The Golden Fish
The fish was golden, with scales that shone like noon sun on chrome. Flaxen, delicate fins swirled behind its wake brightening the murk; a match in a dark room.
A fish out of water, in this water, was this special golden fish.
Its liquid home was six feet at the deepest. It feared for its life daily. Its gilded appearance made it most coveted among the local residents who believed its catching would fill wishes and secure wealth and prosperity, things not readily come by in this small village, next to this small pond, with this glittery fish.
For years many tried, but none could catch him. Fathers taught sons, sons taught their sons and so on. But all generations failed.
Until one day…
A young boy with a sad heart and straw basket waded to his thighs in the small pond. The normally hot sun hid itself behind layers of clouds while a light breeze teased his thin black hair and he gave his tears to his face and his face gave its tears to his chin and his chin finally gave them to the water he stood in. Delicate rings spread out where each one landed. A rainfall of sadness from a little boy’s grief.
Drawn by the taste of sorrow into its gills into its home into its heart, the golden fish bravely surfaced in front of the boy and said, “Please young one, why is it you are crying so?”
The boy was no stranger to this fish. He had heard the stories since before he could even walk. He had dreamed of it. Wished for it. Painted it on pottery. And now that it was before him, radiating all of the majestic beauty he had imagined, the only thing that came into his thoughts was not the possibility of wealth or prosperity for his family. He could only think of the cause of his overwhelming sadness.
“Please golden fish,” he said, “can you take my sadness away? It’s a longing in my heart and the pain of it hurts more and more each day.”
The beautiful fish fanned his fins and replied, “My dear young man, I am sorry to learn of your pain. It was the taste of your sadness that tugged at my heart much like the fish hooks of your fathers and grandfathers have done over the many, many years I have lived in this little pond. This bait—your sadness—has called me here to you. I would like to take away your pain and sadness child. Please just tell me what it is and I will try to make it so.”
The young boy blinked his tears away to look at the fish more closely. Could this legendary fish really take away his longing? His sadness? Give him back what he’d always never had? He stared into its coal black eyes and searched for what? Trust? Peace?
He began his tale.
The magical fish listened to the boy’s telling, thick with the word,“father.” A story of never-having and ever-needing. The boy told the fish with a voice weighted heavy with release, every word a stone that sunk deep into the mud in the pond, forever for the fish to remember this tale from the sad boy.
When the boy was through, and his stone words had risen the level of the pond with their new home in its murk, the fish simply said, “Your father will not have you, never have you. He, himself, still a boy. This is something I cannot change. I am sorry.” Then it turned and swam away.
The boy watched him go. The bright gold turning, dull yellow and then black.
He then turned and left and lived the same way as he had come.