Animal Magic

On a nightstand the clock radio flipped a digit. Grace sat on the edge of bed in her underwear. She was painting her toenails best as humanly possible with her back to the bathroom light, a cigarette dangling from her lips, and two drinks down.

The fish bowl in the bathroom had an ocean floor of pink and blue gravel. Planted in the middle was a red telephone booth in miniature. Surrounding the fish bowl the sink area was littered with crumpled squeeze tubes and scented bottles — all in hygienic disarray. The goldfish had apparently seen enough and had been floating upside down since the morning.

The clock radio flipped another digit. Grace mashed out her cigarette into an overflowing dish, grabbed up the phone, and dialed.

“Hey, I know you’re not checking your messages. It doesn’t matter. I didn’t mean all that shit anyway. I just called back to say I love you is all. Is that so bad? I want us to be together, okay.” She glanced at the fish bowl in the bathroom during a moment of silence. She leaned in on the phone. “Come on, I hate this answering machine business.” She toned down the intensity a notch to give herself some headroom. “Look, I know you’re home. Pick up the damn receiver before I come over there and flush you down the toilet.”

The goldfish in the bowl came back to life and tumbled right side up. It fluttered around with wide, clear, eyes again — like magic.