portion of the artwork for Nora Nadjarian's stories

In Case of Emergency, Break Glass
Nora Nadjarian

If you’ve noticed your fish bashing or rubbing its sides in a jerky movement on the substrate, plants, or décor in the aquarium, there must be something irritating it. It could be you watching it through glass, depriving it of its privacy, it could be the high-pitched argument you’ve just had with your spouse, it could be the colour of the wall behind the fish tank. Your fish is beautiful and damned. It shimmers in the soundless bottom. It tries to speak to you, under the water. Watch its lips going O. O. O. Lip-read its O. O. O. Is it the cry of agony, or simply a repetition of boredom? It could be the language of latent irritation. The cycle of monotony.

Reflect also on the following: what would happen if a fish forgot how to swim? Isn’t the shape of a fish’s backbone the very image of two opposing arguments bristling? Is the one, constantly open, all-seeing eye of a fish a sign of madness? Consider these questions as they knock on each side of your head, first right temple, then left temple, then both temples together, loud insomniac knocks, as you pathetically, pointlessly try to fall asleep with your spouse sprawled all over the bed, in fact taking up three quarters of the double bed, going heavily under, under, under that elusive place of exotic, erotic dreams.

The fish with the moon face, round mouth, open eye, never sleeps. It is already morning, and a stark orange light stares at you. O. O. O. The sun. The day breaks. Your spouse. More lies. Your lover. Another day. O. O. O.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 57 | Spring/Summer 2021