Vibrations ripple through the water. Maybe Dave (or Dan?) is here to feed me. I am getting rather hungry. My name is Salad, probably, and I think I’m a goldfish. I’m definitely some kind of fish. I swim up to where I think the glass pane is and look out. I can’t see much through the grime; I don’t think Dan has cleaned yet. Something yellow flashes past and the water vibrates again. Suddenly, a hand breaks the surface, wielding a sponge. It cleans the muck from the glass and Dave’s smiling face appears in front of me.
‘There you are,’ he says fondly. ‘Are you hungry?’
He picks up a familiar, blue tub and delicately sprinkles some of the flakes over the water. I swim swiftly to the surface and suck them in eagerly. Dave continues to scrub at the glass of the tank.
‘Everything has to be perfect, Salad,’ Dan tells me happily. ‘Veronica is coming over.’
Veronica. I think I’ve heard that name before.
‘I’ve told you about her before, haven’t I?’ he says absent-mindedly. ‘I don’t suppose it would matter if I had. You are only a fish.’
I slowly float down the tank, following the few flakes that I had missed and began gulping at the gravel that lay unevenly along the bottom. They must be around here somewhere.
Dan begins to hum as he sprays cleaning fluid over the counter and fills a bucket of water to mop with. I am quite happy to listen to him until he gets out the hoover. That awful contraption is not easily forgotten. The noise it makes frightens the scales off me. I go to hide inside my house where it’s dark and safe, and no one can see me, but once I’m inside I feel something round and hard pressing against my side. I shift slightly to let some light shine inside and see a little snail stuck to the wall. I remember that this is the risk-taking snail. It always tries to escape from the tank, but Dan always catches it. It is a lot braver than the midnight snail, who only appears at night when it thinks no one can see it. Actually, this could be the midnight snail and I’ve found one of its hiding places. If that’s the case, then where is the risk-taking snail? I am suddenly gripped by worry for the snail and consider going to look for it, but the hoover is still going and I am still scared. I am not a risk-taking fish.
At last, Dave is done with the hoover and he puts it away in its evil lair before pulling on some yellow rubber gloves to do the washing up. I peek tentatively through the door of my house and float cautiously out of it. What was I doing? Was I looking for something? Oh, that’s right, I was looking for the risk-taking snail. I swim all around the tank, scanning all four glass walls from the bottom up, and I find it near the surface. Its shell had not yet been exposed to the air, so I suck on it in an attempt to pull it off, but its suction powers are stronger than mine. Unperturbed by my interruption, it continues to inch towards the dry atmosphere. I swim back to face Dave and try to catch his attention, but then someone knocks on the door. It is a sharp knock, full of purpose, but it is also cold and I remember that I do not like whoever this knock belongs to. I sink out of sight.
Dan is delighted by the knock, however, and hurriedly pulls off the gloves, shoving them away before rushing to the door. He opens it and a tall woman dressed in a tailored black dress sweeps in. Her immaculately dyed, blonde hair, reflects light, making it appear brighter than it is. She takes off her sunglasses and scans the room haughtily.
‘Hello, Veronica,’ Dan smiles, his voice quivering slightly.
‘Good afternoon,’ she replies vaguely, not bothering to even look at him. She places her shiny, red handbag on the freshly-cleaned counter.
‘How are you, today?’ Dan asks nervously.
‘I am well, and yourself?’
He doesn’t answer, nodding his head instead. Veronica leans against the counter and starts tapping her manicured nails against the counter impatiently. Out of the corner of my eye, I see the risk-taking snail let go of the side of the tank, it having decided that facing Veronica was too big of a risk.
‘Can I get you anything to drink?’ asks Dave, rubbing his hands together shakily.
‘No, thank you, Daniel.’
‘Yes, that’s what I said.’
They stay locked in the same position for a long while, Dan fidgeting nervously, and Veronica examining her nails lazily. I take the opportunity to swim up to her while her back is turned and get a better look at her. I have definitely seen her before, but I just can’t put my fin on it. Suddenly, she turns gracefully and stares me full in the face.
‘How sweet,’ she says, though I doubt she means it at all. ‘He has one gold eye.’
‘The better to see you with,’ Dave jokes feebly.
‘You must tell me his name,’ she continues, as if he hadn’t spoken.
‘Well, his name’s Salad.’
‘What on Earth kind of a name is that?’ she asks brightly, in an attempt at charm.
Dan falls for it, hook, line, and sinker. He blushes lightly.
‘He reminded me of fish and chips, but I thought he would prefer to be healthier, like a salad,’ he mumbles.
‘How positively adorable,’ she smiles, turning back to face him. He blushes even more and she moves closer to him. She lightly trails a hand down his chest and then pulls him in for a kiss. He gasps but doesn’t pull away and she guides him carefully back towards the counter. They continue to kiss and I start getting annoyed. What does a fish have to do to get some food around here?
Veronica held Dave closely with one hand and slowly pulls her bag towards her with the other. Then, without warning, she shoves her hand into it and draws out a nasty looking knife. Quick as a flash, she pushes Dan away from her and slides it aggressively into his chest, right between two ribs and into his lung. He coughs and pulls at it weakly, looking at Veronica with an expression of confusion and hurt, before falling heavily to the floor. Veronica tuts in annoyance, kicking him away from her expensive shoes. She yanks the knife out and wipes it on Dan’s jumper, then puts it away in her bag. She turns to look at me again. She smiles her first true smile and dips her bloody fingers in my water, the crimson drops swirling around in the tank, turning the water from clear, to a light shade of pink. Once she’s gotten the blood off and dried her hands on her skirt, she taps the side of her nose.
‘Let’s just keep this one between us, eh, Salad?’
She laughs maniacally, walking around the kitchen to a painting on the opposite wall. She moves it aside to reveal a small, silver safe set in the wall. I swear that had never been there before. She taps in the passcode and opens it, stopping for a second to savour the sight in front of her. The safe is stuffed full of notes that Dave had been saving. I think he wanted to go scuba diving to meet more fish. Moving all of the money from inside efficiently into her bag, Veronica kicks at Dan again on the way out and closes the door gently behind her.
It’s getting dark outside now and I can’t see anything beyond my tank. That’s all right though, because that means that nothing can see me either. Vibrations ripple through the water and the door slams open. Maybe Dave (or Dan?) is here to feed me. I am getting rather hungry.