WRITING Goodbye Fish

Discussion in 'SHOWCASING' started by Saren, Apr 24, 2014.

  1. Hello. :3 This is my short story for my creative writing class. To summarize quickly, it's about a girl learning to handle a new life.

    Enjoy! Feedback is always appreciated as well. Posts will be five pages per post as they appear on my word document. The total story is 18 pages long, totaling 5,074 words.

    (Page 1-5)

    My duffle bag of semi-dirty clothes hit the floor of the dormitory room as I took a deep breath of Monterey’s ocean air. The room was empty since my roommate hadn’t moved in yet. The walls were bland and white, and they did nothing to offset the disgustingly mottled green and purple carpet. There was nothing inviting about them or even the entire room. One hand pressed down on the bed was enough to make the frame squeal like a dying pig. The closet doors weren’t much better when I pried them open. I thought I had a lot of clothes, but after putting everything away, the closet still gaped with space.

    I have never complained or even thought about what I had or didn’t have, but staring into the half empty void that was now my closet, I felt like it was a reflection of my life – something that wanted to be filled and never quite got that far.

    A key scraped the doorknob, shattering what few thoughts were scrambling around in my head. Providing help to the person on the other side of the door was not one of those thoughts, but whoever it was didn’t need it. I shrugged and turned back, tipping my foot against one of the boxes to open the lid.

    “Hiiii, new roomie!” I turned to find Tinkerbelle standing in front of me. The only thing distinguishing her from her fairy counterpart was the pair of fat-rimmed sunglasses perched upon her nose.

    “Uh… hi.” Eloquent as always.

    She was already moving around by the time I worked up my pitiful greeting. “I know we talked a little over email but I’m just so excited! I’ve never had a roommate before.” Her things were already flying out from the two suitcases she had, and time I nudged my duffle bag under the bed where she couldn’t see it. It hit me then that her name was Amanda and that I knew next to nothing about her. The emails had been for room arrangements and what to bring. Amanda was having a tall, burly man drag in a mini-refrigerator box with another sitting on top of it, this one for a microwave. Amanda and her family had thought of everything while my side of the room was painfully bare.

    “You said your nickname was Fish, right?” she asked. She was busy setting up a laptop on her desk, something I hadn’t gotten around to.

    “Yeah. Old family nickname. It stuck around,” I answered. Talking about me wasn’t something I wanted to do, so I did my best to change the subject. “Where did you live before you came here?”

    My question launched something I wasn’t expecting. Most people I knew said city and state, end of conversation. With Amanda, I opened up a box of stories. She chattered on and on about her hometown, Sacramento, and about the fun she’d had with her friends in high school. I didn’t want to interrupt her with my own, since I didn’t have many friends during most of my school years. While she spouted stories, I managed to get my boxes unpacked. Her voice, not surprisingly, managed to attract someone else to our room, slowly growing inhabitable by the addition of stuff.

    “Oh, hey, Tony!” I heard Amanda greet the new person. I glanced up to find a chubby but tall boy giving Amanda a quick hug. The sight was comical, to say the least. The awkwardness between their heights was clearly noticeable. Tony looked over at me and smiled, releasing Amanda to let her do her thing. That thing turned out to be introducing us. “Fish, this is Tony. We went to high school together!” She clapped her hands excitedly, as if the news was groundbreaking. I had to admit, they didn’t look like the type to be friends. She seemed so popular and prissy, and he, well, wasn’t. He was everything I envisioned a nerd to be: a little overweight, messy hair, torn pants with no belt, and a shirt depicting some obscure video game as far as I could guess.

    Amanda opened her mouth to continue but noticed Tony’s confused expression as he looked me over. I knew he wasn’t scrutinizing my dark hair done up in a ponytail or my blue eyes or my face in general. Like everyone else, he was curious about my name.

    “Fish?” he asked.

    I sucked in my lips, pushed my hands to my cheeks, and pumped out like gills. “Glub, glub.” Both of them laughed and I could help but give them a bit of a smile too. “I like swimming,” I added, but it didn’t matter since they were both still snickering. I meant to turn back to my empty boxes but Amanda piped up again.

    “Come have dinner with us! You can meet some of the people we met during orientation!”

    People meant talking, and while Amanda and Tony weren’t so bad to know, I wasn’t ready for a crowd. “No thanks. I’m not hungry. I’m going to try and get my computer set up.”

    Amanda wasn’t the least bit phased, but she waved and they departed. I heard her say goodbye to her parents and it then dawned on me that my father had dropped me off, got my boxes inside, and then left without so much as a hug. I wasn’t attached to my family like Amanda was.

    I didn’t realize I was gripping the bed so hard the metal was beginning to whine a protest. I lashed out with my bare foot at a box, launching it under my bed. It was here to stay, and so was I, even if I felt as empty as the box.


    Amanda and I found enough time to discover each other’s schedules, and somehow, Tony got mixed into it all. Amanda and I wouldn’t see one another for most of the day since I had morning classes and hers were later, but I wouldn’t be alone. As it turned out, Tony had a class with me, but it wasn’t until later in the week. For now, he’d taken it upon himself to be my personal tour guide.

    I let him fill the air with random words while we walked. He was guiding me to the science building on campus, the only one distinguishable one from every other broken down building at the large California college. The science center was big with its three floors and spacious rooms. The school wasn’t exactly known for its science degrees, but despite that, the massive building was the first to get an upgrade. The wood was bright and inviting with gaping windows surrounding the third floor. The stone ramp leading up to the door was lined with rock walls on each side and there was a fresh garden popping up around the entire building. It was a nice place, but as soon as I stepped inside, the walls were grey and bland. I could see classes already in session, large rooms with at least fifty students and more filing in as other classes were starting.

    “Well, here we are. You are in… room E110. Right here.” Tony pointed forward into a room that didn’t really look like a room at all. The walls were the temporary flimsy things that separated rooms, like the classroom was unfinished. I thanked Tony and didn’t look back as he left. I was alone, and my finger fiddled with the corner of my schedule until I gathered the strength to move forward. People must have been waiting behind me because I heard mutterings about being held up while I found a seat. It was in the back, thankfully. Screw seating arrangements.

    That was before the teacher entered. She clip-clopped like the most expensively dressed horse with her wide, black high heels and long face. She took a calculating glare around the room, glanced at her watch and, satisfied that class time was going to start when she wanted it to, she launched into a description of herself. All I got from her was that she was Paula Theodore and that she wanted to be addressed as Professor only. Her and her fancy PhD allowed for such a title.
    #1 Saren, Apr 24, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2014
    • Like Like x 1
  2. (Pages 6-10)

    A stack of papers slapped the front table, shocking us all awake and alert. “Nowthat I have your attention,” she put so much pressure on the words, I thought they might break, “this is Nursing Theory I. In this class, you will learn the basics of nursing that will assist you in Nursing Theory II and other major-related classes.”

    And that was when I zoned out. I was aware of looking over the fat syllabus for the class and mechanically moving my hand when she had us turn the page. My head was full of memories of my family. I thought about the first time I’d gone to the cold beaches in Maine, the freezing breezes and the annoying seagulls and my father’s smiling face –

    “Felicia Conneway?” My full name pulled me from my memories.

    “Fish,” I answered, getting a few looks from the others around me.


    “You know, Fish.” I made the same motion as I did with Tony and Amanda, but it didn’t earn a laugh like before, though there were some snickers in front of me. In fact, she looked more pissed than before. With a sigh, I added, “It’s what I prefer to be called, professor.” The pen scratched the clipboard in front of her and with a flat gaze, she regarded the rest of the class and finished her roll taking before she dove into the importance of our textbooks. However, at the end of her monologue, she regarded us with a level stare. “I understand many of you may be unsure about this major, but I’m here to help alleviate those fears. The course is a lot to take in, but as your professor, I’m inclined to help you succeed.” The mean teacher façade didn’t seem to be working for her anymore, but it was hard to take her seriously since I already despised the major I’d been coerced into.

    The rest of the day passed about as smooth as sandpaper. The only thing I managed to think about was how my father would react when I told him I disliked my major already. If he ever decided to call me.


    I flung my backpack into my chair and kicked my flip-flops off into the corner of my room. It was afternoon and I realized Monterey got warm fast. Clad in shorts and a light jacket, something I was never able to wear in Maine except during the summer, I still had to open my window to let the ocean breeze roll in. Even though I couldn’t see the salty body of water, I could still smell it. That was the perk of living near the ocean your whole life: you could pick out the scent any day.

    I didn’t understand how no one was outside in that moment. It was so nice! The sun light bounced off of the pavement and trees, lighting up the entire place. Sure, there were some puffy clouds rolling around in the sky and there was a cold breeze, but the scenery and how open it was…

    I realized I was excited about the scenery. I wasn’t really supposed to like this place. After all, I was flung from my hometown and didn’t have any friends up here. No family, either. I didn’t miss my dad. He would have asked about my day in that monotone I so very much hated, and then he would have berated me for not paying attention in my two nursing classes.

    I slapped the wall next to the window with such force, the blinds shook in terror. Part of me knew it wasn’t right to hate on my dad so much, but he didn’t make disliking him very hard, at least to me. But I didn’t want to mar the lovely day outside with the storm roiling in my head. No time like the present to get to know my surroundings. My room was in the dorm smack dab in the middle of campus, so everything was close. I had a clear view of the vast windows of the library and the parking lot, and beyond that, the trees. They were just tall enough that I couldn’t glimpse the water, but I knew the ocean wasn’t far. It was getting there that concerned me. My father hadn’t done me the service of giving me a bike, and there were no proper roads leading directly to the beach, so walking was my transportation of choice.

    After wandering for a solid hour, having not found the beach just yet, I meandered back into my room to find Amanda hard at work on something on her screen. “Homework already?” I commented as I walked through the door. I wasn’t a very chatty person, but Amanda was easy to talk to, something I’d figured out over the weekend. She liked to talk… a lot. It was just her way. She had a knack for asking the most trivial questions, and I wasn’t used to that. She was interested in my life and what I’d done. She was turning out to be somewhat of a friend.

    “Yeah, can you believe it? First day! It’s just to read something on the syllabus and write a response to it, but c’mon!” My lips quirked up in a smile as I watched her train of thoughts leave the station. I don’t know her parents managed to keep such a lid on the chatterbox she was.

    She must have weaved a few questions into her overdramatic monologue about her math class, because she was looking at me expectantly as I straightened my bed. “Sorry, what?”

    “I just wanted to know about you.”

    “Oh. I just come from boring Maine. Nothing but lobsters and sea water.” It wasn’t the answer she was looking for, but she only turned back to her computer.

    I almost laughed as she wailed, “Who cares about what I hope to learn in this class?! It’s math! I hope to learn the proper radius of a noose so I can hang myself before the end of this class.”


    Two weeks had passed. It was enough time for friendship seeds to be planted, but something was choking back the growth. After some not so deep introspection, I realized it was me. By the time night rolled around, I was still awake. I tossed and turned, but the squeaky frame did nothing to alleviate my thoughts.

    Dink, dink, dink.

    The rain was knocking at my window and I didn’t answer it. After so long of still not sleeping, I finally decided to screw the weather. I swiped my keys from my desk and fished for my flip-flops under my bed. Being on the first floor had its advantages: no damn stairs. The downside was the puddle I stepped in right as I moved outside. My fleece pant leg was soaked and I didn’t care.

    I thought about Professor Theodore of all people while I muddled through the rain. Several times I’d asked to meet with her, and I had only gone once to actually see her. She told me if I was having trouble, I should write or talk to someone about it. Preferably a therapist, but I wouldn’t touch them with a ten foot pole. My mind drifted to the notebook under my bed. It had everything I wanted to say but no voice behind it. It was hiding, just like the rest of me was.

    I walked past the concrete sitting area to the grass surrounding a massive tree. It looked like it’d sat there for centuries, watching over all the students who had ever had the privilege of wandering under its branches. It protected the squirrels and birds from the rain, and the leaves might have spared me the sky’s tears, but I let them smack into me, each individual drop carrying the weight of the world. The tree was like a mother to the rest of the world, something I didn’t have.

    But no one knew. I had thrown the idea around of telling them. Each conversation had been set up just so I could say it, and nothing came out. I only blamed myself because I spent so long keeping it hidden; it was too hard to show now.

    “Why did you go?” I whispered, rain streaming down my face. I tasted salt and realized there were tears too. I hadn’t cried since I had seen my mother so perfectly posed in her casket. The cancer hadn’t turned her ugly like it had other patients. Her dark hair was splayed out on the silk pillow, her delicate hands clean and crossed over her chest. Her ocean blue eyes, the ones I’d gotten from her, were forever closed, never to look upon me or my father ever again.

    “Why did you go?!” I repeated, louder this time. The rain drowned out my words, but I still heard it. I still heard the sob that erupted from my chest. I heard the tearing of my mind as it struggled to shove down the things I had forgotten long ago. I let the stream of memories flow. I’d been happy once, just like my father. But we turned bitter and spiteful to one another as the years passed. The worst part was that I was old enough to have remembered her.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. (Pages 11-15)

    Mothers were always perfect in the eyes of their children, but I was sure my mother had achieved God’s perfection when she had been alive. She knew all the right words to stop a fight, heal our wounds and bring our whole family together. We worked as a single functioning unit while she had been around, and now the gears had been gummed up with hate and sorrow.

    “You made everything better, Mom.” Maybe she could hear me, or maybe she couldn’t. Once I had prayed to her and hoped she was still watching me grow into a normal human being. I hadn’t spoken to her since, and now I regretted it. Maybe she’d have sent me a sign if I hadn’t stopped talking to her.

    “We miss you… We both do.” Before the rain could seep into my skin and chill my bones, I slipped back inside, giving myself a quick shower to chase the cold from my skin. It wasn’t enough to chase the sadness from my mind.


    Another week of internalizing thoughts and snapping at people who tried to speak left me upset. I had managed to convince Amanda and Tony to sit down for five minutes and hear me out since neither one had displayed interest in being around me.

    I had one chance.

    I hadn’t told a single other soul about the permanent pain residing in my chest or the rage I always seemed to aim at my father. I hadn’t ever spoken about the way my mother looked when she was laying on her death bed, still happy to see me, the blue eyes still shining with love even as she coughed out her last words.

    By the time I was done, my story had earned a hug from Amanda and a bear’s embrace from Tony. “C’mon, you look like you need some food.” It was Amanda’s way of giving me another chance, one that I didn’t deserve.

    “They have ice cream todaaaay,” Tony sang, poking my arm. They led me out the door before I had to ask them a burning question.

    “…You mean they don’t have ice cream every day?”

    Their laughter echoed off the building and the mother-tree as we walked, and somehow, I smiled again.

    We met several of Tony’s friends in the dining hall, all of them filling the typical nerd stereotype like Tony himself had. However, I quickly discovered they all had his sharp wit and penchant for referencing video games and pop culture. Several times, I had to have them explain what they were talking about. They all seemed shocked I didn’t know much about anything. The blonde boy sitting next to Tony declared they were going to spend the next semester teaching me what I needed to know. When I asked what exactly that entailed, all I got was a wink and a creepily spoken, “you’ll see.”

    Tony then launched off into something about a game, and he even seemed to have Amanda hooked on his story. It was something about his character managing to blow up an entire base after an enemy had infiltrated it. Not knowing the first thing about the game, I was lost. However, Tony was so dramatic with his arms flailing around and various sound effects to depict his story that I couldn’t help but listen too.

    Suddenly, I surprised all of them and even myself by laughing. Tony’s story had just ended so I wasn’t interrupting anything, but even if I had, I had derailed his train of thought.

    “Fish, are you okay?” Amanda asked. Me laughing is something to be concerned about, apparently.

    I fiddled with my fork. “Yeah,” I chuckled. “I just didn’t expect to be hanging out with people like you.”

    That must have been the wrong thing to say because I sparked a chorus of derogatory words.

    “Nerds? Geeks? Untouchables? Casuals? Stupid idiots? Fat gamers? Dumb kids?”

    It seemed the consensus of the table was that not a single one of them had a good experience being the people they were.

    “No, no, you misunderstand me.” I had one chance to make this right. “I meant people who, y’know, actually care and stuff. You wanted me to hang out with you even if I don’t understand half of what you’re saying! That’s not a bad thing. I just mean it’s a nice change of pace from… from home. Where I used to live, I mean.”

    They were all smiling and I didn’t know why.

    “Of course! You’re always welcome with us. We’re all your friends here.” Her finger circled the table before she noticed she’d spilled sauce on her hand. With a girlish squeal, she scrubbed at her sleeve, earning eye rolls from everyone else at the table.

    “You don’t have to worry about being by yourself anymore,” Tony said, sweeping his hands out to capture Jake and the other boy sitting beside him in a wide hug, crushing the two of them into his armpits. He grinned as they struggled before he released them. They came away gasping profanities and something about the state of Tony’s smell. It was all in jest, and Tony shrugged it off like he’d been dealing with it his whole life.

    It seemed like something I didn’t understand until just then. Shrugging off my mom’s death was something I wouldn’t ever do, but I could learn to cope. If Tony could do it while being insulted and jabbed, why couldn’t I? My past was of a different magnitude, but that didn’t matter. We were still alike.

    I looked around the table at Tony, Jake, Amanda, and the other three boys before I slapped my hand on my plate. “I think it’s time for some ice cream. Who’s with me?” The table cheered, promptly annoying anyone else trying to have a normal conversation.


    I hated surprises, and after a month of finally making friends with the others, I got one. Walking back from my class with Tony, I laughed as he told some story about his time of dying in a difficult video game, and then the laughter faded as I saw my father. Tony followed my gaze and noted my father’s stiff position, like he had a pole stuck up his ass that replaced his spine. “Uh… Want me to go?” he asked, pointing toward the door.

    “Yeah, I’ll meet up with you later. Thanks.” I wasn’t looking at him, but I heard his flip flops squeak away. I moved forward, feet shuffling and head down like I was twelve again, after the news of my mother’s death. “…Hi, Dad. I wish you would have called.”

    “It was… spur of the moment,” he replied, which was uncharacteristic of my father. He was about as methodical as a calculator, giving quick and logical answers that were always right, even if I thought they were wrong.

    “Well, now you’re here. I suppose you need something, otherwise you wouldn’t have driven the hour to get here.” I rubbed my shoulder underneath my backpack, but he caught the motion. Moving to the car, he unlocked it and sat inside, like he was expecting me to automatically join him. With an internal groan, I popped open the passenger door and sat down. In silence, he drove out of campus grounds, but after a moment or two of watching trees whip by, I started to recognize where we were going. “Are we going to—?”

    “Yes.” The reply was a sword through butter: fast, sharp, and completely unnecessary. I grumbled and crossed my arms, realized the action was childish, then sat back up. My father had hardly taken me anywhere since my mother had died.

    The beach was beautiful and bright and everything I’d ever wanted it to be. Warm sand glittered with broken bottles and shattered sea shells, and I couldn’t help curving my lips at the sight of it. The water glistened in the sunlight like ten thousand pieces of smooth glass with white waves crashing on rocks jutting out of the ground, giving the impression of shark teeth.

    I was too deep into my introspection about the beach and I almost missed my father walk to the sand wall overlooking the beach and sit down. For the first time, I noticed his attire. He was wearing jeans and a light polo, something he hadn’t worn in years. Always the business man, my father rarely came home in anything but a pressed suit and plain tie. His job at a law firm had been the whole reason we’d packed up and moved. He was the reason I’d left behind what I knew.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. (Pages 16-18)

    I sat down next to him, but I was cautious. My gaze was on the ocean, not on him. Our feet hung over the side, swinging like fleshy vines on stone trees. “I came here to talk,” he said suddenly.

    “…And you couldn’t do that over the phone? I mean, I don’t know the contract, but I’d say it’s probably cheaper than gas.” I didn’t even have to look at him to feel the burning of his gaze on my face. “Ahem. Sorry. Continue.” I wasn’t really sorry. My father knew how I felt and I for him.

    “I realize I haven’t been the best to you lately.” That’s the understatement of the century. “I’ve done what I thought was best for you.”

    “Well, it’s best to do that when you actually know what my interests are.” I took the time to study him while I glared. His hair was graying and wrinkles displayed his age more than he would ever say. My father wasn’t young, but the years had taken their toll on him, just like they had on me.

    My father cleared his throat. “We haven’t been good to each other since the cancer took her. Moving has given us a chance to start over,” he said, trying to start again.

    “…So you want to forget.” My voice was flat. I sounded just like him.

    “Felicia, you know that is not what I mean—”

    “Well, it sure as hell sounds like it!” I stood up, brushing sand from my pants. “We moved out here for your job, not to reconcile like a family again. If you’d wanted that, maybe you should have tried a little sooner!”

    He followed my motion but made no move toward me. “You are not making this easy,” he said.

    “I’m not? You haven’t made it easy for the past seven years! Forget this. I’m leaving. Next time you want to surprise me, bring me a puppy.”


    The phone blared in my ear, as if warning me not to make the call. It’d been a month since he’d sprung his poorly thought out visit to me, but in the end, I had been the one to end it. He hadn’t tried to contact me since.

    “Randy Conneway speaking.”

    “Hey, Dad, it’s me.”

    “Felicia. I didn’t expect to hear from you. I assumed you were busy like last time.” Of course he did. I pulled the phone from my ear to take a long breath as he started talking again. “I trust all of your classes are going well?”

    “Yes, Dad, they’re alright. Can I just—”

    “Felicia, I hope you realize everything I’ve done to help you get there. I had to give a lot just to see you—”

    “Dad!” It was my turn to cut him off, but this time, he didn’t try to speak like I had. He waited, but I could almost hear the patience wearing thin in his breath. I could imagine the stone-cold glare in his eye, the one he always gave me when I tried to work up a good argument.

    “Dad, listen. I know you miss her. I do too. I don’t want to be angry at you anymore, Dad. I think I blamed you for a while. I don’t know why. I just wanted to say I’m sorry. I know you worked a lot to get me up here, and I am grateful for it. I want to pick my own major though. I don’t want to go into nursing.” Silence met my pause. “I know what you wanted for me, and I know you were just looking out for me.” There was nothing on the other line that I could hear. “…Dad?”

    “You have one thing right: I miss her. However, I am very busy right now. Perhaps we can talk about this at a later date? …When you won’t walk away from me.”

    Well, it was better than I had expected, considering my abrupt departure at the beach, but I still flinched at the memory. “Yeah. Sorry to bother you, Dad. Talk to you later.”

    “Goodbye… Fish.”

    It hit me then that neither one of us had said we loved each other.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Love Love x 1