Story: Diary of a Goldfish

By: Will Darlington

Goldfish

Day 1, 10.13 a.m.

Well, here I am.

Not quite sure where I am, or what I’m doing here, but I am here. There must be a reason for my being here but I do not precisely know, or remember what it is. (I have always had a terrible memory…I think. But I cannot be sure, since I do not remember being born…or anything that came after that, come to think of it. I don’t really know how old I am, or what I have experienced. I cannot be sure of anything reall…

Day 2, 10.16 a.m.

Well, here I am. Not quite sure where though. It is a strange place, wherever it is. I seem to be floating between two extremes, above and below. Above is a shimmering and blurry white light; below, I see sand, a few pebbles, and, protruding from the sand, a strand of green alga which seems unable to make up its mind as to which way to float. There is also a figure in a diving costume. He has unblinking square eyes, a tube projecting from his mouth, and flippers on his feet that resemble my fins. Neither the sand, nor the pebbles, nor the figure are moving. Only the strand of alga and myself are moving. I have noticed that when I stop agitating my fins, I sink. Maybe the sand, the pebbles and the figure sank to the bottom because they stopped moving.

Day 3, 10.19 a.m.

Well, here I am. What a strange place this is! I must explore it.

I have explored it, and I have made several important discoveries. The world I am in measures approximately 30 cl³ in volume, and it appears to be sealed off from another world by a hard, concave and transparent wall. I know it is hard because I bumped up against it and hurt my nares. Moreover, there seems to be no way of escaping this world to get into the other world. At first I thought it might be possible to dig a tunnel under the sand, but there again, my nares came into painful contact with another hard surface. It was however neither concave, nor transparent, but flat and dark brown. Whether or not the two hard surfaces derive from the same substance remains uncertain, but what is sure is that both seem completely unbreakable. No way out from below.

No way out from above either. There, this world ends abruptly and another world begins, the two being separated as if by an invisible sheet. It is possible to break through the sheet into the next world, but the atmosphere there is different from in this world, and I almost choked, for it is impossible to breathe out there. Hence, there is no way out: I am trapped inside this world.

Day 4, 10.22 a.m.

There is very little to do here it seems, and it is rather dull to be alive in this world. I am in need of distraction. Maybe I should explore a bit; it would give me something to do. But it feels like I already know what I will find, as if I had been here once before. Strange…Déjà-vu perhaps. The world outside this concave transparent wall looks far more interesting: it appears to be filled with many different objects and colours, although I cannot see them clearly because I am extremely short-sighted—from birth no doubt (but I cannot be sure because I do not remember when I was born…) Anyway, the light seems to come from that world, and not from this one. But what is that sound? It is coming from my stomach! A small guzzling is occurring inside me. Hmm, I wonder if there is anything to eat around here…

Day 5, 12.46 a.m.

I am hungry, and dissatisfied. Things are not as they should be in this world. I do not like this silent diver, with the tube and the flippers. I do not like the way he stands there watching me with his huge glassy eyes. He seems to have stolen my fins and put them on his feet, thinking no doubt that I wouldn’t notice! Tuh! What does he take me for! And that slimy green thing seems a bit too slippery to be trusted either. They are both very different from me, I have noticed. They look different, they behave differently, and that alga certainly smells different from me…They are in short highly suspicious. The two of them must be up to something. I must keep an eye on them in the future.

The pain inside my stomach is getting sharper…why is there no food in here? I have looked everywhere and there is nothing, not a crumb. Where does food come from? If I only could create food…what a wonderful power that would be!

Day 6, 12.49 p.m.

The pain in my stomach is almost unbearable…Food! Food! I need food!

Is that why the figure with the square eyes is not moving? Because he did not find any food? Did he used to be like me? If only I could get outside, there must be food out there! But there seems to be no way to get out of here.

No, impossible, there must be a way! There is always a way, one must believe…But wait, what is this? A gigantic hand has suddenly appeared overhead! How is this possible! It is releasing its fingers and…oh, a miracle! Bits of food are gliding like comets down towards me ! It is like solid light exploding in my mouth! Oh yes, this is what I live for! I could do this forever, just eat and eat and eat…

Day 7, 12.52 p.m.

I have found some food in the sand. At first I thought it was a grain of sand, but then I realized it was a piece of food, and so I ate it. It was good. I am still hungry though. Maybe the figure with the tube in his mouth knows where to find more food.

How rude! He refuses to answer my questions. He doesn’t even look at me when I speak to him! He must be hiding something. Maybe he has stacked all the food away somewhere and is keeping it all for himself…Maybe he has buried it in the sand…

But what is this? Food is falling from above! It seems to be coming from inside a giant hand! Why, this hand must have great powers, that it can spontaneously create food like that! It must be divine.

Day 8, 2.22 p.m.

I feel slightly bloated today, my stomach is very full and I feel drowsy.

I am very bored here. There is absolutely nothing to do except swim around and look at things. What am I supposed to be doing here exactly? It all seems rather pointless. The diver over there finds it boring as well, judging by the vapid look on his face. He is so bored that he has completely given up on physical activity: he hasn’t moved since morning. I must find some source of distraction or I will end up like him. There must be something to do around here…ah! A piece of food!

Day 9, 02.25 p.m.

Spent the day mostly staring.

I am now experiencing a strange sensation in my rear-end, it feels rather pleasant.

Oh, look! Something long, thin and brown has come out of my rear-end and is now floating around! How charming! It does not smell very good though. It does not taste very good either. I must remember not to eat it again.

Day 10, 2.28 p.m.

Spent the morning and part of the afternoon staring.

I found a brown string floating around and ate it, mistaking it for food. It was unpleasant. I must remember not to eat it again.

Stared most of the evening too.

Day 11, 4.09 p.m.

I remember these pebbles, everything seems very familiar. Did I come here in a dream maybe? I have heard of such things happening—although I do not know how or when I heard this (I have a terrible memory)—I have heard that sometimes our spiritual selves leave our bodies when we are asleep and go wandering to other worlds while our physical selves stay sleeping. Is it possible that my spiritual self has seen the world behind this transparent wall? Is my physical self out there sleeping, and am I my spiritual self visiting this world in here? Is there a self that unites the physical self with the spiritual self? Am I that self, since I recognize these pebbles in the sand? What is my self?

Day 12, 4.12 p.m.

I am in a quizzical mood today. Many ideas are buzzing around and colliding with each other in my brain, and I feel very depressed all of a sudden. I feel the presence of something huge weighing down on me. But it is all very absurd; there is no physical reason that could explain why I feel this way. I feel no pain in my body, I am not hurt. The weight comes from inside. I must distract myself.

Day 13, 4.15 p.m.

How pretty these pebbles are, look! They all have their own shape and colour! And look! The sand too glitters in the light, every grain is different. This one is white, this one yellow, this one gold, this one silver, this one grey, pink, and this one a rather ugly shade of brown,…slightly lighter than the brown of these malodorous strings that are floating about…but every colour lends the grains their own particular quality. There are so many! I wonder if I can count them, let’s see: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven,…

Day 14, 4.18 p.m.

One hundred and forty two…

One hundred and forty two? Now what does that mean I wonder? Is it some kind of code perhaps? Or my age? Or a name…is it my name? Who am I? How did I get here?

What a lot of sand there is down there! I wonder if I can count all the individual grains: one, two, three, four, five, six, oh no, I missed one…

Day 15, 4.21 p.m.

There is something missing in this world. There is a space somewhere, an empty space. I feel it. In my stomach. In some cultures, I believe it is believed that the soul resides in the stomach…Ugh…it is starting to hurt…I wonder if there is anything to eat around here. Hmm, that pebble looks tasty…

Day 16, 4.24 p.m.

Woke up sucking a pebble. I must be going crazy! There is a sharp pain in my stomach and my head is full of questions. I feel disoriented, I think I shall faint. I don’t think I can take this pain much longer…

Oh, my goodness! A giant hand is pouring food into the world from above! I know this hand to be the manifestation of a divine being; it comes from where the light comes from. Or maybe it is the other way around: maybe the light came from it? Maybe it created this world? Maybe it created me? Maybe it put me here to eat food and to enjoy the colour of the sand? What a wondrous thing this hand is…

Day 17, 4.27 p.m.

Praise the hand! Glory be to the Hand almighty! The food falls in little golden granules that float gently down through the atmosphere. I cannot catch them all as they fall, and many have already fallen onto the sand. Maybe they fell before I arrived here and turned into sand. Maybe the food and the sand are the same thing. There are so many grains of sand down there, I wonder how many. Every one of them is a gift from the hand above…!

Day 18, 4.30 p.m.

A pleasant feeling has settled in my stomach. It feels like a hole has been plugged inside my belly.

But I have forgotten something, what was it? How small and yet so big this world seems to me…with all these grains of sand, and all these pebbles. To count them would take days, months, years, a lifetime even! The number of small things in this world somehow makes it bigger…vast…endlessly so! And beyond this transparent wall there seems to be another world enclosing this one, which means that this world, which is already infinitely big by virtue of the myriad infinitely small things it contains, is only a small world inside a bigger world, which could very well be another small world inside a bigger world, and that world a smaller world inside an even bigger world, and…Oh, I have a headache…

Why was I placed in this particular world? Who put me here? And why? Was it someone from a bigger world? Are there others like me?

Day 19, 8.42 p.m.

There are so many interesting things in this world! So many different colours in the sand! And this slimy green thing, and this silent figure with the sad stare! The fins on his feet suggest we have much in common. I have tried to talk to him, but he refuses to answer. Which, incidentally, I find rather rude, although I did not tell him so, for fear of offending him. I feel like I offend him already, just by the very fact of my being here with him, in the same world….is it the smell? I have noticed that malodorous brown strings have been continuously coming out of my rear end recently—through no fault of my own, I cannot control them!—and that they now float around according to ill-defined trajectories. Maybe the figure in the flippers finds the smell offensive, and does not like to feel them float up against his face. Why does he not brush that string off of his face then? It has been sitting there for a least an hour…Or maybe he has an aversion to ill-defined trajectories and prefers more clearly defined modes of locomotion. He is so still, so stable, so silent and weighty! Maybe he does not like what is not like him. Maybe ill-defined things make him feel insecure. I can perfectly understand how he feels, I am rather put off by ill-defined things myself… and everything in this world seems very ill-defined, very vague and floating…and the world outside this wall is simply very blurry. The figure and I obviously understand one another. And I think the green thing does too: it keeps hovering indeterminately back and forth, as if caught in an eternal current of indecisiveness. It must be very tedious and frustrating to be thrown back and forth like that, painful even! I completely empathise: I feel caught in a similar current of indistinctness…we are all the same in the end. We all feel alone and misunderstood. If we could only open up to each other, kiss, hug and help each other…a little affection is all we need sometimes. This pebble here for example: does it know that it is the only donkey-grey, cloud-shaped pebble in the world? Yes, the only one, there is no other like it. It must feel so lonely…there, there, don’t be sad, here, let me kiss you…

Day 20, 8.47 p.m.

I woke up sucking a pebble…I must be going crazy! And why am I here? The light is disappearing, and I feel strangely alone. I am afraid…

Day 21, 8.50 p.m.

A strange weight hangs over me. There is silence all around, as if the world were holding its breath. There are many different things at the bottom of this world; I can vaguely distinguish their outlines, though the light is fading rapidly. I am afraid to go near them. They are different from me, and no doubt wish to hurt me. I feel the presence of a vile tentacle, rocking to and fro like a snake ready to lunge out at me and drag me to the depths of the underworld…And that sinister motionless figure, a cold blooded killer perhaps, no doubt with psychopathic, carnivorous tendencies…! There are so many of them, looming in the darkness, how many I don’t know! They wish to harm me. I can feel it, but why? Why do they wish to hurt…

Day 22, 8.53 p.m.

me…Me? Who am I? I feel a familiar pain in my stomach. All is dark and ominous here… what hell is this? I cannot look down, I feel the presence of hidden dangers swarming beneath me, I must look up, up, I don’t know why, the darkness seems to thin out up there. Something will come from above, it must come!…

Why doesn’t it come? Something is swelling up inside me, I feel cold, my whole body is shaking, I feel the weight of a million eyes fastened on me…no, it is much worse: I feel the weight of a thousand eyes looking away from me, ignoring me! I feel them there beneath me, but when I look, there is nothing, they are not there. They do not care…And what is above does not care either! What is out there? Who is he? Why does he not care? Is it because I do not matter? Is it because of the smell of these strings that come out of me from behind? Am I too imperfect? Is it because I am…what am I exactly? There are so many grains of sand, I know there are, but where? I cannot see them. Yet I know they are there, somewhere, I have seen them before, perhaps in a dream. Yes, I know they are there, because the thought of them fills me with a warm sensation, I don’t know why, in my belly; they used to fall from above. Why do I remember them? Why do I not remember my birth? Was I also a grain of sand that fell from above? They were so small I remember…

Day 23, 11.58 p.m.

My stomach aches. I know there is sand there in the darkness, I do not know how I know, but there are also pebbles which I would like to suck on because they comfort me. (I must be crazy!) And I wish to eat the sand because the grains remind me of a pleasant feeling in my belly. But if I eat all the sand, the sand will all disappear, and if I suck the pebbles, the pebbles will also disappear into my belly, and I will be left alone with the slimy tentacle, the glassy-eyed maniac—who are they? How do I know them?—and oh, no,…no, I would prefer to be left completely and utterly alone in the world than together with those monsters…

Alone? Why do I wish to eat the sand? And what if the pebbles suck on me?

Day 24, 11.59 p.m.

There are many many things in the universe, I seem to remember, and I am only one of them. What am I exactly? Just a part of the universe. A small, tiny, minuscule component, just like all the others. A grain of sand among other grains of sand. Is there nothing then that distinguishes me from anything else in the universe? Do I have no colour of my own? It is so dark in here, I cannot see a thing. Presumably I have no colour, since I cannot see it. Am I then made of darkness? Where is the sand? Where are the pebbles, the flippers, the floating brown strings…? What sand, what pebbles, what flippers, what floating brown string, what….? Something is missing—did I just dream them up? My stomach hurts. There is a hole inside of me. It must be dark inside the hole, just like the universe around me. Maybe the hole out there and the hole in here are the same thing. The darkness weighs on me from the inside, it weighs me down, I am sinking.

Day 25, 5.28 a.m.

It is dark. So very dark. I am alone in darkness. I cannot see myself, I have no shape, no form. I cannot be sure that I even really exist…

One hundred and forty two.

Where does this number come from? What does it mean? (I must be going crazy!) But shh! What’s that? Something touched me. Something stealthy and slimy, like a tentacle…The tentacle, yes, I remember: sent by the sinister brown strings, to capture me, draw me down and bury me beneath the sand in order to devour me later, while the pebbles suck on each other, piled on top of a giant falling hand cast into the universe to weigh the worlds down, cast by the evil glass-eyed Silent-One, who travels to and fro between worlds through transparent tunnels under the sand by means of his flippers, and blows emptiness out of the tube in his mouth to feed the swelling darkness inside of us that grows and grows, engulfs us all, and makes us all the same, all unique, but all identical in our uniqueness, trapped in our sameness, reproductions of the exact same model of existence, which makes every one of our gestures, every one of our thoughts, our actions, our beings a distraction, programmed, pre-determined, the mechanical fulfilment a need, a need itself conditioned by some unfathomable intention, an ill-defined purpose, modelled on a greater pattern, and that pattern, a cyclical, relentless reproduction of itself, a wheel turning on itself, turning and turning in space, aimlessly, meaninglessly!

And we, perpetually floating in a pool of darkness, alone and trembling, trapped between the walls of an unbreakable illusion, condemned to always aimlessly question, aimlessly doubt, drifting from state to state in a pointless vacuum of activity, an endless cycle of boredom, pain, desire, and satisfaction, flowing through us, whirling us round and round and round, in emptin….

Day 26, 6.31 a.m.

ness. But look, how bright it is all of a sudden! I feel strangely relieved.

And what is this? A piece of food?

Day 28, 06.34 a.m.

Oh look: a pebble!

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3 responses to “Story: Diary of a Goldfish

  1. I love this story on so many levels, its brilliant and clever, pushes you to think…. I am going to read it again and again

  2. This is an excellent story. It’s funny, yet deeply serious too. I like its structure; the way it works up to a climax of existential delirium, full of the despair and angst that somehow we know lie within every goldfish, real or metaphorical. A distinct intelligence at work, here. More, please.

  3. This story is deep and clever. I was feeling trapped in myself while reading it. Congratulations:)

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