Hidden at the side of the house, under a peeling arbutus tree, was an oval, moss-ringed, cement goldfish pond. In the plush winters on Vancouver Island the pond seldom froze. If it did, and I remembered, I chipped away the thin skin so the fish would live. Thinking of them frozen in the dark, suspended – dead – worried me. I say them. I don’t know how many there were – at least two. One was as big as my thumb.
In the summer, two lily pads covered the surface and when they bloomed the pond disappeared beneath the flowers and the leaf-pad rafts. It looked like a calico patch on a green velvet gown.
The pond was perfect for Barbie. She dove in, rode the magic carpet leaves, keeping her feet on the pad so the fish that looked like an orange jube-jube wouldn’t bite her toes. Then Barbie and I lay in the sun, reading The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, listening to the radio, and waiting for a car to drive by the main street of our village.
The water was black-black. Barbie and I were afraid of the pond. I was afraid I would fall into it like a dead body into nothing. Down, down, down, forever. Then a fish would peek through the leaves, an orange spotlight on the obsidian surface, his mouth opening and closing, barely moving the water. He said, “Come on in, the water’s fine”. We didn’t believe him, especially when we leaned over and he slipped away, winking neon orange, a warning sign. We knew. It was pretty. Dangerous.
(This is a memory of playing Barbies by a fish pond in a childhood home. I took it and turned it into micro fiction which you can read here. I think I posted it to YeahWrite but these link up things don`t always work. No matter. It was another fun exercise in the elasticity of writing – although this was more of a shrunken-mohair-sweater-in-a-dryer story.)