Fake French Fish

by Teresa Stenson

She’s getting herself ready to go out with The Fish. I’ve seen them, acting like they’ve known each other for years. They’ll probably go to a posh restaurant. He’ll choose the wine with his French accent. He’s not even French! Not that she, or anyone else in this cul-de-sac, has noticed. They can’t see past the plate spinning, which, apparently, is part of a ‘front’ he puts on in public.

He’s actually very vulnerable,’ she says, applying red lipstick. Red!

‘Why you wearing that?’

‘So I can’t look nice now? It’s for me, George. I’ve told you, Christophe is my friend.’

‘Why can’t I come along?’

‘Because you’ll make him uncomfortable.’

‘Should be uncomfortable, all this air. Should be dead, biologically.’

‘Very nice, George. Accepting. How very accepting.’

It’s not just her – somehow he’s charmed the entire cul-de-sac. They’re all, ‘Oh, a fish with legs – he’s an evolutionary marvel.’

Oh, a fish walking out of water – basic! Nothing marvellous about it.

‘I don’t trust him. What kind of fish is he anyway?’

‘I think that is a very personal question and I for one will not subject him to such scrutiny.’ She blots her lipstick and tissue sticks to her bottom lip. Ha.

A car pulls up outside. ‘Honk, honk, he’s here!’ she yells, grabbing her handbag. I follow her to the door.

George, don’t be embarrassing.’

I’m waving you off.’

‘No you’re not.’

‘Yes I am.’

‘You dare.’

‘I do dare. I do!’ I say the ‘I do’ loudly, hoping it’ll remind her of our long ago vows. It doesn’t, and she leaves, pulling the door quickly behind her.

I run to the drive and shout, ‘It won’t be as easy as you think, Fake French Fish, to steal my wife!’

They zoom away in his open-top sports car, heads thrown back in laughter.

I remember the tissue-lip. ‘Ha’ I shout in her direction, even though she has gone.

– Teresa Stenson’s short stories have been placed in several international writing competitions including The Bridport Prize, The Willesden Herald and The Guardian Summer Reads. She is in the process of putting a collection of her stories together and can be found at www.teresa-stenson.blogspot.com.


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