What a Fish Knows

By Anna Botsakou <abotsakou@in.gr>

Rated: G

Submitted: August 2003

Summary: What can a goldfish know about its owners? In the case of the Kents' goldfish, quite a lot, and he'd like to share it with us.

A big thanks to everyone who encouraged me to write this, and especially to Jana — although her fishy story troubled me at the beginning, I don't know how long this story would have remained in my mind , unless I'd had this motive to begin it.

Another special thanks to Anni the Diva for B- Reading it.

And finally, a big thanks to everyone who dares to read this :).

So, here goes:

>=> >=> >=> WHAT A FISH KNOWS >=> >=> >=> >


Let me introduce myself. My name is 0049, for the moment. I am a male goldfish. I am bright red and yellow, and I have a few black spots, including a black ring around my left eye. I'm quite attractive, I think. I live in a glass bowl, in Gracey's Pet Shop, 57, Norton Street, with ten of my siblings.

Life is interesting here. Many people come in every day. They sometimes buy pets, or food for their pets, but usually they just take a look around and leave. These people are mostly children. I don't really like children, because if Therese, the shop woman, is not watching them, they put their dirty hands in the bowl and try to catch us.

Therese, on the other hand, is a great woman. She's short and fat, about fifty-years-old, with light-brown hair and a pleasant smile. She loves all pets. This shop is not hers, unfortunately. It belongs to Grace Gilbert, a very old woman who comes here very often to see how things are going. I know that it sounds strange, but she seems to hate pets. But nobody here likes her anyway. My little sister, 0056, calls her "Antique". Maybe I sound mean, but she's not wrong. Therese doesn't like her, either, because Grace always yells at her and tells her she doesn't do her job right. However, I disagree. Plus, I've heard Therese saying she's been working in pet shops for twenty-five years.

"Did you know that a goldfish's memory only lasts three seconds?"

What? Who dares interrupt my train of thought with such false words?

"Really, Clark?"

Aha! So your name is Clark, buddy.

"Yes. I read it in a science magazine."

One of the things I hate about humans: they think they know everything, just because they read it, or saw it, or who knows what. Not just this Clark guy. Everyone. The people who wrote that magazine, for example. How could they lie like this? Some scientists they are. The truth is, that we are smarter than the humans. At least we can understand them. They can't understand us. They won't even notice if I tell 0047 something right now. And we're right under their nose.

Well, let's see what we've got here. They must be a couple, for the woman is leaning on that Clark's arm. Clark is tall, muscular, and good- looking. Still, I don't like him. I don't like his comments, and therefore I don't like him. He has a pleasant smile and look, but…0049 doesn't get fooled this easily!

However, the woman… She doesn't seem to be the I-know-everything type. Well, I'm not sure yet whether this is a good or a bad thing. She seems to love Clark very much, and she would believe everything he told her. Still, she's rather pleasant, more than this hypocrite, and looks happy. She has a big grin on her face.

"What about a goldfish, Lois?"

Ha! Are you trying to confuse me, buddy? You don't like us, and you're trying to convince us that it's your wife that doesn't like us? Not in a million years.

"I don't know…Andrew doesn't like goldfish, I think."

I'd like to meet this guy, Andrew, who doesn't like goldfish. Humans…who do they think they are?

"Honey, he wants a dog. And you said that you don't like dogs."

"Come on, Clark. A dog inside our house?"

"OK, we don't want a dog inside our house, nor a cat. Do we?"

"No, not a cat."

I keep liking this woman more and more. She doesn't like cats. Just like me. Well, this shop's cats are okay, but the others… I've heard cats eat fish, including goldfish.

"So, what about a goldfish? Nicole will love it."

And I think I will love Nicole.

"It's Andrew's birthday, not Nicole's."

"OK, let's not buy a goldfish."

"Oh, Clark, I'm confused."

"It's your choice."

"OK, let it be a goldfish."


"Are you sure?"

"Yes, yes."

"OK. Miss…?"

"Yes? Can I help you?" That's Therese.

"We'd like to buy a goldfish."

"Sure! Do you want to choose one?"

Oh, pleaaaaaaase, choose me! I'd like to stay with Lois. And I won't be paying any attention to Clark. Pleaaaaaaase?

"Oh, let me see!" This is Lois. She's looking into our bowl. Hey, hey, look at me! Look at me!

"This one looks very intelligent. It's swimming all around the bowl. Let's buy this one, Clark. It's fun. Tommy and Laura Ellen are going to get excited."

Tommy? Laura Ellen? More people who are going to like me! Yay!!

"OK, Lois. This one, please."

"Oh, you want 0049? OK!" She caught me with the net and put me in one of these beautiful bowls she puts the sold fishes in. It's cool. It has plastic seaweed, real shingles, even a small cave. Oh, yes, it's cool here.

"You know each fish's name? Well, number?" Lois is asking Therese. Silly question, but, well, to the humans we all look identical.

"Yes. They all have something special. 0049, for example, has this black ring around its left eye. And it's rather active and restless!"

"OK, that's a good thing." Lois is smiling.

>=> >=> >=> >=> >=> >=>

So, here I am now. My bowl is put on a cabinet in the living room, beside various crystals — finally. Lois and Clark had hesitated between the coffee table, the bookcase, they even considered another room.

Oh, I forgot to mention that we're not just the three of us anymore. A few minutes ago, three more people arrived: Nicole, Andrew and Tommy. Lois also went upstairs and brought Laura Ellen. So there's seven of us now.

Nicole is a girl, eight or nine years old, I'd say. She has long, brown hair and her skin color is sort of tan. It's like her father's. In fact, she does look a lot like her father. I hope she doesn't share his racist opinions about fish.

Andrew is around seven years old, Tommy around five, and Laura Ellen is two. They all have light skin and black hair. They look much more like Lois.

"A goldfish?" Andrew grumbles.

"Don't you like it?" Lois asks him. I bet she already knows the answer.

"_Girls_ have goldfish. Boys have dogs."

"We can't have a dog, Andrew. A fish is much better."

"It's not."

"It is," Nicole interrupts him. "It doesn't need a great deal of care, and it's neither noisy nor gets hair all over everything."

Yep. That's me.

"You don't like dogs."

"No, I don't."

"When I grow up, I'll buy a dog and I'll have it bite you."

"You won't!"

"I will!"

"Kids, stop!" Lois interferes.

"I don't want this goldfish. This is _not_ my birthday present."

You unmannered, ungrateful little…thing!

"OK, it's not," Clark says. "You'll have another one. But your mother and I wanted this goldfish, so we bought it. If you don't like it, just don't look at it."

Your mother and I? Does this mean that Clark actually _wanted_ me to come here? I hope so. Pets and owners are bound to have good relations between them.

"OK. I want a baseball bat."

"OK, I'll buy you one."

"No, this is not a good idea." This is Nicole. She's turning to her father. "I thought you had forbidden him to play games like these! You said he can't control his super strength yet!"

Super strength?

"He'll just play with me, until he's ready to play with his friends."

"No!" This is Andrew. "I want to play with my friends, too!"

"Not yet. Want to race me upstairs?"


"No, wait!" Nicole says, loudly.

OUCH! What happened? I can't really tell. Clark and Andrew began running really, really, really fast. They were hardly visible. But it lasted less than three seconds, because then, Nicole shouted, and Clark stood still in the middle of the stairway, where he was. Andrew, instead, struck against the bookcase. He made a few shelves fall down, and the house shook. Weird, isn't it? I didn't know a human child could be so strong…

Now Lois and Clark are chuckling, Nicole is laughing loudly, Tommy is staring at Andrew, amazed, Laura Ellen isn't doing anything in particular and Andrew is sitting in front of the bookcase, rubbing his head with the palm of his hand.

"Are you all right?" Clark is asking Andrew, as he walks down the stairs.

"Yeah, I guess. It didn't really hurt."

"Nicole, what did you want?" Clark again.

"I just wanted to tell you to stay, so that we name the fish all together."

To name the fish? Right…they can't be calling me 0049.

"Name your stupid fish alone," Andrew says, getting up. This silly creature thinks that he can say anything he wants, just because he's bigger than me. I won't forget that, buddy.

"OK, I'll name it alone," Nicole says, bitterly. Nicole and Andrew having a quarrel is an interesting and entertaining show, believe me.

She turns to me. "I'll name it…Nelly."

Nelly? NO! I'm not female! Pleaaaaaaase, don't!

"Don't be stupid!" This is Andrew, as you probably can guess. "How do you know it's female?"

Well, I may not like Andrew — it's not my fault, he's the one who doesn't like me — but at least now I am _really_ grateful to him.

"Mommy, is it male or female?" Nicole turned to Lois.

"I don't know…Clark, did we ask the shop woman whether it's male or female?"

"No, we didn't," he says, holding Andrew tightly. He's pretending he's hugging him, but I think he thinks that, if he lets him go, he'll tear Nicole's hair.

"OK, so we have to find something neutral," Lois proposes.

At least that would be better than a female name.

"Let's name it Kay!" Nicole exclaims, after a few moments of silence. "It's both a guy name and a girl name. And it begins with "K", like Kent!"

What's this "Kent" thing? Whatever… At least Kay is a nice name. In fact, I think it suits me well.

"OK, so now that this stupid fish is named, I'm going upstairs." Andrew leaves his father's arms and goes upstairs, walking nervously.

"Ha!" Nicole mutters.

>=> >=> >=> >=> >=> >=>

It's afternoon. I'm not alone. Nicole is in the room with me. She seems to be rather annoyed. She paces around the room, picks a book from the library, then decides she doesn't want to read it and puts it back. She stares at me for a while, then turns to the window — although the curtains are closed — sighs and snorts. Plus, her eyes are sparkling, and she's having a hard time keeping her mouth shut — I can tell by the expression on her face.

After several minutes of this, Lois comes out of the kitchen, holding a kitchen towel and drying her hands.

"Honey, what's up?" she asks her, worried. "You've been wandering around the room for more than twenty minutes. Are you okay?"

"No, I'm not," Nicole grumbles. And then, she explodes. "Andrew is using superpowers again!"

Hmm…there go these superpowers again. It's strange… As far as I've know, the only superman on this planet is Superman.

"OK, OK, let's see." She goes towards her, holds her and draws her towards the sofa. They sit next to each other. "So, what did Andrew do now?"

"He's cheating! We were playing cards, and he kept looking at my cards! We can't play like this!"

"Honey…" Lois hugs her daughter and tries to comfort her. "Andrew is just a kid yet, like you are. And he likes to use his powers."

"I don't _want_ him to use his powers! It's not fair! Only the boys have powers!"

The boys? Hmm… So Tommy must have superpowers, too.

Everything's going well. I've been in this house only a few hours, and I've already begun to learn many things about my owners. Still, they'll never know anything more about me. Ha!

"I know, honey. But…" Lois doesn't know what to say. Really, what could she say? I understand Nicole. It's not fair if your brothers have superpowers and you don't.

"…think that there's something positive about it. You are normal. They aren't." Lois goes on.

Good point. "I hate being normal," Nicole grumbles. "Everyone's normal. There's nothing special about me. I don't even have a second name."

"Honey, you _do_ have a second name," Lois says, puzzled.

"Nobody calls me Martha Nicole," she objects. "And I don't like the name Martha anyway. Laura Ellen has a much prettier name. And she has _your_ middle name, too."

Hmm…this girl is definitely jealous. In fact, all kids tend to be jealous of their siblings. The elder ones because the younger ones take away from them a part of the love and care of the parents, and the younger ones because they feel "small", "little", in comparison with the elder ones. But they all need their excuses to be jealous of their siblings, and Nicole — Martha Nicole Kent — has already found hers: she's jealous of Andrew and Tommy because they have superpowers, and she's jealous of Laura Ellen because everyone calls her with both her names. Lame excuses, sure, but they work well.

See? I am a psychologist, too. I told you I'm smart. I hope Lois is also smart — at least, smart enough to figure it out soon.

"Hey, wait a second!" Lois says, teasingly. "You are jealous of Laura Ellen!"

She figured it out. She's brilliant. I'm proud of her.

"No." Nicole denies the accusation. Still, to me, this sounded more like a "yes".

"Nicole…" Lois says, warningly. I can't see her face, as she's turned her back to me, but I'm sure she's grinning.

Nicole turns her head to Lois. "OK, I am. So, what?" she says, in a matter- of-fact tone.

"Nothing." Lois seems to be pleased with herself.

Nicole kicks the coffee table in front of her. "I don't _want_ to be normal!"

"You're not normal!" Lois hugs her tightly. "You're very special to me. In addition," by her voice I guess she thinks she's found the most intelligent thing to say, "you're Superman's daughter. Isn't this very special?"

WHAT? She's Superman's daughter?! Not Clark Kent's! Aha… So Lois can be mean to her hubby. I don't know if I approve of that, but maybe he deserved it. I was right not to like him, after all, wasn't I? If his wife doesn't even like him. And the boys must be Superman's sons too, since they have superpowers. But…hey, wait a second. Clark _knows_. He knows that his sons have superpowers. Isn't he troubled about this? But…on the other hand, he has superpowers, too. How is that possible? Weird family…

>=> >=> >=> >=> >=> >=>

I'm so embarrassed. I'm so ashamed. I feel so silly and stupid. It can't be happening to me! I'm _never_ wrong, and I _always_ make the right guesses! How could I not understand this, from the first moment I saw him?

Yet, it's true. Clark Kent is Superman. I saw him with my very own eyes. They were all watching TV, and suddenly the program they were watching was interrupted by a news-flash, talking about an explosion in a big factory in Washington. He said "Sorry, I'll be right back", he spun — I've never seen such a spinning before — and…he became Superman! I should've known. How could I let him humiliate me like this? I don't think he did it on purpose…or did he? Nah! Even Superman isn't that smart. I know he can't read minds, especially a fish's mind…no way he could!

>=> >=> >=> >=> >=> >=>

I've been here for more than a month, and everything is going fine. My relationship with everyone is getting better and better. Except for Andrew, who keeps looking at me as if I'm a piece of garbage. I can stand it, though. He's just a kid — he'll grow up, and get mature. At least, I hope so.

Clark Kent is now being good to me, however. He's the one who feeds me, changes my water and generally seems to like me and care about me. Sometimes, while he's doing these things, he tells me funny stories — especially about Lois. Now I'm having a good time with him. I guess he wants to make up for that horrible thing he said that day. Well, he's forgiven. I have lots of fun with him.

About a week ago, for example, he told me something that happened while he and Lois had gone out to investigate a source. It was late at night, and Lois was terribly tired and sleepy. However, she insisted on going with Clark. Well, she fell asleep on their way to the source. Clark left her in the car, locked all the doors, and went to the source. One minute later, she woke up, realized what had happened, and got mad with Clark. She went out to find him, but she had no keys to lock the car with, so, when she was left, someone stole it. She found Clark, who had just finished with the source, yelled, screamed, shouted and gave him a few punches, and then they walked back to where the car should be, but…it wasn't. So, Clark flew Lois home, and went out to find the car. Luckily, he found it. Still, while he was telling me — and the kids, who had come to listen — I was laughing like crazy. And just think that this kind of things happen to them every day.

>=> >=> >=> >=> >=> >=>

Lois, now…she is definitely jealous of me. You see, she works very hard and for many hours. Although, Perry, the editor of the newspaper she works for, has allowed her to work from and send him her articles via e-mail, she still has to do a lot of research and investigation to be able to write her famous articles, thanks to which she is considered "the best investigative reporter in the world" — along with Clark, of course.

Oh, yes. So, every time she comes back home exhausted, after hours of work, or she has to leave early in the morning, or generally before or after a long day, she comes to me, stares at me for a while, and then says: "Oh, Kay, you don't know how lucky you are. You spend every day on vacation, swimming in your bowl or resting in your cave. We feed you, we change your water…you are completely free to relax. I wish I was in your position. But no, I have to take care of one husband and four children, to write, to investigate, and now I'm coming out at (whatever time it is), to (whatever it is she has to do)!"

She's always repeating the same things. But deep inside, I know she loves her job, and couldn't live without it, even if she wishes she wasn't working. Not to mention, she's not really doing a lot inside the house. She rarely cooks, and almost never cleans the house, or irons the clothes, or tidies the children's rooms. These things are Clark's work.

In fact, it's _her_ work. But every single time, the same thing happens:

They are together, and suddenly she grumbles: "Oh, I have to (whatever it is she has to do)." And then Clark tells her: "Oh, don't worry, I'll do it. I can do it much faster."

He says he does it to save time. But I know he does it because she loves her, and he knows she doesn't like these jobs. On the other hand, he seems to enjoy them. Lois knows that, too. And she takes advantage of it. How could she not?

The truth is, it's obvious. Nobody can doubt it, if they spend even two minutes with Lois and Clark. He's mad about her. And she's mad about him, too. Even when they're quarrelling, you can tell how much they love each other. It's just obvious.

And Lois is lucky to have him. Not only does he adore her, but, being Superman, he helps her with everything plus he does all the boring chores at home. Although he works as hard as she does — and even more, sometimes.

The ideal husband.

At least, if I was her, that's what I'd think.

>=> >=> >=> >=> >=> >=>

Nicole likes me, but doesn't spend a lot of time with me. There are two occasions when I mainly spend time with her: first, when she comes to watch her father, while he feeds me or changes my water. Secondly, when she's mad at someone. She likes to come and pace around the living room, thinking. She's still jealous of her siblings, but this is normal, as I've already told you. Apart from this, she's a good girl. Sometimes when she's angry, she mutters, and I learn what happens — her parents don't understand her, Andrew irritates her, Laura Ellen is destroying her things. Lately, I hear very often about "this stupid boy, Dean. Who does he think he is? I'm going to kill him…" etc.. If you ask me, she's in love.

>=> >=> >=> >=> >=> >=>

Another person I spend a lot of time with is Laura Ellen. She likes to sit on the coffee table and watch me for hours, smiling, grinning and laughing. No, no, she's _not_ making fun of me, I assure you! It's just that I'm too fascinating, beautiful, charming, wonderful…you know.

>=> >=> >=> >=> >=> >=>

However, my favorite person in this house is Tommy. He comes and pulls out a chair in front of my bowl, and begins to talk to me. He trusts me very much. He tells me all of his problems and worries.

He came to see me yesterday evening, too. Poor boy… he's been being through a lot in the kindergarten. His father has told him not to hit the other kids, because he's too strong and may hurt them badly. But there are two really naughty boys, Victor and Randy, who like hitting the other children. They like to hit him, too. And he never complains, because they don't hurt him. But they take advantage of it, and, as he doesn't want to say anything to his teacher or his parents about it, they keep hitting him.

Still, he's hurt inside by this. The other kids think he's a coward, and don't want him as a friend. They never play with him — except for Carlos, another boy the other kids don't like, because he's from Puerto Rico and doesn't speak very good English. He is his only friend.

"Don't worry," I told him, when I saw he was depressed. "Sometime they'll find out you're a good boy, and that you're just being good, when you tell nothing about Victor and Randy. And perhaps they'll become your friends then. But, if they don't, there's no reason to worry about it. They don't know what they're missing. After all, you've got Carlos."

"I know I shouldn't worry," he said, after I was finished. "Sometime they'll find out that I just don't want Victor and Randy to be punished, and that's why I tell nothing about them. And, when they will, they may become my friends. But if they don't, I really don't care. After all, I've got Carlos."

At least this boy knows the meaning of positive thinking.

And he's such a good and nice kid. He's loving, caring, helpful…his parents are lucky to have such a child. Do you know what he did this morning?

It's Sunday, so he didn't go to the kindergarten. I was here, in my bowl, feeling very bad. I was alone, and I was feeling lonely. Everyone was in their room, watching TV, studying, listening to music or even sleeping, and I was here, with not even one fish to talk to. I was bored, and I didn't know what to do.

I was cursing my fate, and complaining, when Tommy came down the stairs. He was heading to the kitchen, probably hungry or thirsty. I hoped he had some time to spend with me.

He came towards me, and asked me: "You're feeling lonely, aren't you? Lonely and bored. No other fish here, not even a human to stay with you for a while. Well, you're lucky, because I have nothing to do. I'm going to the kitchen to drink a bottle of milk, and I'm coming back here so that we have a chat, OK?"

I said: "Yes!!"

And he said: "I knew you'd like the idea. I'll be right back."

Indeed, he was back just one minute later.

Sometimes I think that this boy can really understand me…