A wrote this (on the spot) on the TSR Forum which I rejoined under the user Rhiannon. No feedback on it yet, but I kind of liked this. An author can't help feel pride for their work, even if there may be mistakes in it... However... Read and enjoy!


The fish swivels around in its tank, tiny little bubbles floating to the surface. There are pebbles at the bottom of the tank; grey, white and black. That and there's also a some weeds and also a tiny little castle, but she don't like it. She doesn't like the castle.

I put my hand in the tank and the goldfish swims away like I'm going to hurt her or something. I pick up the castle and move it a few inches to the left, pushing some of those pebbles out of the way. I press my face up to the glass and mum's saying, 'Don't Tim. You'll scare Shirley.'

Shirley's our goldish. She's got orange scales.

'Tim what are you-' mum says, only just noticing what I'm doing and she screams loudly as I pull my hand out of the tank and hold them over my ears b'fore she does it herself. She shoves me slightly in the back and points at Shirley who's now up to the glass staring at me with those big eyes and its mouth opening and shutting like it's talking but no noise comes out. 'You could kill her! The man at the shop said she's old, Tim, try not to scare her.'

'I want her to go in the castle,' I tell her and she breaths out loudly and puts a hand on my shoulder before gently pulling my palms away from my ears.

'She's scared of the castle, Tim.'

'Yeah, but I can still want her to see it, don't I? It's not gonna hurt her!'

'It will because she's scared of it, Tim.'

I groan and my eyebrows furrow together, Shirley's mouth is still opening and closing, and then she turns around and swims in the weeds. I bought that castle for her, she should like it, there's nothing wrong with it. I tell mum this but she shakes her head.

'It's new. You only put it in five minutes ago, she's not used to it yet. Be nice to her, okay?'

She ruffles my hair and goes back to her work desk, looks over a few papers, puts them into a manilla folder and walks out to the kitchen. 'I'm going to make a sandwich, do you want one?'

I shake my head stubbornly. I wasn't going to eat till Shirley got into the castle - I mean, she'd get used to it - she was a fish. I hoist up my sleeve again and my hand sinks into the freezing water, goosebumps prickling my arm. It's cold, it's cold. The bubbles which come up from the bottom of the tank tickles my hand. I'm only just tall enough to get my arm to the bottom so the glass cuts into my armpit.

'Shirley, come on.'

My fingers curl around the model's hard surface and I move it across the bottom, staring out of the corner of my eye at the colourful moving figurine. The goldfish floats out of the weeds and stares at the castle, then she swims through it and sits in the middle of it.

My teeth are peeking through my mouth. Success! Success!

'Mum! MUM!'

Splashing water everywhere I run into the kitchen, mum in the middle of cutting her sandwich in half. She looks at me and her eyes widen in shock.

'Mum! Mum!' I cry. 'Shirley's in the castle! She's in the castle, mum!'

The knife clatters onto the kitchen bench and she rushes forward and I sink against the door as she approaches like a giant - like the giant from Jack and the Beanstalk. She yanks something out of my hand.

It's the castle with the goldfish still inside.

'Oh my god, what did you do? Quick! Out of the way!'

But she pushes me out of the way and rushes through to her study, the door flying open with a screech. I hear a splash in the background as the castle is plunged back into the tank. I feel tears whelling in my eyes, my hand wet, numb from the cold - it was really cold. Then I hear the hurried feet stamping back and she's kneeling down in front of me, placing the castle in my clammy hand, the fish still inside. Shirley's eyes are wide and her mouth is open, but it doesn't shut again; she doesn't move.

As I push the fish out the castle into my spare hand and I put the castle on the floor, I look into mum's face and she plasters a smile on across it like she's trying to be nice, but the smile isn't the least bit friendly. Her eyes are cold and my head is heavy, the slimy fish limp in my palm.

'Shirley,' I barely whisper, and mum doesn't hear me but points down the hallway where the bathroom is.

'You know what to do. Just put her down the toilet and flush her away.'

I look down at the orange scales. 'She'll be with the other fish?'

'Yes,' mum tells me before standing to her full height, going to the door and walking back down the hallway into her study, maybe thinking that we'll get a cat next time, or a dog, but doctor says fishes are just fine. Mum says this before she leaves, an addition to her reply, 'Just like Bobby... Ted... Maxi... Anna... Bottles... Eric... Janet... Carrie, and Freddy...'