They whisper in my ear "Flying fish." Each parrot had one of my ears. Left Right. "Flying fish sing." Said Left. I believe him he is a full ten years older then me.
"This fish will cost you." The man was small with a feral nose and a sneer he did not seem to be aware of. He can sing all of Andrew Llyod Weber's greatest hits.
"Even Cats?" I had to ask.
"Especially Cats." Bubbles surface at the top of the tank. Left and Right peer over the lid. "If you put your ear nice and close you should be able to hear him now." I step back.
"I do that he'll snap off half my face before the first aria."
"No fool you are." The man's voice is low and disappointed. Right and Left cluck. "You going to take him or not?" The funeral is in less then an hour.
"What shall I give you?"
"That is never going to happen."
"The first and the last five minutes of your life and an invitation."
"For whatever you are bringing the mourning fish to." Left fidgets. Right begins a whistle. I nod. Right and Left both remove a flight feather. I hand them to the man careful to keep my reach away from the mourning fish's tank.
"These should work. I expect the fish delivered."
"At much peril to myself and mine."
"That is not my concern." I leave him twisting two feathers between his thumb and finger.
It was a fine day for a dark task. The mausoleum is large and shockingly empty. Empty but for the body pale under the white sun. The body, the fish, two parrots, and a man recently alone in the world.
The water shakes and the fishes head breaks the water. It starts, Memories. Left and Right sway and shuffle. His toes should be tapping. All alone in the moonlight.
It is my good by. It is his. We do not stay to see the fish take it's price.
Story and photo by Monica Michellle
inspiration Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer