the dozens of roses and lilacs and baby's breath to the ground. It was gorgeous and there were blue ribbons tied around the paper it was wrapped in. They all spilled out over the steps and onto the ground. Suddenly they looked just like garbage, nothing else. Mickey looked at me. "She said that there was another. This...George guy." He wrinkled his nose. "I dunno. Anyway, apparently she's been seeing him for quite some time now. I guess I'm glad she came out and told me the truth. I just wish..." He swallowed. "I just wish I knew what was wrong with me."

"Come, now," I said softly. "Don't get yourself cryin' again. She's not worth it."

"All right," he murmured. "Come on, Sheri, I'll walk you home; it's late."

"That's all right, I'll be okay. What I want to know is, will you be okay?"

He sighed.

"I don't know."

That was the last time I saw my best friend and only love.
--


I remember waking the next morning to my Mother's voice, slightly shaken, speaking softly to me.

"Sheri, dear, I think you should get up. Honey, please get up," she said. Surprised, I opened my eyes. Usually, if she needed me up right away, she just shouted up the stairs for me to get my butt out of bed.

"Yes, Momma?" I mumbled, half asleep.

"Honey, Mickey's dead," she whispered.

I bolted upright.

"What?" I shouted. "Momma, what is this, a sick joke? Oh, Momma, it can't be true, I just saw him last night and he was perfectly healthy!"

Momma shook her head slowly.

"Oh, honey. He wasn't sick, no. I know this is going to be hard on you.” She took my hand into her own gentle, warm ones. “They found him on his bedroom floor this morning. He slit his wrists."

Trembling suddenly, I leapt out of bed. I hadn't slept the greatest, and the assumption that this was my imagination immediately came to mind.

"This can't be true!" I yelled. "You're lying! No, I'm dreaming, aren't I? I'm still sleeping!" I ran out to the living room and sure as I was standing there, his face was on the news, the reporter talking about the "unexpected tragedy" that had occurred. My best friend was dead. He had committed suicide.

Momma came to me.

"Honey, please calm down," she pleaded.

I knew why he had killed himself. He wasn't all right last night. He wasn't all right at all. Jennie had cheated on him and he felt like he wasn't good enough. It was all her fault. Mickey was dead, and Jennie was to blame.

"Damn it! Damn her! How could she be so thoughtless? Damn her!"

"Who, dear?"

I didn't feel like explaining. Instead, I fell to my knees on the floor and sobbed into my hands. Momma knelt beside me and wrapped her arms around me.

"There, there, honey. Shhh, it's all right. God's holdin' him now, baby. God's holdin' him."

"Oh, Momma," I cried. "Can't God give him back? Can't He?"

"I'm afraid not, baby. It's gonna take some time to heal. But in the meantime, try to smile. That's what he'd want."

"Momma, he's so cruel. He's so awful."

"God, honey? No, He isn't. He doesn't mean to seem that way."

"Not God. Mickey. Didn't he see that there were people here that loved him every bit as much as he wished Jennie did? Didn't he see that by killing himself he'd only hurt us? Hurt me? Momma, how could he be so selfish?"

"I don't think he realized that there were so many more Fish in the sea other than Jennie. He really cared about her. I think that feeling blinded him. The feeling of losing her probably overwhelmed him to the point where he wanted to die. I can see why you're angry at him. You have every reason to be angry and grief-stricken all at once."

"I loved him, Momma," I whimpered.

"I know you did, sweet pea. But you also need to see that there are more Fish in the sea."

"I don't want a different Fish," I sniffled.

"That's the same issue Mickey had," she said.

"I know," I whispered. "I know."
--

A few days later I somehow found enough strength to attend his funeral. I had barely eaten or slept in days and even after a shower and applying makeup I looked absolutely wretched. I pulled on a black skirt, blouse and black heels. That was the day I learned to hate black. Yet I began to wear it so often. The sky was dark and overcast that day. It was supposed to rain later, so they had the funeral early, before the ground began to turn muddy and suck itself together whenever they tried to dig. I stared at my feet as the preacher recited a few passages from the Bible. Some birds were singing, as if to mock my sorrow. I wanted so badly for them to die, to drop right out of the trees. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of Jennie, bawling into her hands. Such audacity she had to show herself here, when she was the reason for his suicide! How dare she come and act as if she cared? Worse, beside her, his arm around her, was her new boyfriend, George, the one she had left Mickey for, the one she cheated on him with. Must she torment Mickey even in his death? I hated her even more than ever today. I hated Jennie, I hated George. I hated the preacher who tried to make such a tragedy as death sound glamorous, I hated the birds that sang so cheerfully in the trees above us. I even hated Mickey for being so selfish to kill himself and inflict this pain upon all of us. More than anyone, I hated myself, for not telling him I loved him when I still had the chance. Now he was gone, and I'd never see him smile again.

Each of us in turn went to the casket to pay our respects to the deceased. I thought I could never bring myself to go up there, but I did. I rested my hand over his cold, dead one. I gazed at him, tears glistening in my eyes. He didn't even look like himself, all gussied up in a suit like that, his hands forced into a folded position on his chest. The tears drizzled down my cheeks and I tore myself away from the remains of my best friend. My mascara smudged, but I could've cared less. I began to cry. I cried longer and harder than I ever had, and the worst thing was I knew it wouldn't do any good--Mickey was never coming back.

It began to rain as Momma and I walked home. We walked in silence. No words were needed to explain what we were both feeling, because words would only make it worse. When we finally got home, I remained on our porch, watching the rain make the ground into a mucky soup.

"Coming inside, baby?" Momma asked.

"Not yet, Momma," I murmured. "I'm gonna stay out here for a while. Is that all right?"

"Go ahead, honey. Come in when you want to." She walked inside and shut the door quietly.

I leaned on the railing of the porch, not really caring how the rain had soaked me through to the bone, raising the goose bumps on my skin. My hair was plastered to my head, the curls flattened out by the relentless raindrops. The streets were bare for a Saturday, as if the world had shut down in memory of Mickey. I caught a glimpse of someone walking down the empty street. It was Mickey's mother, Donna. She crossed the street to our gate, opening it and walking up our sidewalk to our porch.

"Hello, dear," she said.

"Hello, Donna," I said.

"Mickey...he really did care about you, honey."

I didn't know how to reply. She stuck her hand in her pocket and dug around for a while, then pulled out an envelope. It had my name on it in Mickey's familiar handwriting.

"We found this on his dresser after we found him..." She broke off. "Anyway, we thought we oughtn't read it. It was addressed to you, after all. Here." She handed it to me.

"Thanks, Donna," I murmured. I pocketed the envelope. We looked at each other for a moment, then we both burst into tears. We hugged, crying on each other for the longest time. How many tears had I shed in these past three days, I wondered? How many thirsty children could be quenched from the waters that had rushed from my eyes?

"Go read it, dear," Donna said, letting go of me. "It may bring you some peace."

"I will. Take care, Donna."

"You too, Sheri."
--

The envelope remained on my desk for weeks. All I wanted was to forget everything about Mickey and Jennie and his suicide. I wanted it to all just go away. It wasn't going to go away and I wasn't going to wake up and realize it was all a dream. This was real life, and I had to deal. One night, one of the several I awoke past midnight crying, my eyes glanced toward the envelope.

Go read it, dear. It may bring you some peace. Donna's words echoed through my mind. Taking a breath, I reached for the envelope. I opened it and pulled out the folded paper inside it. My body ached with sorrow when I unfolded it to see Mickey's handwriting covering it. It was hard to think this was written the day so long ago when he killed himself.


Dear Sheri,


My eyes filled with tears again at just the first two words. I could hear his voice, as if he were right there, talking to me.


Dear Sheri,

By the time this gets to you, I will have been long dead. I know it's hard for you to understand why. I think I've just had enough of everything. Sometimes, it is all too much. It's not just Jennie cheating on me that makes me feel this way, though that has been a very large factor in this ending. Over the last few months, nothing has felt quite all right. It's just not worth living anymore. I don't like what I see when I get up in the morning. Every day there are people dying, children starving, bombs being set off. And what good does any of it do? It doesn't. The world gets worse and worse and nothing changes anymore. I feel so worthless, Sheri. I can't do anything to make a difference. I can't do anything to ease any of the pain that anyone is feeling.

I can't stand that no one is happy anymore. Seeing everybody so unhappy makes me feel like doing something--anything­--to make them smile. I want everyone to be happy. But I can't make them happy, Sheri. It's completely out of my hands. And it drives me mad. If I can't make any difference in the world, what good is it for me to be here?

I was thinking of what you said about Fish, and how there are plenty of them in the sea. All those Fish, so to speak, are different, and each of them has their own problems and dreams and worries. Most of them will never find the solution to their problems, and each Fish wants that one Fish they can never get. Sheri, I thought I could never live without Jennie. But I can. I've opened my eyes now--who has been there for me this whole time? Who has made me smile? Who has cried with me and laughed with me through all these years? You have, Sheri. I think you're the last thing in the world that's worth it. However, this Fish is too cowardly to tell you he loves you. I love you, my Fish, but it's time for me to go. I cannot do any good in this world. There's nothing to live for. I hope you understand this jumble of words. I can hardly make any sense of it myself. All I know, Sheri, is that I don't want to go on living. I'm not as strong as you are. I can't smile through the pain as easily as you do. I wish to God I had your strength.

Goodbye, my Fish, and I love you.

Forever yours,
Mickey.


With tears blinding my sight, I could barely make out the ending letters, and the P.S. at the end.

P.S.

F.I.S.H
Find In Sorrow, Happiness.
Don't cry, Sheri. In your sorrow, look around a bit. There is happiness remaining, also.


So I found happiness.

I smiled through my tears, because I had the strength. I carried on, never giving up even though I'd lost someone I loved, because there is always hope. There is always hope, and there is always happiness. Mickey believed in me, and I devoted the rest of my life to making a difference. I donated money to charities worldwide. I went on missions to take food to children in Africa. Whenever I saw someone with a frown upon their face, I did the best to turn it into a smile. I only wished that Mickey had been alive to see that, yes, you can make a difference, whoever you are. All you have to do is Find In Sorrow, Happiness, and try to share that happiness with those around you.

The End.





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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

Phoenix611 said...
May 8, 2010 at 4:53 pm
wow that is amazing
 
E.Margaret replied...
May 8, 2010 at 7:13 pm
Thank you! =)
 
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