The Silver Fish by Lucy Reinhard

I'm trying to remember last night's dream. It surfaces for a moment in my mind like a silver fish drifting towards the top of a stream. The water is silver too, reflecting the clouded sky. The fish is hardly noticed as she floats upwards; only the light glinting off her scales makes her presence known to passersby.

I pass by this almost-actualized memory of last night's dream and run when I hear a rustle in the wilting bushes. It's wintertime. Everything crawling beneath the ground and burrowing inside tree trunks... what could that rustle have been? Nothing good.

As I run, my bare feet step on thorns. When each of my ten toes has at least one pine needle stuck up their calluses, I stop running, for their pinch feels particularly pinching. The moment I stop, I look behind me and there is a large white bird. This bird is a crane and she is a dignified lady. "Hello, Mizz," I say, daring not to assume her marital status.

She looks at me with conscious eyes, more intelligent than any human eyes I've met. Her eyes are not wide. She knows that opening them wider will not increase her understanding. The lady is well aware that understanding is more than a simple sight.

The white stork shakes her head, an almost undetectable twitch, but somehow I know she is asking me: what are you doing here? As if to say: I see right through your bullshit, buddy.

"I, uh, I'm trying to remember last night's dream," I tell her.

The lady tilts her head to the left and then to the right: You're walking upstream when you ought to be swimming down it.

Before I have the time to think twice, I take off all my clothes, wincing at the cold air prodding my pores like hundreds of curious fingers. I suck in a breath and hold it, imagining that the breath I inhale is a cherry tomato and my lungs are two pink hands gently cradling my tomato breath. I dive in.

The cold of the water is not at all like the cold of the air. It asks no questions. It is utter clarity, caressing my skin fluidly, in sync with heartbeat rhythm. Together, the cold river water and I rush downstream, a single, comprehensive entity in search of our fair lady, the silver fish.

The memory of last night's dream: I picture her at the opposite end of a crowded ballroom. I try to catch her roaming eyes. They prance around the room, ogling this spectacle of white gloves and tiny glasses of pink champagne. The attempt to make eye contact is nearly impossible. But I do, and the moment is like ice, like the color of this rushing water that has become me in the meantime.

And so we are shrouded in it.

 

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