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The Spot Writers – “Go Fish” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. August’s prompt is to use these five words in a story or poem: besides, fishes, inn, owing, born.

This week’s story comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Cathy’s novel, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama, is available from her locally or on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/

MISTER WOLFE (the sequel) coming soon!

***

“Go Fish” by Cathy MacKenzie

Amber looked up toward the large blue-shingled house, which was so unfamiliar to her. What little they’d moved into the house two days previous was in disarray. The bulk of their furniture and other possessions weren’t due to be delivered for another week. Until then, the family would sleep at the Riverside Inn and spend days at the house.

According to her mother, there was plenty to do at the new house. “Dad has to mow the lawn, and I have to clean,” she’d said. “You kids can organize your rooms.” She had smiled. “And play, too. Summer will soon be over.”

Right, Amber thought. Organize our rooms? What is there to organize?

She was thankful she didn’t have to deal with school the same time as the move. But Labour Day would soon be upon them, marking the end of summer vacation. Luckily, her parents had bought a house in the same neighbourhood, so she and her brother, Julien, would still be attending the same schools.

Her mother couldn’t understand why it had to take so long for their furniture to be packed up and delivered. “Spencer, why don’t we rent a truck and move ourselves? This is ridiculous,” she had spouted. “We’re less than ten blocks away, for Pete’s sake.”

Apparently, the end of July was the busiest time for movers in their area, and Amber’s father wouldn’t admit he had procrastinated calling the moving company. She knew he had messed up when she overheard him arguing on the telephone with the company. She was glad he’d apologized or they might never have gotten a moving date.

Amber liked their new house, which was much larger than their previous one. The grounds were more spacious, too. Numerous colourful flowers grew alongside the house, mostly all foreign to her, although she did recognize the daisies.

And, of course, she was familiar with rose bushes that bordered one side of the fish pond.

But what good was a fish pond without fish?

“I can’t believe there’s no fish,” she said, glancing at her brother.

“Yeah, according to Dad, the previous owner said they died.”

“I don’t know why we can’t get more.”

Julien sighed. “Mom can’t be bothered. She figures Dad won’t help out and then it’ll all fall on her. In the spring she said we can get some. She hates the thought of them in the cold all winter. You know her.”

“But goldfish are supposed to survive over the winter. Though I don’t know how.”

“You’re supposed to make sure there’s a hole in the ice so the fish can breathe while they hibernate.”

“If they hibernate, why do they need a hole in the ice?”

Julien glared at her. “I don’t know. Just what I’ve read.”

“Dad says you read too much.”

“Yeah, well Mom says you daydream too much.”

She ignored him and stared into the pond. She shook the unopened container of fish food, which she had grabbed off the shelf in the garage.

“I’m going to sprinkle some food on the water. Maybe if the other people had fed them, they’d still be alive.”

“No sense feeding dead fish,” Julien said.

Ignoring her brother, she unscrewed the lid and sprinkled flakes on the water.

“It’s probably old. That’s why they left it,” Julien said. “Outdated. Not good for anything. And you know what? If the owners said they hadn’t fed the fish for two years, it’s probably more like five. Everyone lies.”

The flakes floated together for a few seconds and slowly separated.

“The poor dead fishes,” Amber said, swiping at her eyes with her left hand. She’d been teary lately, which was unusual for her, probably owing to the stress of the move. She was only twelve, but her hormones would be raging sooner than later. And more tears, she figured.

She shrieked. “Look! What’s that?”

“What’s what?”

“There.” She pointed. “Isn’t that a fish?”

While she watched, another bright orange fish swam alongside.

Another appeared.

And a fourth.

The last two were a paler orange. Almost translucent.

“I don’t believe it,” Julien said. “They can’t have survived for this long.”

“Look, they’re jumping at the food. We have to go tell Mom.”

“No, we can’t tell her. She’s got enough on her mind. Besides, if you tell her, she’ll freak about them all winter long.”

“What, then? We don’t tell anyone they’re here?”

“We’ll just come down and feed them every day. Then, over the winter, we’ll make sure there’s a hole in the ice. We can surprise Mom in the spring, once the snow is gone.”

“Mom wasn’t born yesterday. Don’t you think she’ll find out?”

“How will she find out? Besides, once she knows these fish survived, she’ll be more receptive to getting more.”

“What about Dad? Should we tell him?”

“No, Dad’ll only tell Mom. They don’t have secrets, remember.”

“Yeah, right.” She’d heard her parents talk enough about how marriages shouldn’t have secrets, no matter how small. She giggled. Her father hadn’t shared the moving van story. “Okay, it’s our secret? No one else’s?”

“Yep, it’s our secret.”

“Oh, I love secrets,” Amber said, already anticipating telling her mother. She might even tell her the moving van secret.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.ca/

+++
C.A. MacKenzie is the author of the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers, including Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/.

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The Spot Writers – “The Quantum Life of Mr. Bubbles” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s theme is “a death in the family.” Today’s tale comes to you from Val Muller, author of the young adult novel The Scarred Letter, a novel about confronting the truth in a world that lives a lie.

***

The Quantum Life of Mr. Bubbles by Val Muller

Her large eyes popped open as she examined the fish. “Daddy, Mr. Bubbles looks thinner today.” She scrunched her nose and eyed me askance.

I tried not to miss a beat. “You think he went on a diet?”

“Not that kind of thinner. A different-fish-thinner.”

“Hmmmm.” I pretended to read the nutrition information on the cereal box, but she wouldn’t drop it.

“And his tail is darker.”

“Hmmmm.”

“Daddy, what happened to the real Mr. Bubbles?”

Nothing escapes a five-year-old. She pulled herself into the seat next to mine. What could I tell her? That Mr. Bubbles was floating his way toward the city’s sewage treatment plant? That her daddy had driven across the county to find the only aquarium open at 6 a.m.? That he’d been waiting when the store opened to purchase the fish that looked the closest to Mr. Bubbles?

When I looked up from my cereal box, she was standing up on her chair, eyes cross and hands on her hips. “Tell me the truth. What happened to the real Mr. Bubbles?”

So I took a deep breath and said what any father would say. “Mr. Bubbles was a very curious fish, and he went exploring in the furthest corners of his fish tank until one day, he saw a strange glow. You know what it was?” I looked up, stalling for time.

“The lamp?” She raised a little eyebrow.

“No,” I said, channeling high school physicals and sci-fi and late-night philosophical discussions from college. “It was a wormhole. A gateway to another universe.”

“What?” She looked again at the fish. Then she slid down in her chair.

“You know: quantum physics.”

“Won ton physics?”

I shrugged. “Sure. It’s the idea that there are all kinds of different worlds out there, each one just a tiny it different from the last. So in this universe, I look like me. But in another one, I might have a beard.”

She smiled at the idea.

“And so Mr. Bubbles went through the wormhole and found himself in a very similar universe. He found himself in a very similar house occupied by a very similar goldfish.”

“And is there a ‘me’ in this other universe?” she asked.

I nodded, glad she was buying in. “Only, the other you has curly hair and likes artichokes.”

She scrunched her nose. “Ewww!”

I smiled. “And Mr. Bubbles met the fish that looks almost like him. And they had a fishy conversation and decided to send the new fish here to live with you. And Mr. Bubbles is going to stay in the new universe. You know, to check things out.”

Her eyes moved from me to the tank and back again.

“Honey, do you understand?”

She studied my eyes, then nodded. “I do, daddy. But it’s okay. It doesn’t take won-ton physics to know that Mr. Bubbles went to Heaven. You don’t have to be sad about it or make up stories for me. It’ll happen to all fish someday. Then she gave me a hug, grabbed the box of cereal, and made her way to the couch.

A moment later, the chirping of cartoons filled the room, and I watched Mr. Bubble’s doppelganger swim from one side of the tank to the next, oblivious to the fate of his predecessor or the complexities of won-ton physics.

***

The Spot Writers—our members:

RC Bonitz: rcbonitz.com

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Tom Robson: https://robsonswritings.wordpress.com/

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