The woman who killed the fish.

As a child Clarice’s mother and father left her to her own devices. She often went to school in the same clothes for days at a time, and she’d mastered the art of forging her mother’s signature so she could go on field trips to the museum and the zoo and whatnot. When she was a teenager she had no curfew and no rules and no consistent breakfast, lunch or dinner.

She began dating in her twenties, and quickly found men to be too needy. She could deal with the sexual needs – this was a mechanical issue as far as she was concerned – but it was the constant need for emotional reassurance that sent her packing. Women were marginally better but by her thirtieth year it had become clear to her that she was not suited for companionship with her own kind

And so she bought a goldfish. The pimply clerk at the pet store told her about the importance of measuring pH levels at least once a month, ideally every two weeks -- a goldfish cannot survive in an overly alkaline or acidic environment, and so she needed to keep tabs. 'That’s just about it,' the boy had said, 'keep the water in the neutral zone and sprinkle in some food every day or two.'

Clarice was well-suited for this ongoing task of maintaining a neutral pH-level – it was a bit like sex but less taxing and more fulfilling.

But goldfish, poor communicators though they are, have emotional needs too, needs that Clarice was predictably ill-suited to meet.

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Jan 30Liked by Jasper Diamond Nathaniel

I wander from room to room, each wall shelved from floor to ceiling. Thousands of spines, ragged and pristine, embossed, hand lettered and machine printed. All familiar. Each read many times, the pages well thumbed and their words and phrases as comforting as a lover’s touch at midnight.

But near the door, on a low shelf by my desk, stands a lone volume. Bound in dark, heavy leather, the pages thick and yellow, it alone is a mystery to me. I have no knowledge of the first page, or the last, or what lies between. Its words and phrases are strangers to me, ephemeral and invisible, fading from my mind before I can grasp them. The rest of the library is ordered and catalogued, objective separated neatly from subjective. History, autobiography, philosophy and the prophecies of prophets and science fiction all indexed to perfection. Which this book is I cannot say. The truths its pages would hold seem real, but some have proved to be otherwise. My memory of its facts are, to me, unreliably distinct from the fiction of my senses. I fear what it may reveal, and so have not read it. Nor written it. I trace the single, silvered word on the spine. ‘Diary’.

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Jan 30Liked by Jasper Diamond Nathaniel

The book I selected was, "Your Nutrition Led You Here".

I awoke with a strange taste in my mouth. Was that sesame? I didn’t recall eating anything with sesame in it. I tried to sit up but nothing really happened. My brain willed the movement, but there was no familiar shifting of my head and the space around me as I moved through it.

Proprioception slowly kicked in and it felt as though there was something soft and large around my midsection. Like my stomach was filled with baked dough. I pressed on it, and sure enough it was pliable, squishy. I tried to look down, but no luck. It almost felt like my neck had disappeared.

I tried my arms next. Could I lift them? I raised one up and this time felt what I expected. I brought it up into the vision of my unmoving head and yelped when I saw lettuce. In my panic, I had started thrashing and realized that I could rock side-to-side. Was I… cylindrical? I was feeling… cylindrical somehow.

I rocked slowly, left to right, building momentum with each oscillation until I finally rolled off the bed. I kept rolling across the floor until I collided with the opposite wall. I was now facing back toward my bed, toward the path of my roll. Laying on the floor was a tomato. Had I left the tomato behind, had it somehow fallen off of… out of… me? I had also left a trail of something reddish-white. It had a distinct smell of … was that ketchup? Mayonnaise?

I used my lettuce hands to feel around. Still squishy, but some parts felt a little less squishy. I curled my lettuce hands into what I hoped were lettuce fists and tried to tear at myself. Maybe I could break a piece off and see what comprised my new essence. I hacked and clawed, if you could even imagine lettuce turning into claws, until a piece broke away. Trying and failing again to look down, I raised the piece of me to my eyes. Hamburger meat. Cooked. A rather processed looking patty.

A jingle worked its way into my head. Two all beef patties. Special sauce. Lettuce. Cheeese. Pickles, Onions on a sesame seed bun. I always figured, “you are what you eat” was just a phrase that doctors used to make us feel guilty about our poor diets. I guess I was going to have to start laying off the McDonalds.

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Now I’ve pretty much read all the books I have in the house, so I’ll go with a book that I’m itching to get but I haven’t pulled the trigger to buy it yet (considering that it’s not even available in the States yet). I’m going with “The Dance Tree” (book link: https://www.amazon.com/Dance-Tree-Kiran-Millwood-Hargrave/dp/0063274779).

In some medieval French villages, towards the end of summer there is a festival that goes on, which celebrates the first harvest of apples. The festival is of course, apple themed, with the bakers all around baking apple dishes, like apple pies, roasted pig with a fresh fruit salad, and so on. In these festivals there is music and dancing, which lasts from midday all the way to night, to the chagrin of some of the elders. However, one year, things remained festive for a lot longer than usual.

In the year of 1554, the harvest of apples came exceptionally early, owing to the relatively mild and wet summer. Nobody was really sure why the weather was like that. Some believed that a witch raised a hex and cursed France, while the clergy believed the second coming was going to happen soon. Whatever the explanation was, people were of course joyed that the apples were here.

The farmers of the villages harvested the apples, as they have done in the past. These apples, however, were quite a bit different than what they harvested in the past. They were a bit larger and darker than usual, and there was a very coarse stem on them. The farmers didn’t seem to mind, though. They were probably thinking, “Bigger apples? Great! We can make more food!”

The festival day came, which was a reasonably warm Sunday. Everyone in the village was raring to enjoy the latest harvest, as well as enjoy some new music. I, being a relatively young lad looking for a mate, sought to head there and potentially find one.

During the festivities a number of residents did approach me to try their latest creation involving apples. I did agree to try their dishes, but something smelled off with them, and ultimately I didn’t eat any of them. I couldn’t pinpoint what it was. Perhaps it was the amount of sugar the bakers put in, or perhaps they threw in too much alcohol. Ugh. Can’t stand the taste of alcohol in a dish.

Of course, the festival was full of dancing, and I partook in it for several hours. Sadly, I was unsuccessful in finding a mate, but soon, finding a mate would be the least of my problems.

It was perhaps nine at night, and the festival was still going at full blast. I wanted to continue, but I was tapped out of energy, and I needed to get home. After navigating the crowd, who were still moving as if they had oodles of energy, I made it home and I went to bed.

The next morning, I woke up, albeit still tired. Loud music could still be heard playing throughout the village, which had disrupted my sleep. While still in bed, I was thinking, “Haven’t the guards done anything about the ruckus? It was supposed to have ended last night.”

I then got out of bed, proceeded to get ready for the day, and then exited my residence, only to find most of my neighbors still dancing on the street.

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It was early in the morning of the first day of Spring, a Sunday, when Rose woke with no hope of falling back asleep. She had been waking up in the predawn hours occasionally over the past few weeks and she knew, even as she could feel her body relaxing further into the warm embrace of the mattress, that she was done for the night.

Rose had become practiced at rising gently from the bed, feeling for a few items from her bedside table in the dark, tiptoeing to the door and slipping out of it in a smooth and almost soundless series of choreographed movements. Her stature, quite petite but athletic, was perfect for sneaking. Her skills were honed as a teenager climbing the creaky hardwood staircase in her parents’ house as they slept mere feet away. She had memorized the sturdiest point on each step, the places she could trust to bear her weight without groaning, and precisely placed her footfalls in the dark. As she completed the pattern, cresting the staircase with barely a whisper, she felt weightless and exhilarated.

The house that Rose shared with her girlfriend of nearly four years was a ranch. There were no stairs to navigate as she started her day much in the same way she always did, albeit a touch earlier than usual. She brewed herself loose leaf tea, choosing a blend at random. While it steeped, Rose filled an old, battered kettle repurposed as a watering can and tended to the various plants scattered throughout the open floor kitchen and living space. She felt their soil and she listened to them, tried to divine what they were telling her, a bit more water, some pruning, a clearer path to receive sunlight. Sometimes, she actually spoke to them in a delicate whisper, murmurs of affection, encouragement, gratitude.

When this was done, she retrieved her tea and savored the first few sips as looking out the window before retreating to her studio. Though she was compulsive about keeping her space and her possessions in particular order and detested visual clutter, her studio was chaotic and overcrowded. She had accrued piles of gear, records, discs, memorabilia, notebooks, and art over the years. She moved it around but could never bear to get rid of much of it, each piece taking on a kind of talismanic significance to her. You never knew which image or sound or memory would shake loose a new inkling of an idea or a mystery to follow, and lead to the next riff, the next chord, the next song. And so she compiled these objects like religious iconography, she felt the weight of them, she played them, she listened to them, she drew them, or studied them. She tried to divine what they were telling her and sometimes, through a process that - on her best days - she did not try to understand, they led her to something that something that sounded good enough, something that was true enough.

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