Write It Sideways

Excerpt Critique: “Staying Safe,” Short Story

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Staying Safe

Short Story

I’m thirty-eight and I live in Vancouver. I need to get a new fish today. It’s hot outside. I think about the girl I saw last night. I never asked her if she was Janie. If it had been Janie I don’t know what I would have said. Thinking about it makes me sweat.

I go into the pet store and look around. I worry about the people that work there thinking I’m weird. I hope they don’t ask why I buy so many gold fish. Next time I’ll go to a different pet store. People would think I’m a monster if they knew that I was buying the goldfish so Marcel could eat them.

I walk down to the pier with the goldfish. He’s swimming around in a little plastic bag with a rubber band on top. He looks out at the world and he thinks he’s in it. At the pier I lean on the railing and hold the bag over the water. Showing him the ocean boarders on animal abuse. I think about letting him go, but then remember he’d die in the saltwater. I think about dropping the bag in. He’d be safe. Nothing could hurt him.

I decide Marcel is the more humane fate than dying in a little plastic bag. When I get home Marcel is in the window looking out at the world. He turns his head and mews at me. The goldfish isn’t scared, he thinks he’s safe in his bubble.

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