Friday Fish

I had written three or four stories regarding a character I wanted to write about named Big Jim. And it seemed like the harder I tried, the more the stories I wrote about Big Jim sucked.

So I switched gears and wrote about Eileen. You know Eileen. She’s over eighty and not afraid to speak her mind. And she drives like an old lady. Okay, that’s a tired line.

Here’s a short (540 words) slice of Eileen’s life—and no, there is no cutlery involved…

   Karmic influences wreaked havoc on Eileen’s life that day at the fish market. She had stopped at Harpy’s for a cod filet and got to talking to Sandra Mason about Sandra’s daughter’s pregnancy. She was to have twins—that much she was sure of. But she didn’t want to know the sex of her children, opting instead for the magic of surprise.

Eileen told her that, “With all the conveniences that modern medicine allows us nowadays, you’d think everyone would want to know ahead of time for the sake of planning. There is nothing to be gained in not knowing.”

Eileen was a pragmatic woman and a grandmother several times over. She had had a life of surprises and didn’t expect any more. She paid for her filet and left.

Walking out to her car, she was in a distracted aura of reminiscing about having her own children. Back then there was no such thing as ultrasound equipment. You just took what you got.

Her oldest, Stephen, was the hardest. She was in labor for nine hours of utter torture. He was a big guy at birth, weighing in at ten pounds three ounces and he had a full head of hair. Too bad he didn’t get to keep it all past forty.

Stopping at the wrong car, she pressed the button on her key fob and the car behind her chirped in reply. Eileen chuckled to herself, grateful that no else had seen the error. As she walked around to the driver’s door, she remembered Lisa’s birth. Lisa, her second child, came out like she had been greased and weighed in at eight and a half pounds even. There was a full minute of silence in the delivery room before Lisa began to cry. Lisa turned out to be the quiet thinker.

Eileen got into her car and closed the door. She placed her purse on the passenger’s seat along with her fish. As she put the key in the ignition, she thought about her baby. Kevin didn’t like to be called her baby. Not only was he the youngest, he was also the smallest at seven pounds two ounces. He was born a little premature. But he made up for it with the loudest delivery room wail of all.

Starting the car, Eileen figured she had had a pretty full life, a satisfying life. She gave a quick glance around, stepped on the brake, shifted into reverse, slipped her foot off the brake and onto the accelerator accidentally and was away, tires chirping on the asphalt.

Her car darted backward across the lot, gaining speed onto the pier, between two supports, and out into the late afternoon breeze coming in off the water.

Eileen watched in horror as the view of the pier receded, her hand still on the shift lever. She removed her foot from the accelerator and stepped on the brake again just as she plunged into the water with a rush of sound.

 The car bobbed to the surface and began to slowly sink. Eileen’s eyes darted all about and she thought that this was the biggest surprise of her life.

This surprise was bigger than life.

She just hoped someone had seen her mistake.


14 thoughts on “Friday Fish

  1. alisonwells

    I like the way you show this character through her rememberances, nice sympathy to the piece. Wasn’t expecting the ending though.

  2. Deanna Schrayer

    Oh no, poor Eileen! I hope someone saw her mistake too, though I suspect they didn’t, considering her “life was flashing before her eyes”.
    Interesting that this is the fourth story I’ve read today (if you include my own) that has something to do with birth.

    Great work Donald!

  3. Maria Kelly

    Funny, our group project for Ethics class two terms ago was “Mandatory Yearly Re-testing for Senior Drivers.” One of our group dressed up like Maxine and we had a hoot. This story brought that back and made me chuckle. Hope she gets out of the water, though. I’d like to see her, again. 🙂

  4. Marisa Birns

    Just great how you had her wishing no one saw her first mistake, and then wishing someone had seen her second. Such lovely symmetry.

    And the fish was returning home!

  5. Noemi Weatherington

    Hi, Neat post. There is a problem with your website in internet explorer, would check this… IE still is the market leader and a big portion of people will miss your great writing because of this problem.


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