Sushi, A Great Story
I don't remember where or when I read this, it could have been here for all I rememeber, for those of you who have not read it before, Enjoy!!
It all started because of Sushi. She didn't have that name then, she didn't have a name at all. Just a feeder comet 8 for a buck at the local pet store. Bought her to feed to an albino Oscar named Ernie, who did have a name and also quite an appetite. Nothing was special about Sushi, except that Ernie didn't eat her like he did all the other comets. Perhaps Ernie wanted some company, since he was all alone in his tank, and suppressed his hunger to keep this
not-so-special comet as a pet. Bigger and bigger grew Sushi over the next few seasons, so big that I worried that Ernie might change his mind about having her as a pet and kill her instead as a fair-sized rival. So to her own tank went Sushi, and a few other fish to keep her from being lonely as her former master.
Sushi kept growing, and I moved her in turn to larger and larger tanks. By now she was starting to become a little bit special to me, having been with me so long, though I still had no urge to name a fish of such humble heritage. Not quite a pet, but still something to be cared for and watched for signs of hunger or distress.
Something about Sushi kept calling to me at times, even though I had no idea what that call might be. Over the next few years, as Sushi continued to flourish with only a few sad days when her former master Ernie passed away, her calling to me grew stronger. She transformed into a robust and elegantly finned beauty, nothing like I had ever had
in one of my tanks before. Too large, I thought. Too large to live in four glass walls in spite of all my rearranging to accommodate her as well as I could. And still she called to me, and still I felt her call but did not understand.
A few months ago, while at a birthday party for my father at my childhood house, I went next door to give best wishes to an old neighbor. As we visited, he showed me some new exotic plants that he was growing in his backyard ponds. Ponds. Ponds. Ponds. As we approached the water, I saw lush hyacinths, lily pads, water iris and parrot's feather. I knew the names of none of these, but how I marveled at their vivid waxy green and delicate fronds. And then among
the bulbous green boats and lacy sails I saw the fish. They came and crowded and begged to be fed with little 'O' mouths and jumped and writhed and wiggled and looked so alive and bright and. . . . happy. Happy? Happy goldfish? How absurd! But there it was in front of me in
one bright orange and white and calico wriggling ball of delight. I marveled aloud as my neighbor stooped with a handful of food and dipped into the water and fed and fussed and petted. 'They love theirpond,' he said with a beaming smile. Their pond. Their pond. Their pond. I have always had a great deal of pride on my tanks, and how
well I attend to my scaly pets, but at that moment I felt a flush of shame. My fish didn't act like his, didn't act the way his did at all. Could they possibly be. . . . unhappy? Just as absurd, but again, right there in front of me. I thought of Sushi at that moment and pictured her in my mind. A pond. A pond. A pond. A pond? Now after patient years of calling out to me, I heard her! Now I understood! Now I knew what to do!
The summer break from teaching school came a few weeks later, and then it began. Digging by day and reading at night. Learning, digging, learning, planning, learning, digging. Every shovel full was a little closer to the answer for my silently calling Sushi. And call she
did....... A Pond, A Pond, A Pond. I hear you now, little fish, and I'm working as fast as I can. A few weeks later and 5 cubic yards of earth were missing, and in their place was one thousand gallons of water and sweat surrounded by 10,000 pounds of rock. Not yet time for Sushi, though, for first the plants and then the 8 for a buck cheapies to cycle and then to see if it all will work the way I have learned it must. And still she calls...... A Pond, A Pond, A Pond.
A few weeks later it all looks good. Now. Net her, into the bowl of tank water, and then to float the bowl in the pond. And now, the moment of truth. In she goes! A look around, a little wiggle of the fins, a longer look around, a longer wiggle of the fins, and then a trip around the edge to explore her new and non-rectangular world. A few days later I noticed that she was pushing the hyacinths around and
coming to the top and splashing with her fins like a porpoise. I asked the mailman if his did that. See, he had started stopping by and eating his lunch in my front yard when he had a little time on his route..... he has a pond. He said that his did that, too. I asked him if that meant that the fish was happy. He said he thought that's what
it meant. Then, then I gave her a name. Sushi. Former Oscar food promoted to Oscar pet and gradually gliding into my heart so she could patiently, patiently call to me. She reached me. I did it. Happy fish.
Tonight, though, tonight made me cry. Stupid, silly me, it's just a fish I tell myself but seeing what I saw her do I just couldn't help but weep from some strong emotion I just can't quite name. You see, today I put some lights around the edge of her pond, partly so I could see the fish at night, which I told my wife, and partly to keep me
from accidentally kicking some of the larger rocks in the dark, which I didn't tell my wife. In the box with the path lights was a little spotlight, so I stuck it in the rocks by the ripple going into her pond and turned it so the light was on the water. As night came on I washed and ate and took a nap and then went back out to see the lights, and there she was. Staying right in the glow of that little
spotlight she swam, and circled, and looped, and wriggled. I wondered that maybe she was hungry, so I tossed a few pellets on the water. No, not interested, not hungry. She just kept swimming, and circling, and looping, and wriggling, staying in the glow of that light -- then she
called to me. Happy. Dancing. Happy. Dancing. Then I cried.
In her pond, she dances at night.