Some years ago, in 1969 to be exact, I wrote this story. 4 months after the story had been written my first son was born. I was tidying up some old papers in the cellar and this story came to my hands so I though I would write it down again. At the time of writing the story we still spoke Engllish at home, so although not perfect, my English did not have the German touch that it has today. I would also add that I am not a fish expert, but just used my imagination. Many fishy eating habits may not be biologically correct, as well as the whole fish world that I have described. I just had fun writing it.
Chapter I – The Big Escape
Once upon a time there was a goldfish called Rocky who lived in a big tank filled with other fish, but his best friend was Twit, the water snail. Twit never had any problems. All he had to do was to keep the tank clean with the other water snails who also lived there. Rocky was glad he had a friend like Twit, because Rocky was a very untidy fish. He was always disarranging the waterweed and making messy holes in the sand at the bottom of the tank. The other fish did not like Rocky because of his untidiness and often used to argue with him about it. Geoffrey, the angel fish, was particularly annoyed.
“Here am I” he used to say, “the prettiest fish in the tank, but Rocky spends all his time making the tank so untidy that it just spoils my beautiful appearance.”
And then he would swim off full of his own self-importance.
“And that’s not the worse”, said Fred the catfish “he messes up the water weed so much that I can’t see out of the glass. Goodness knows it’s bad enough swimming round and round in the same tank all the time, but it doesn’t improve matters when I can’t even see what the humans are doing outside.”
Rocky used to get very unhappy about this situation, but there was nothing he could do. He asked Twit for some advice on this unpleasant state of affairs, but Twit could not help very much.
“You see Rocky” he said in his squeaky high-pitched voice, “my body is built for keeping things clean. Even if I wanted to be messy, I couldn’t. But you are a goldfish and in your case it’s completely psychological. You have to want to be tidy before you can be.”
“But I do try” said Rocky, “it’s just that I never seem to have time as I am always too tired. You know I always have to be on my toes in this place. Most of my concentration is taken up with making sure that I get to the top of the aquarium in time when we are fed or that greedy catfish always eats the lot. And I have to get a good nights sleep of at least ten hours to stop myself becoming giddy going round and round all the time in this awful tank.”
“I think I know the answer to your problem Rocky” said Twit, “but I don’t know whether you will be able to manage it or not. I think what you need is a change of scenery and water and the quicker the better. The best thing for you to do would be to leave the tank for a few water changes and then return once again. I am sure that would do you the world of good.”
“That’s all very well to say” said Rocky, “but you know how difficult it is and don’t forget there were other fish living here that have had big ideas about escape. Remember Blob, the rainbow fish. He decided that we weren’t good enough for him. He was always talking about his noble ancestors and he decided to leave us. He went about twenty water changes ago and never came back. I heard from Geoffrey that he got stuck in the water pipe and just dried up.”
“What a terrible death” said Twit. “But really in your case I think it’s the only answer. Your know” he continued, “the other fish won’t have much more patience with you and there will be trouble quite soon. Fred is slowly loosing his temper and you know what those catfish can be like in a nasty mood.”
“I suppose you are right Twit”, Rocky answered. “I shall make my escape attempt at the next water change” and he then began to mentally prepare himself for the Big Escape.
The day of the next water change came. All the fish became excited because their sense of perception told them that today was the day. Rocky was especially nervous and had not spoken to a single fish all day. Even Twit had difficulty getting him to talk. Twit would have liked to have been able to escape with Rocky, but for a water snail it was impossible. You see, there was only one way to make an escape. All the fish were put into a big sink whilst the tank was being cleaned and fresh water being put in. The hole at the bottom of the sink was naturally blocked, but there still remained the overflow exit at the top of the sink. Of course, there was never that much water in the sink for the fish to be able to swim out, but some of the fish were clever enough to be able to jump up and reach the overflow opening. By this method they believed they could reach the outside world where the big waters of their dreams were.
Rocky had never had dreams about the big waters. He was born in a fish tank and had always lived there. His father often used to tell him of the open seas where the big fish lived and where there was always enough food. There was then no need to wait for a pinch of ants eggs every three days, which was all that could be expected from the humans. As a young fish Rocky used to listen intently to his father and used to imagine what it was like, but as he had never experienced it himself, he was not all that worried. But now he knew that all this time he must have been subconsciously suffering from claustrophobia and Twit had made him realise this.
Rocky naturally felt a bit sad about leaving Twit behind, but he knew that the water snail would never be happy in a big wide open sea. After all, water snails were only needed in a tank (so he thought). In the sea their purpose would be lost. Twit had often told Rocky of the water snails he had met in the tank which had come from the outside world. Most of them were in such a nervous state when they arrived that it was at least four water changes before they could start thinking about keeping the water in the tank clean. This always annoyed Twit, because it meant that he had to work twice as fast to do his job properly.
Eventually the time came. The big tank was emptied into the sink and the fish were glad to be swimming free instead of confined in four glass walls. The sink was spacious and airy and its sides were smooth and cool. Twit clung onto a piece of waterweed as he was swept out of the tank and remained clinging to it whilst in the sink. He did not like the sides of the sink as it was too cold for his sucker and always gave him shocking rheumatism after returning to the tank. Once he got it so bad it put him out of action for a whole water change. Rocky was in the corner of the sink preparing himself for the big leap. He was lucky this time as the water in the sink was higher and the distance to jump was not so far.
“Go on Rocky” Twit said, “now’s your chance. 1, 2, 3 and you’re there.”
“O.K.” said Rocky, “here goes. Thanks for everything Twit, I’ll never forget all you have done for me.”
“Don’t mention it” Twit replied, “I will miss you, but I think this is really what you need. If you ever come back, then I am sure you will be a much tidier and cleaner fish.”
“I hope so” said Rocky and they were the last words he said to Twit because then he jumped.
Although Rocky had prepared himself for his flight through the air, he was not quite ready for the feeling of suffocation he got once out of the water. His gills felt as it they would drop off, but he managed to leap through the overflow exit and then had a feeling of falling, falling, falling …… Rocky became unconcious.
Chapter II – The Road to Freedom
Eric the eel was swimming quite calmly and peacefully in the sewage reservoir, wondering where to go next. He had been swept in from the river up the main sewer and decided that he had had enough of the sewage centre. There was not much to eat and he did not like the company. He hated being amongst water slugs as they always made him feel dirty and he could not take his daily bath in this sewer. He also thought the water smelt and in any case it was about time he returned to his wife Daphne, as it was close approaching the Summer holiday season and they should begin preparing for their annual trip to the Sargasso Sea, which is where they went every year to meet their friends. All of a sudden Eric saw something orange and still laying at the bottom of the water next to a stone.
“That’s a colourful looking object” he thought to himself and decided to have a closer look. “Why, it’s a fish” he said and gave it a prod with his blunt nose. “Hey you, wake up, it isn’t time for sleeping yet.”
Rocky felt a slight bump over his gills and opened his mouth and eyes. It was quite dark in the sewage depot and it took him some time to get used to it there. He finally made out the outlines of the eel and felt a bit worried as he had never seen anything quite like an eel before in his tank.
“W-W-Wh-Who are you?” said Rocky, shivering half in fright and half with cold.
“I’m Eric, an eel, but you don’t have to worry about me. I used to eat fish like you, but I’m getting a bit old in the tooth now and can’t manage the bones anymore. Anyhow you don’t look all that inviting at the moment. Not much flesh on you. Where have you been and what have they been feeding you on. You look half starved.”
Rocky told the eel where he had come from and when he told Eric of his diet of ants eggs, Eric became noticeably pale under his shiny black coat.
“You poor fish” said Eric in his deep eel-like voice, “those humans are just about the end. Ants eggs are for shrimps, not for growing goldfish. I don’t blame you for escaping. What are your future plans?.”
“I havn’t yet decided” replied Rocky, “that is, I don’t know” he emphasised. “I don’t even know where I am and I don’t like this place very much, it’s too dark and creepy” and he started to cry, as well as a fish could.
“There, there” said Eric, “don’t cry little one, I’ll look after you. I’m planning to leave this place anyhow” said Eric. “I don’t like it here, it’s much too unsociable and I am beginning to miss the wife, she gets worried when I’m so long away from home. Tell you what, Rocky, I say, don’t mind me calling you that do you?” – he carried on without waiting for an answer – “you can come part of the way with me, but when we get to the open river, you will have to leave me. It looks a bit bad for a grown up eel to be seen with a goldfish. Spoils the image and all that.”
Rocky was still a bit frightened of this new companion, but would do almost anything to get out of this smelly sewage place and gratefully accepted Eric’s offer. He dried his eyes on a bit of orange peel that floated by and shook his tail a bit. This freshened him up and they set off together, side by side. At least Rocky was at the side of Eric’s tail end as Eric was so long compared to the little goldfish. The sewage farm led into a conduit which, although narrow by human standards, was big enough by fish and eel standards and the both of them swam contentedly onwards. Rocky was still a bit pessimistic about the future.
“If this is an example of the wonderful outside word” he thought, “I was better off in the tank, at least I could see something through the windows.”
“Are you O.K. there little one” Eric asked.
“Yes, thank you Mr. Eel” Rocky politely replied.
“Oh, you can call me Eric, all my friends do.”
“Thank you Eric” Rocky replied.
“I wish Twit could be with me” Rocky thought, “he’ll never believe it whan I tell him what my first friend looked like.”
As they were going along it seemed to be getting a bit lighter and there was more space. Rocky caught up with Eric’s head.
“Where are we now Eric” he asked.
“Oh, it’s not far now” was the answer. “I’m afraid we shall soon have to part company, but I can give you some advice before we go our separate ways. Always keep your tail straight and you can’t go wrong. And never make friends with a thin eel. He would make a nice midday meal from the gills. Now here we are at the entrance to the river. I have to make my fairwell now. I wish you the best of luck Rocky and don’t forget, the river isn’t always that friendly.”
Rocky was just about to ask what a “river” was and Eric disappeared.
Rocky found himself quite alone blinking in the sudden strong light which had appeared. The water also felt slightly warmer and fresher. Here it was nice. Perhaps this was the “river” that Eric kept talking about. Rocky decided that he liked the “river” and began swimming about a bit to get the feel of it. The bottom of the river was not sandy as the tank had been, but stony. Rocky liked this, as the stones contained tiny crevices into which he could push his nose seeking out a juicy water flea here and there. Rocky had not eaten since early that morning and was starving. He had never eaten a water flea before but decided he quite liked them, much better than ants eggs. Another nice thing about the “river” was that he did not have to swim in circles all the time. He found that the headache he had had for the past few water changes in the tank had disappeared completely and he felt fresher and a much cleaner fish than he had for a long time.
“I knew Twit was right” he thought. “It’s a shame I’ll never be able to thank him properly for all his help and advice.”
Already Rocky had forgotten about returning to the tank, here he had found at last true happiness and peace.
Chapter III – A New World
Rocky was swimming peacefully along the river bed enjoying his new surroundings. Although he was still quite new to the river, he had already decided in his own mind that here he was much happier than in the aquarium with the other argumentative fish. Here in the river everyone kept themselves to themselves and did not bother with other fish’s business. That is, as far as Rocky knew. He had not actually met that many other fish so far and had definitely not spoken to a fish since his meeting with Eric the eel. Rocky was not basically a shy fish as he still had his youthful curiousity, so he was beginning to feel like having a conversation with somebody.
Rocky suddenly saw something flash through a patch of waterweed and decided to go over and investigate. What he found was rather unexpected. There was a creature there which rather resembled his friend Eric but it seemed to have the beginnings of arms and had a complete pair of legs on the sides of its long blunt body. It was not as big as Eric, even smaller than Rocky and it was swimming around on the surface of the water.
“Well” thought rocky, “I have to begin being sociable with my new neighbours at some time or another, so I may as well choose this strange looking creature for my first conversation. He looks a bit like a small version of Eric and Eric was quite friendly so I expect this fish is a well. But perhaps it’s one of the thin eels that Eric told me to be careful of. Oh, well I suppose I had better ask.”
Rocky approached the creature which was now lying on its back wiggloing the funny little stubs it had on both sides of its body.
“Excuse me” Rocky said to it, “but are you an eel?”
The creature turned and looked in Rocky’s direction. At least the eyes moved towards Rocky, but they were a bit difficult to see as they were quite small and set towards the back of the head.
“I beg your pardon” was the indignant reply from the fish-like object. “Am I an eel? Do I look like one of those repulsive creatures? How dare you insult me.”
“I am terribly sorry sir” said Rocky apologetically, “but I am quite new here and havn’t met any fish so far, only an eel and I thought you may be an eel as well.”
“Well, as you seem to have only just arrived, then I shall forgive you this time, but you may as well know that I am definitely not an eel and absolutely not a fish. My name is Terrance and I am a tadpole.””
How do you do Mr. Tadpole” said Rocky politely.
“How do you do” said the tadpole rather stiffly and they both wiggled their tails, which is the fishy way of shaking hands.
“Actually,” continued the tadpole “I’m still quite young you know. When I am older I shall be leaving this wet place for land.”
“What’s land?” asked Rocky.
“Land! Why you are young aren’t you” said the tadpole.
“I’m at least forty water changes old” said Rocky indignantly.
“Well I don’t know what a water change is” replied the tadpole, “but you must be quite an inexperienced fish if you don’t yet know what land is. Land is where I will go when my arms and legs develop like my father and mother’s have. Then I will be a lovely shade of green and nice and slimy.”
“Oh, I see” said Rocky, still a bit confused. “Is everyone on “land” green and slimy?” he asked.
“Oh, no” replied the tadpole, “only us frogs”.
“But you’re a tadpole, not a frog” said Rocky.
“But I will be a frog eventually like my mum and dad” emphasised the tadpole “and now please go away little fish and don’t ask me any more silly questions or I shall quite lose my temper. I havn’t got time to talk to a stupid fish all day long, there are other important things to do. I’m a growing tadpole and need plenty of food to keep me fit. Now please go away and don’t bother me any more.”
“Yes sir” said Rocky and turned away from the tadpole to go further on his way.
Rocky was feeling quite sad now. It seemed that no-one could be bothered with a goldfish in the river and he was beginning to miss Twit and even the other fish in the aquarium. Even if they were always shouting at him, at least they would talk to him. Here in the river he had no-one to talk to and was quite lonely.
“Hello then, what have we here” boomed a deep voice behind Rocky’s tail.
Rocky was quite startled by this intrusion into his train of thought and turned quickly round to see who was talking to him. He was amazed to find an enormous fish, bigger than anything he had ever seen in the tank, indeed this fish would probably have difficulty fitting into the aquarium.
“You are a pretty fish” said the big fish “and what a lovely appetising colour your coat is” he carried on.
Rocky took a closer look at the fish as it was speaking and was quite astonised at the size of the fish’s mouth. Rocky decided it was about time he said something as he knew it was rude to stare.
“I’m a goldfish” said Rocky.
“I thought you were” said the big fish, “I’ve met your type before, but unfortunately I have never been able to get to know them very well.”
“Why is that?” asked Rocky.
“Because I eat them” said the big fish and he made a quick dart at Rocky, but luckily Rocky was still young and quick with his fins and managed to swim out of reach and hide behind a stone.
The big fish, because of his size, was quite clumsy and was not able to reach Rocky, but unfortunately Rocky was trapped. He could not move from behind the stone as the big fish would then seize the opportunity to eat Rocky for his dinner.
“Where are you, you devil” called the big fish. “You wait till I catch you, then I shall make a meal of you.”
“Oh dear” thought Rocky, “now I am in trouble. Oh, why couldn’t I be a clean and tidy fish like the others in the tank, then I wouldn’t have had to leave and come to this place. All that happened to me today is trouble. First a rude conversation with Terrance the tadpole and now this big fish that wants me for this next meal.”
From where Rocky was hiding he could see the big fish quite clearly through a crack in the stone. He also saw something move quickly behind the fish’s tail and suddenly the big fish screamed and turned round. Rocky then saw that there was another fish in the water, about the same size as Rocky, but silver instead of gold, and this fish had neatly bitten into the tail of the big fish.
The big fish had now recovered from his shock to a certain extent and was more angry than ever. He could not decide whether he ought to chase the silver fish or whether to wait for Rocky to come out from behind the stone. He decided that the pain in his tail was worse than the hunger pains in his stomach and began following the silver fish.
Rocky was too astonished at the turn of events to move, but the silver fish shouted out to him to take the opportunity to come out from behind the stone and to escape.
“But what about you?” called Rocky.
“That’s O.K. answered the silver fish, “I can look after myself.”
So Rocky made his way out from the hiding place, but being a brave goldfish he could not let his unknown helper be eaten alive by the big fish so he also gave chase and when he caught up he bit the big fish’s tail, as he had seen the silver fish do it.
“Why, you two squirts” said the big fish “you wait till I get you both, I’ll make you into minced fish”.
“Oh no, you won’t Mr. Trout” called out the silver fish “because you have to catch us first”.
He then called to Rocky to follow him which Rocky did and the silver fish led him through a crevice in between two large stones which the big fish, a trout, as Rocky had now learnt from his rescuer, could not get through because of his size. The tunnel between the stones led to an opening at the bed of the river and both of them paused to get their breath back after the chase they had just had.
“I’m quite out of breath” said the silver fish “it’s ages since I have had so much exercise. Didn’t your parents ever tell you not to speak to a trout in the river” he continued.
“I don’t come from the river” said Rocky “I come from an aquarium and managed to escape, but I think I would prefer to go back if all the fish are as unsociable as the last one I just met.”
“Oh, we are not all like that” said the silver fish. “The trout is getting a bit old in the tooth now, but I can remember the time when no fish escaped from him if he was hungry. Anyhow you don’t have to worry about him any more.”
“Yes, I know” said Rocky “thanks very much, you saved my life.”
“Oh, it was nothing” said the silver fish “but don’t forget to be a bit more careful the next time.”
“Yes, I will” said Rocky.
“My name is Rodney, by the way” said the silver fish. “Who are you?”
“I’m Rocky, very pleased to meet you” and they wiggled their tails.
“What sort of a fish are you?” asked Rocky.
“I’m just a tiddler now” said Rodney, “but one day I’ll grow up to be big and strong like the trout, then I’ll be a roach which is a member of the famous carp family. Great grandfather carp was quite famous in this river, he was quite a chap for the ladies, but not me. I’m the footloose and fancy free type. I havn’t got time for settling down. What about you?”
“I can’t say, I have never thought much about it” answered Rocky, “I havn’t had much time lately.”
“Tell you what” said Rodney, “you seem to be a lad after my own heart and you have a lot to learn in the river. What about keeping me company for a while? I can teach you a lot and it gets quite lonely on my own sometimes.”
“Thank you for the offer” said Rocky, “I am very pleased to have met you and I am sure we will have a fine time together.”
“Well for a start” said Rodney, “let’s swim a bit down stream and I’ll show you around” and they both swam off down the river and disappeared into the waterweed.
Chapter IV – Twit
Meanwhile back in the aquarium Twit was feeling lonely. The other fish never bothered to speak to him as they considered a water snail to be too low a creature for them to speak to. After all, everyone knew that water snails had no intelligence of their own and one could not get a sensible conversation out of them. But naturally this was not true, water snails are very intelligent animals and very clever. Twit missed Rocky very much and wanted to see him again, but he realised that Rocky would never be able to return to the tank. Twit began pining for his friend to such an extent that he could not keep the tank properly clean any more and could just not concentrate on his work.
Eventually the humans began noticing how the water in the tank was getting dirtier and dirtier quicker than it usually did and it meant that the water had to be changed more often. Basically humans are lazy creatures and did not enjoy working any more than they had to, so they decided to find out the cause of the dirtiness in the tank and remove it. It did not take them long to decide that Twit was not doing his work properly and so they put some other water snails in the tank.
It thus happened that one day Twit was clinging to the side of the tank with his sucker when he was suddenly pulled out and dropped into the sink.
“But this isn’t a water change day” thought twit quickly to himself. “What’s happening, there’s not even any water in the sink” and all of a sudden the big tap in the sink was turned on and Twit was washed down the plug hole through the long water pipe.
Chapter V – A Surprise for Everyone
Rocky and his new friend Rodney were enjoying themselves playing hide and seek amongst the waterweed in the river. It was a nice day and the sun shone through the waterweed reflecting a lovely green glow throughout the water.
“It’s your turn now to go and hide Rodney” said Rocky.
“I’m getting fed up with this game” said Rodney, “let’s go hunting. I’m hungry and in any case it’s getting near dinner time.”
“O.K.” answered Rocky. “I’m agreeable, my fins have started twitching so it must be time for eating.”
“Have you ever eaten water worms?” asked Rodney. “They are very tasty.”
“No, I havn’t” answered Rocky “up to now I have only managed to find water fleas to eat and I find them quite tasty.”
“But you havn’t lived until you have eaten a water worm” said Rodney. “They are lovely and juicy, one of them provides enough to eat for a day.”
“Where do you find them Rodney?” Rocky asked.
“Unfortunately you have to work a bit harder for them. They usually live under big stones and you have to push the stone away with your nose before being able to find them. Once found, however, they are not difficult to catch. Let’s try under that big stone over there.”
Rocky swam over to the direction where Rodney was pointing and Rodney quickly followed. They combined their efforts to push away the stone with their noses. After some time it began moving slowly and suddenly the stone turned over. Both fish had to move quickly out of the way otherwise it would have crushed them. The water became dirty where the mud had been disturbed by the moving stone. However, when they returned to survey the aftermath of the operation there were about three water worms wriggling on the bed of the river.
“Follow me” said Rodney and Rodney and Rocky killed them quickly and began eating.
“Why, they’re delicious” said Rocky, “I didn’t know such nice food existed.”
“It’s my favourite meal” said Rodney, “but don’t eat them too quickly or they will give you indigestion.”
After their feast the two fish decided to have a short nap to enable their food to get properly digested.
So life went on for Rocky. He continued learning new things every day from Rodney until the river held no more secrets from him and he felt quite at home. Now and again his mind would go back to the old times in the aquarium, but that was so long ago now, that he had almost forgotten, almost.
One day he was swimming along on his own, as Rodney was away doing his training for becoming a grown up roach with the carp regiment, when he heard the sound of someone crying. It was such a sad sound that he felt he had to investigate to see what was wrong. He moved quietly through the water in the direction of the sound in case there was danger lurking around anywhere and eventually came to a clearing in the waterweed. There in the middle was another fish, something like Rocky, but a bit smaller. This other goldfish was crying its eyes out and looked very miserable and sad.
Rocky was amazed. It was the first time he had seen another goldfish in the river and he had certainly never seen such a beautiful goldfish in all his life. He had grown up quite a lot since leaving the tank and had got a lot older and wiser, but he was still not prepared for this sort of surprise, as it was the first female goldfish he had seen.
“I suppose I had better see what’s wrong” thought Rocky, so he swam over to the female fish.
“Can I help you?” asked Rocky.
The other fish turned round started, but when she saw it was another goldfish her big round eyes lost their frightened look.
“You startled me” she said, “I thought it was “them” still after me”.
“Won’t you tell me what’s wrong?” asked Rocky.
“I’m so miserable” she answered “and I have had such a terrible shock it nearly made my gold turn yellow.”
“Oh no” said Rocky “your coat is a beautiful colour if I may say so.”
“Thank you” said the female goldfish and she blushed quite obviously underneath her gold coat, giving it a lovely reddish glow. “If you are really that interested” she continued, “I will tell you what has happened.”
“Please do” said Rocky “I may be able to help.”
“It all started some time ago. You see I don’t come from the river, but I come originally from an aquarium, but one day the aquarium broke and all the water flowed away so one of the humans picked me up and put me in the sink, but I got washed down it and eventually arrived in the river.”
“Well” said Rocky, “something like that happened to me too, but I was glad to escape from the tank and now I’m quite happy here.”
“I was too” she said “but something terrible has just happened and I just feel so miserable. This morning after waking up I felt hungry and all of a sudden I saw a nice juicy worm at the top of the water. I hadn’t been able to find a decent meal all week so you can imagine how hungry I felt and I grabbed it. Suddenly I felt something underneath me and I was being lifted out of the water. Just imagine, being taken out of the water. It was just like when the tank broke, but worse.”
“You poor thing” said rocky sympathetically. “Do go on.”
“I discovered that I was being lifted out in a sort of net, but luckily the holes were big enough to escape through, so I managed to swim out just before being lifted completely out of the water, but then this net started following me all along the river. I tell you I had to swim for my life before being able to find a stone big enough to hide under. I stayed there for at least a whole half sun rise until I thought it was safe enough to come out. Eventually I found this clearing here amongst the waterweed and when you appeared I thought they were coming after me again. I am sure it’s the humans you know, I heard their deep voices above the water as I was being taken out.”
“How awful” said Rocky “you can’t trust anyone these days.”
“And now” continued the female fish “I have just about had enough of this river. I havn’t spoken to anybody since coming here, but you and I feel so lonely and miserable” and she started crying once again.
“There, there” said Rocky and put his fin around her. “Don’t cry anymore it spoils your wonderful fishy looks.”
“You are the nicest person I have met since coming to the river” she said “What’s your name.”
“I’m Rocky” he said “May I ask yours?”
“Of course”, she replied, “I’m Esmerelda.”
“Well, Esmerelda, I tell you what, dry your eyes and we’ll go for a swim together”.
“Oh yes” answered Esmerelda, “I would enjoy that very much” and they both swam off together fin in fin.
That was the first of many swims that Rocky and Esmerelda had together and they were very happy in each other’s company.
When Rodney returned from his military training, he was not surprised to find that Rocky had a girlfriend. After all Rodney realised that Rocky, although a good friend, was not like himself and was the sort who should settle down with someone. In any case Rodney had been promoted this time whilst in the army and was now becoming roach of the first grade, which meant he would anyhow have to part company with Rocky, but the two fish still remained good friends and always wiggled tails when they met by chance in the river.
Eventually Rocky asked Esmerelda to marry him and Esmerelda accepted, so they began looking for somewhere to live. They eventually found a nice spot in the river, but it needed cleaning quite a bit before being habitable. This mean a lot of work for them both, but then something happened.
One day Rocky was hunting for worms for him and Esmerelda when he turned over a big stone (he was now a big strong goldfish and could turn over stones on his own). Underneath was not the river worm he expected to find, but who do you think? Why there was Twit, his old friend, the water snail.
“Twit, what are you doing here” asked Rocky.
“Rocky, why you’re still alive” said Twit, “I am glad to see you.”
Then Twit explained about being not wanted in the aquarium and told Rocky about being swept down the sink through the sewer to the river, where he had been ever since, looking for something useful to do and getting more and more miserable all the time.
Rocky then told Twit of his plans on getting married.
“Do come and meet Esmerelda” said Rocky “I am sure you will like her.””
O.K.” said Twit, “but I don’t know what she’ll think of a poor old unwanted out-of-work water snail like me, who is no good at his job any more.”
“Now come on Twit” said Rocky, “you know that’s just not true, why in a couple of sunrises you will be your old self.”
Esmerelda, being a very nice goldfish, naturally took to Twit straight away and had a wonderful idea, which she discussed with Rocky. Then they both approached Twit.
“I say Twit” said Rocky “Esmerelda and I have been talking it over and we have found somewhere to live, but it’s going to be a lot of work to keep it clean. What I mean to say is that we may need someone, that is, Oh Twit will you come and be our sort of cleaning help. I mean you are so good at it and it would be nice if you would accept.”
Twit could not believe his ears, at last something worth doing, what he was meant to do, a purpose in his little lost life. He accepted.
Now if you ever happen to be walking by the river on a lovely Sunday afternoon and see a family of goldfish swimming along accompanied by a family of water snails (Twit was not so old after all) then you will know who they are.
14th May, 1969
A further note: As you can see this was written in 1969, more than forty years ago. I have not reread this or done any corrections, it is just as I wrote it at the time