Once upon a time, there lived a fish named Tom. Now I don’t want to go so far as to say Tom hated being a fish, but he was a touch unhappy. You see, he had a slight problem. Tom suffered from what he called a reverse dyslexia. Dyslexia is an ugly, technical word which means (sort of) mixed up. So a reverse dyslexia, you might figure out, should mean Tom was the exact opposite of mixed up. Well, that was not quite the case. Take my word for it. Simply put, Tom was very tragically sad, whether he believed he was mixed up or not. Poor Tom.
Since we have one fish in this tale, we may as well have two. Tom had a fishy friend named Eric, who was also a touch unhappy. Eric was sad, though, for more easily explained reasons. He so very much wanted to breathe the air above the sea and play in the sun—things fish are never allowed to do and are encouraged not to even want. These two unhappy fish, Tom and Eric, played together for a long time. Still, they stayed sad.
Eventually, Tom grew to hate the other fish, except for Eric. At least Eric tried to understand Tom’s vague feelings. The others never could be bothered—they just swam away from Tom to take their proper places in society. But Eric and Tom stuck together, alone. Poor Tom again.
About this time, there also lived a small boy named George. Being a boy, George could breathe in the air and play in the sun. Yet he too was usually unhappy because no one would play with him exactly like he wanted. Only his shadow did what he asked, and it only played with him when the sun was out. And, to be honest, it never did anything interesting.
George knew a lot of people up in the land of the sun but not very many were able to take him seriously, and those few who did were no better than his shadow. He would yell at those people till they left him alone. So you can see why George was sad. He cried every day, all the time. Poor George.
Meanwhile, back down in the deep sea, Eric and Tom were, as usual, swimming around in counter-clockwise circles when they heard, very faintly, a sound. A pathetic sound which they didn’t recognize but which moved them all the same. And it seemed to come from above, from the Place in the Sun!
The pair of fish made desperate bubbles to answer the sound, but they felt that wouldn’t be enough. What to do, what to do? They just had to know what was making that sound! Eric said there was only one thing they could do. Go up out of the water. Simple as that. They could at least try!
Tom, inspired, took several deep gulps of water into his fishy body and Eric copied him as best he could. Then, before common sense could intervene to stop them once again, the friends hurled themselves upward. And, as if in a hallucinatory dream, the pair of fish burst out of the sea and plop-plopped onto a deserted beach.
Deserted by all except one small boy—George! He had been crying there at the shore because he had come with some so-called friends who had not wanted to play the way he demanded they play. So they had finally ditched him to cry by himself. Now he sat and stared at the two emergent fish in amazement, and the amazement wiped away his tears for the moment.
“Hi,” Eric said.
“Wow!” George decided. “Talking fish on the beach! Let’s play!”
“We’re trying to follow a sound,” Tom grunted.
“Yeah, we’ll play some other time,” Eric agreed.
“The sound is gone,” Tom continued.
And it certainly was.
…to be continued