Water surrounds me and covers my eyes and enters my nostrils. My mouth opens and water rushes in. It is slimy but I enjoy its feeling as it rushes through me and filters out through my gills. My eyes swivel upwards as little brown flakes of my supper appear on the water's surface. With a gentle tossing of my tail, I am at the flakes and sucking them into my mouth quickly until they are all gone. The water is cool and calm as I let myself drift down to the bottom, resting quietly on the glass floor now that my supper has all been consumed.
My life began in a tank. I was spawn along with my brothers and sisters on a plastic loaf that bobbed in the water. I never saw my parents, except through the filmy orange shell that I was raised in. But once I hatched, I was alone apart from my siblings, who took no notice of me, or each other.
We swam together in a tight group as though we were safe that way, but as we grew older and it became known who was considered male and female, we were taken away, one by one. I was not the first, nor was I the last to go.
When at last I was taken, I was afraid, but not too much, seeing how I did not know yet how life was meant to be.
A green net trapped me by myself and I tried to swim out but then the net had no water. I hung in a cold, airless suspension, the last of my lifebread dripping away from me as a rush of wind chilled my scales. But then I could breathe again. Water flew up and bubbles exploded around me as I entered a new body of water. It was a bit warmer than the tank, and much more shallow. I swam around, bumping into the walls until I remembered where they were, and with an uncertain feeling I knew I was utterly alone.
I was carried by colorful smears and smudges, tumbling around in my little bowl as vibrations jolted the water into waves, and at last I was placed somewhere sterile and still. I waited there, not knowing what I was waiting for.
Fainting through the bowl I could see as others in bowls were placed all around me, but I could not tell if they were from my nest. A brightness kept me from resting and supper was given to us at seemingly random times, and when it came I ate it up greedily.
Slowly those around me turned on their backs with their bellies poking up at the surface of their bowls, silently turning gray as their scales fell away from them. I did not worry. This was how life was for me and my kind. Why would I fear what inevitably must happen?
Then my scales began to loosen and I lost the desire to eat. Feces clouded my water so I could no longer see outside of my bowl. It did not feel good to breathe, but I could not complain. I was born, I lived, and now, it seemed as if it was time for me to die.
But it was not my time.
I was picked up and it startled me, the water jostling me around and shaking my scales off even more. Colors and great blinking eyes smudged all over my bowl. I did not know what was happening, but then after much disorienting tumbling, my bowl was tipped over and I slid out and for a moment I fell through the wind and though I could not breathe, jubilation filled my heart, for I thought I had died and that this free-falling was what it meant to die. But I hit water and sunk deep down into it, thudding into a hard, glass bottom.
I laid there for awhile, gulping in the clean water and swishing the slimyness onto my back with my fins. I felt good after not too long and looked up at the surface of the water and saw bits of supper waiting for me. I swam up and ate and I was content with my life.
Time passed but what is time to me?
I was simply happy that darkness came every once in a while, so I was able to rest. And I was happy my supper came as if it knew when I hungered for it. but most of all, I was happy my water was kept clean, though it did scare me when it came time for it to be cleaned. I had to be pulled from the water in a green net and put into a small container. But then when I was put back into my bowl the water would be clean, so I was glad.
Now I lay against the cool glass floor of my bowl, staring through the glass at the odd shapes and colors that pulse outside of it.
I wonder why life is different for some than it is for others. Why was I not one of those that passed away on the soft, white shelf? Why was I taken away, and brought here, to this place? But I decide it is best not to question it, for my life has been a good one so far, and I do not want to upset the waters.