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Byron Shire
June 16, 2024

S Sorrensen’s Here & Now: Something fishy

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Image S Sorensen
Image S Sorensen

S Sorrensen

Under the cliffs, at the end of the world.

Look, these are strange times. There are ominous signs.

The goldfish died this week.

Actually, I don’t even know if they died. They just disappeared. Four of them. One day after I put them in the garden pond, there was no trace of them. It was like Twilight Zone. Do-do, do-do, do-do…

These were fish I saved from a Murwillumbah aquarium. These were fish that had never seen sunlight or dead leaves or water spiders. Cruel. You can’t keep a living soul in a small confine, deprived of freedom, separate from the real world. That’s no life. Who would do that?

So I rescued them. I bought their freedom from a fish trafficker for $2.50 a head. I was their Moses leading them from a chlorinated slavery to the Promised Pond.

Once they reached their carpy Canaan – after a bumpy 40 minutes on the back seat of the Superoo – I observed the appropriate ritual: I floated the plastic bag of fish in the pond water to even the temperatures before releasing. Very Important. Or the fish die. Once that was done, I opened the bag so the four little refugees could access the waters of liberation. Which they did. And they seemed happy.

I mean, I can’t tell if a fish is smiling, and they didn’t do high fives as they swam into the freedom of a sunken bath in the garden, but none went belly-up right away. That’s a good sign, right? Yeah, I looked upon my good work and was well pleased.

Next morning, I arrived at the pond, manna flakes in hand, ready to feed my finny friends. But they were… gone. No bodies, no muddied water, no surrounding scuffle marks, no knocked-over buddha statue. Just gone. Weird.

Was it an abduction by aliens who wanted Earthfish for their spaceship’s aquarium?

Or was it the Fish Rapture and the fish were raised heavenwards to be judged by the Godfish. The righteous fish would swim with the Angelfish, and the sinful would be cast back to Earth.

Last time the goldfish disappeared, it was a goanna that got them. The pond was momentarily left uncovered and exposed. (Okay, my fault.) And the goanna exploited the situation. Sad for the fish, but not weird. That’s what goannas do.

But it wasn’t a goanna this time. I know this. Because there are no goannas.

I told you there are ominous signs. Cane toads have invaded this valley. The goannas, which once roamed this land like dinosaur kings (and queens), couldn’t help but eat these ugly morsels (goannas are not fussy eaters) and… well, you know what happens when you eat a toad.

Despite my evening hunts with torch and super-sharp traditional Japanese toad sword, these invaders, being more numerous than me, won the battle and the goannas died. Scrub turkeys (not keen on toad meat) took the goannas’ place as the kings (and queens) of my yard.

That was the beginning of the End Times. Scrub turkeys fly into fruit trees, break branches, drop fruit. They scratch mulch from the gardens. They come onto the verandah to dig in the parsley pot and poo on the jarrah.

Did a scrub turkey take the fish?

I don’t think so.

I’m sitting on the roof of my shack under the cliffs. I’ve been cleaning leaves out of the gutters. And guess what I found on the roof?

Yes. One dead goldfish.

Obviously, the aliens didn’t leave the bag of abductees in the new water long enough to even the temperatures.

Or, it was a sinful fish, cast down from the Heavenly Waterhole by the Godfish.

These are strange times. Do-do, do-do, do-do…



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