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Fish Don't Cry

Page history last edited by Volkes_Wagon 12 years, 2 months ago

Fish Don't Cry


     After I got out of juvenile detention I had it tattooed across my face, right where my cheekbone ends half a centimeter below my left eye. Make it black and oozing as my blood, I told the tattoo artist, and he looked at me like I was a rabid cat off the street. He still did it, though.

     It was Saturday afternoon; the streets were jammed with cars and yelling people, and if I walked too far off the sidewalk grimy smog came up into my eyes and made me choke. City lights glared in the face of the clouded sun. The last time I'd walked the streets like this the moon was just a shadow, and I was puffing gray haze with Hannah laughing next to me. We pretended like we owned the world, and we liked it, even though in these tight alleyways we could hardly breathe without swallowing cigarette tar. I remember I'd looked up at the black night sky telling myself, tomorrow, it'll be blue.

     But who was I kidding? Carving scars into my flesh never got things to change. Smoke, bones, or ink-black blood; I could choose whichever and it wouldn't make a difference.

     Saturday afternoon. There was nowhere to go, nobody to go with anyways. People were all over the place who couldn't see past their own two feet, wanting to have their way, wanting to shove me into the street, wanting to beat me down. The sun was turning the ugliest color in the world, burnt orange, and still I could fry an egg on the sidewalk if I wanted to. And I'd just flushed the last of my green straight down the toilet in some pointless show of belated affection.

     I wasn't going to last without my fix much longer.

     "Rumble Girl?"

     My jaw tightened. I picked up my dirty Keds and kept going, but at the sound of his voice I'd forgotten how arms were supposed to swing in tune with legs.

     "Rumble Girl, is that you? Hey, it's me!"

     He jogged up from behind and cut in front of me, and I stopped.

     I shouldn't have; I should've went on walking and mowed him over clean and simple. But there was a scent that clung to him sweeter than honey or wine--a twitching little bait that I'd still try to grab if it was on the other side of Hell.

     He was the same as ever, like nothing had ever happened. Guys in the his line of trade have always got practice acting normal. Hands in his pockets. Sheepish smile. Soft tongue. But his eyes measured me up and down with a fly-sized flicker, and I knew with every inch of my skin that those were predator eyes.

     "Good to see you off the leash," he said gently.
     "What do you want?" I hissed, running a thumb over my fingernails. Cats could give their owners hell if their claws were sharp enough.

     "Hey, I was just worried, is all. The news said you were a wreck when you called the police."

     I was. I was sobbing myself to pieces.

     "If that's all, just get out of my way," I snapped. I rolled my tongue around my teeth and wondered how deep they could go in human flesh. Enough to make him bleed, maybe. Enough to make him cry.

     "I like the new tattoo," he said suddenly, the way girls compliment their secret crush when they bump shoulders in the hall. God, he was good at this. "What's it of? I can't tell."

     "None of your business. Shove it."

     "What? Come on." His smile softened. "I'm sorry. If I'd known that would happened to Alley Cat, I'd--"

     I spat at him. In the face. She and I were both laughing now.

     "Look," he wiped it off with his shirt, "I never meant for that to happen to her. If you play the fish right no harm's ever done."

     "Like there's a right way to play it, asshole. Who threw us the bite in the first place?"

     "I know. I'm sorry. But if she'd taken it slow like I told her to, she'd still be fine."

     He sighed, and shifted himself closer till I could see black mascara against the whites of his eyes.

     "I mean, what can I say? How do I make this up? It's what happens when you tug too hard on the bite, you tear your own insides to shreds. You know that, right?"

     I grit my teeth.


     We were all dying, that was what I knew. The stuff Hannah and I called fish ate you up from the inside, slow if you took it slow, fast if you stuck a needle of it up your arm and shot the whole load, but either way always burning, burning a hole deep down there somehow.

     "It's all your fault," I told him. "You're the Fisherman. I'll bet you already knew it was the end of the line and just took her money for all its worth."

     "No." He looked me in the eye and said, "I would never."

     I got chills. He always did that, even from the first time we met. I knew that to him I was just a rotting old catch, just another fish to suck dry in those predator eyes, predator eyes.

     But the way he talked and smiled like that made me want to cry.

     He did his little fly-flicker glance around to make sure the coast was clear, then slipped an old Ziploc bag from his pocket and into mine. "Pinched it off some freshies' sales," he said quietly. "Wish I could do more. I'm sorry. Really." He squeezed my hand. "See you around?"

     The sun was dipping lower, staining everything that ugly orange and black, and I watched him slip away into the crowd. The white powder felt heavy in my pocket, but I left it sitting there.

     I couldn't help it. He had me hooked.

     My feet carried me away from the street, away from the crowds, back toward the only home where I knew I would always be welcome. Down the old sidewalk squeezed between two high-rise flats, I stuck one hand in my pocket and touched my fresh tattoo with the other. It was here. Hannah and I were walking these streets that night, on our way to the fishing hole. Now I was walking alone, and all that was left of her was her entire life story stamped into my face. The tattoo of a crying fish hooked on a line, black and oozing, half a centimeter below my left eye.

     I found the fishing hole: a gutter that stunk so much nobody else ever went close. This was our favorite place to get high. I sat down in a patch of dry and took out the sack of powdered drugs, remembering the times we used to hang out here, just Hannah and me, having the time of our lives.

     It was here. Just her and me sitting by the gutter, owning the black night sky. And then it was just me screaming into my cell phone, as her blood vessels burst and her heart stopped beating and my world cracked into two sad halves.

     They called her Alley Cat but her real name was Hannah. I was the only one who called her Hannah and she was the only one who called me Emma, and together we owned the world.

     I held a pinch of fish between my fingers, rubbed it. Then I dumped it all into the liquid filth, the whole bag down the gutter, because my face wasn't enough to remember Hannah by. Maybe the reason we fucked up our whole lives was because we had nothing but fish to fill our hollow souls. Hannah and I, this was all that we amounted to.

     Because fast lives were always short, always short, and I couldn't help thinking as the sun set and the muck gleamed orange gold and the stink of week-old trash blew up into my face that this one wasn't worth it.

Comments (3)

Volkes_Wagon said

at 5:07 pm on Apr 2, 2012

this story is me, a fish, trying to be like a rooster. it's friggin' hard. you think anyone will be mad if i try to submit this for my school lit magazine?

Volkes_Wagon said

at 5:49 pm on Apr 10, 2012

guess i'll have this be the uncensored version and try to submit the censored one.
oh yeah, and Ava? mind changing the title to Fish Don't Cry for me? <333

Volkes_Wagon said

at 9:35 pm on Apr 11, 2012

thanks :D

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