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About the Existence of Being a Fish – Mercury-Marvin Sunderland

Jan 2, 2022 | Fiction | 0 comments

ROSY (a woman dressed in shiny silver and red clothing)
ROSY2 (another woman, nearly identical to Rosy, except with less red)

[Lights go on. They fill the stage with blue light. ROSY and ROSY2 are standing there. They are looking at something in the distance.]

ROSY: What is she doing?
ROSY2: That looks like a…I don’t know what that is.
ROSY: That’s a chainsaw.
ROSY2: A what?
ROSY: A chainsaw.
ROSY2: What’s that?
ROSY: It’s a bladed electric thing that humans use.


ROSY2: Oh.
ROSY: What?
ROSY2: Do you not see what she’s bringing to us?
ROSY: Why is she bringing the chainsaw?
ROSY2: I think she wants to kill us.


ROSY: Are you serious?
ROSY2: Yeah.
ROSY: But—we’ve lived in this tank for her—for—like—five years—why would she want us dead?
ROSY2: I think she’s bored of us.
ROSY: Bored? BORED?! Why would she get bored of us?!
ROSY2: Because we’re boring.
ROSY: We’re not—
ROSY2: C’mon, Rosy, she’s twenty years old, it was bound to happen. I mean, c’mon. No one likes having a fish as a pet anymore. We’re boring. We’re boring pets. All we ever do is swim in our own piss and eat food while surrounded by decorations. We are living decorations. Of course, she’d get tired of us by now.
ROSY: But—
ROSY2: Rosy, she didn’t even give us proper names. Yours is Rosy, and I’m—
ROSY: Rosy2.


ROSY: I don’t want to die.
ROSY2: I do.

ROSY looks at her very strangely.

ROSY: Why do you want to die?
ROSY2: Because life is pointless.
ROSY: Life isn’t pointless.
ROSY2: Yes it is. Especially if you happen to be a fish.
ROSY: And what. . . Makes you say that?
ROSY2: Just look at the world out there.
ROSY: I don’t understand.
ROSY2: Exactly. There isn’t much of the world out there that we as fish ever get to see.
ROSY: But I said that I didn’t understand.
ROSY2: And that’s my point. We are such miniscule, insignificant beings that our understanding of the world is just as miniscule and insignificant as we are. We eat the flakes that are sprinkled to us, we shit and piss in our own water, we live in that water, sometimes we’re taken out of the tank for it to be cleaned, we vaguely watch whoever our owner is do their own personal business, maybe we might breed or get accompanied by newer fish that the owner buys, but that is all that our lives are ever a thing to become, over and over and over again, and death comes and our pointless lives end. That’s all we are.


ROSY: . . . That’s not all that our lives are.


ROSY2: Then, aside from that, what are they?
ROSY: They’re- they’re-

She sighs.

You’re right. Although I really don’t want you to be.
ROSY2: (Smirks) Good to know that we’re on the same page here.
ROSY: But there has to be more than that.
ROSY2: But there isn’t.
ROSY: Where are you getting these ideas?
ROSY2: Ideas?
ROSY: You know. Ideas. About life and death. About the existence of being a fish.
ROSY2: From life itself.
ROSY: You haven’t been getting them from anyone else?
ROSY2: Rosy, what do you think the answer to that question is? The only other fish I’ve lived with is you. And you sure haven’t been doing that kind of stuff.
ROSY: No, I definitely haven’t been saying these things like you have. Or anything remotely close to it, for that matter.


ROSY2: So?
ROSY: How have you been getting this from life itself?
ROSY2: Is that even a question?
ROSY: Yes.
ROSY2: I mean, I am getting this stuff from life. I am. But the way I’ve been getting it is through thinking and observing. That’s how I sort of understand what you’re talking about.
ROSY: . . . Okay. I guess that’s fair enough.


ROSY2: Man, she is really hesitating with that chainsaw.
ROSY: What, do you want her to hurry up?

ROSY2 laughs.

ROSY2: Oh, what a childish thought. No. Not that. In fact, quite the opposite.
ROSY: But I thought you wanted to die.
ROSY2: I do want to die.
ROSY: Then. . . ?
ROSY2: I want to feel the brisk comforts of before death begins. I would like to cherish that before I meet my own inevitable end.

ROSY stares at her, worried.

ROSY: Are you okay?

ROSY2 smiles.

ROSY2: I’m never okay.

She closes her eyes. She opens them. She calmly looks upward.

I’m ready for death.

The lights go out. A whirring noise sounds. Then a buzzing. Then a ding. The lights go on, except this time, they’re yellow, instead of blue. The two of them are the same way as they were when the play started.

Oh, how curious.
ROSY: Are we. . . Getting shocked?
ROSY2: That seems to be it. Chainsaws are electric, it makes perfect sense that we would be getting electrocuted right now.
ROSY: You’re taking this awfully calm.
ROSY2: I’m just containing my excitement. Mind you, that isn’t really the easiest thing in the world for me to be doing.
ROSY: We’re dying.
ROSY2: And I’m containing my excitement.
ROSY: Why the hell does dying make you happy?
ROSY2: What is hell?

ROSY stares at her strangely. There’s a tone of fear to the look that she gives.

ROSY: Hell is- hell is- uh-


ROSY2: Well?
ROSY: Hell is-


ROSY2: You appear to be not understanding what it is. I guess I will have to be one to explain that to you.
ROSY2: Hell is silence.

ROSY looks at her strangely again.

ROSY: What?
ROSY2: Hell is silence.
ROSY: That’s not what hell is. Hell is-
ROSY2: Hell is silence. Hell is a supposedly fiery place where the humans go if they believe in the Christian god and have not worshipped him properly and have died. But we are not going to hell. We will never reach that place.


ROSY: What?
ROSY2: We will never be in hell, Rosy. Isn’t that something to rejoice? We will never have to deal with fire and torture in our death because we aren’t humans and we aren’t Christians. We might still face a fiery demise. Just not in the way that hell does it.
ROSY: But how is that silence?

ROSY2 laughs.

ROSY2: What a childish question. Hell is silence. Hell is that way, because we will never be able to achieve it. We are not put to the regard that the humans do, because we do not put ourselves to that regard. Unlike the humans, we fish have learned to accept that we are not important, that we are mere specks of nothing in a whole lot of other stuff that is merely nothing. But the humans have not accepted that. And that is why they go to silly places such as hell.

She coughs.

That’s just how it is. That’s just how we are. Death is something that I have learned to accept and look forward to. And now it is happening, and now all I can do is relish the feeling of it, because this is great. This is what I’ve been waiting for, this is what the foolish may call feeling alive. But rather, that zest is feeling the sweet pressure of death on it’s way.

ROSY slowly moves away. She is very creeped out. ROSY2 notices. She moves her head to look at her, keeping the rest of her body absolutely still. ROSY stops dead in her tracks. She stares at her in absolute fear.

ROSY: Yes?
ROSY2: Why are you leaving?

ROSY hesitates.

ROSY: Yes?
ROSY2: Can you answer my question?

ROSY hesitates again

Why are you leaving?
ROSY: You’re scaring me.

ROSY2 chuckles.

ROSY2: But you cannot leave.
ROSY: And what makes you say that?
ROSY2: We’re in a fishbowl, you fool.
ROSY: Why do you think that insulting me is the right way to get me to stay? To get me to listen to the bullshit that comes from your mouth?
ROSY2: Neither of us have ever even seen bulls.
ROSY: … What?
ROSY2: We are fish. We have never seen bulls in our entire lives. Yet you say that you are one to say that the words that spout out from my mouth are equivalent to the waste that they create.
ROSY: … It’s an expression.
ROSY2: Or is it? What is to say that anything is an expression? What is to say that maybe everything that we think of as a truth of nature is merely nothing but a lie?
ROSY: You’re scaring me.


ROSY2: What does that mean?
ROSY2: You’re really going to have to be more specific than this.
ROSY: You want to know what I mean?
ROSY2: Of course I do.
ROSY: The escape is on the left.


ROSY2: The what?
ROSY: The left.
ROSY2: What do you mean?
ROSY: The left.
ROSY2: What left.

ROSY points right. She doesn’t put down her arm even when she starts speaking.

ROSY: There.
ROSY2: That’s the right.


That’s the left.
ROSY2: But that’s the right.
ROSY: But this is the left.
ROSY2: But that’s not the left.
ROSY: I don’t think you understand.
ROSY2: You’re right. I don’t understand.
ROSY: I don’t mean left as in the direction that humans made up.
ROSY2: Then, what do you mean?
ROSY: The escape.


ROSY2: (Finally getting it) Oh.

Lights go to black.

What’s suddenly made things switch around?

Lights go to yellow.

What’s suddenly happened with you?

Lights go to black.

Is it the electricity shocking our brains as we fry to death?

Lights go to yellow.

As I welcome death and you are afraid?

Lights go to black.

ROSY: Maybe that’s how it is.

Lights go off. You can hear a soft, dropping sound, a sizzling of water. The buzzing sound is over. There is silence for a while. And then the lights go on. This time, they’re blood-red. ROSY and ROSY2 are down on the ground, face-up. It is still very silent for a while.

ROSY: (Terrified) Rosy2?
ROSY2: (Calm) Yes?
ROSY: Are we dead?
ROSY2: I believe we are.

ROSY whimpers.

ROSY: I don’t like this.
ROSY2: Really? This is great. I love this.
ROSY: I don’t.


So, this is death.
ROSY2: Indeed.
ROSY: Now, what?
ROSY2: Huh?
ROSY: Now what do we do?
ROSY2: We wait.
ROSY: For what?
ROSY2: We wait for wherever death shall take us.
ROSY: But this is boring.
ROSY2: I don’t think death cares about that.
ROSY: But I do.
ROSY2: And death doesn’t care.


ROSY: You’re taking this awfully calm.
ROSY2: And that’s some sort of surprise to you?

ROSY rolls over, away from her.

ROSY: I expected nothing.
ROSY: I don’t get that.
ROSY2: And what part of that do you not get?
ROSY: You were the one talking about hell. Not me.


ROSY2: So?
ROSY: So, that makes me think that maybe you were expecting something.
ROSY2: I wasn’t.
ROSY: Then, why were you talking about hell?
ROSY2: Hell is a concept that humans have a concept of. I was merely commenting on that. That does not mean that I believed that we would go there. My mind was filled to the brim with ideas, but that does not mean that there was any expectation.
ROSY: And why is that?


ROSY2: Because, not once, in my entire existence, living with only you in this fishbowl and at Petco, reduced to merely listening to what the humans say, to get anywhere close to an idea of the world, have I had any exposure to an idea of where us fish go when we die.


I’ve had to go on my own ideas. Form them myself. With no guidance whatsoever. The human’s little ones speak of a so-called “fish heaven”, but that is it. And all I know of that place is the name. But it probably isn’t real.

Long silence. The lights darken a little.

ROSY: Rosy2?
ROSY2: Yes?
ROSY: You have no idea where we’re going?
ROSY2: It’s all guesses towards what happens next, friend.

Silence. The lights get even darker.


Long Silence.

ROSY: Yes?

Lights go off.
End of play.

Mercury-Marvin Sunderland (he/him) is a transgender autistic gay man with Borderline Personality Disorder. He’s from Seattle and currently attends the Evergreen State College. He’s been published by University of Amsterdam’s Writer’s Block, UC Davis’ Open Ceilings, UC Riverside’s Santa Ana River Review, UC Santa Barbara’s Spectrum, and The New School’s The Inquisitive Eater. His lifelong dream is to become the most banned author in human history. He’s @RomanGodMercury on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


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