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Jewfish (Part 6) by Naomi Alderman

Read the previous part here. 

 

The Jewfish is delivered at the start of the following week. He arranges in advance to take the day off work. A crowd gathers to watch as the fish is unloaded from the truck and maneuvered into the building. Among the crowd, he recognizes several of the men from the angling store. In the light, the fish is even more beautiful than he remembers. Its scales appear crisp, as though water had just ceased to flow off them, its mouth shades from dark pink at the front to deep red toward the interior. As the fish is lifted from the truck, it seems to shiver and gasp. Across the street, passers-by stand still – an elderly woman, a nanny with two small children, a man in a suit with his jacket over his shoulder and sleeves rolled up – watching its progress into the apartment building.

 

In the dark interior of his apartment, he finds that the fish, though less magnificent, seems more at home. He has learned that Jewfish enjoy small enclosed spaces more than the empty regions of the sea. They often lurk in wrecks, or in underwater caves. He has arranged for the Jewfish to be suspended from the ceiling in the center of his living room. The workmen complain about the boxes and files; he tries to explain their importance but realizes that this is impossible.

 

In the evening, when the workmen have gone, he is alone with the fish. It is suspended at head height. When he stands, he can look into its face. If he raises his hand he can caress the fin which runs along its spine. He reads through the newspaper carefully, before the unblinking eye of the fish. The newspaper contains nothing important. He feels that he can detect a slight odor of the sea in the room. He discovers that he can set the fish swaying from side to side, by swinging it by its tethers. He finds that he likes to set it moving like this, then go to the door of the living room and turn off the light. When he looks back into the room, the fish is still swimming, silently, through the dark air.

 

To be continued…

 

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