Do you ever feel, I say, like we’re, I dunno, two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year? And there it is: The Glint. The widening of the eyes and the direct stare as she re-evaluates me and her lips pucker up. I lunge and I don’t use that word lightly. The rest of it was all a dance leading up to me saying something of interest, anything at all so she doesn’t feel so shallow about kissing some guy solely for the good looks he inherited from his mother. I don’t tell her this or that I stole the line. She doesn’t look the sort to have a decent taste in music so I guess I’m safe quoting Wish You Were Here. She’s up at the college studying Marine Biology and I’m getting through the date bluffing an interest in Bloaters, Slimeheads and Spotcheck Stargazers. We have my mate Greg in common who gave me the tipoff to google and wiki all things fishy. It’ll all come down to the strength of the net.
We unhook tongues and I head to the bar, three more drinks I reckon then back to mine. What do you think about the Japanese Rice Fish, I say as I try now with larger bait and she laughs and I think the beer has made me misjudge things and ruin all my hard work, or is she finding it endearing? Do you have strong opinions on the Japanese Rice Fish? she says. I read a thing about them being, you know, up there, I say and I point my index finger upwards. I’m hoping subconsciously she notices the length of my finger and the assured drive of it, more interested am I in the workings of the mind. Last week I read Freud and Jung quotes for a girl who’s up at the college studying Psychology. That one saw through me after five minutes which I should’ve anticipated but didn’t. Up there? she says. On the roof? In the Space Station, I say. They’re seeing what it does to their bones. Fish guinea pigs. Oh, she says and she takes out her phone. She’s getting away, time for something drastic, and I say the one honest statement of the night. When all else fails reach in desperation for honesty. My great-grandfather used to splice fossils together to make strange new creatures and sell them to scientists all over the world. Her eyes widen again with the direct stare though The Glint is missing, where is it? I search for another hook. Seriously, I say, we have a lot of his stuff in the family. He made a fortune, died at ninety, got away with it. He was an artist, a hero. She shoves on her coat and gives me a lecture about ethics and I realise I can’t match the fight in her and I let her go.
But it’s raining outside and we end up going back to mine anyway.