Fish

 

It had been a normal day for Mary. Her alarm clock had gone off at 6:30AM as usual. Her morning routine had taken thirty minutes as usual. She had spent ten more minutes having her cup of morning coffee with no milk and two sugars, as usual. There had been no indication that this day would not be usual in any way.

Mary worked in an advertising firm in the city doing nothing particularly exciting or requiring any special talent. Her car was a small foreign model sedan, the same as thousands of other people. The one special thing she had that separated her form her friends and coworkers was her tiny house outside the city.  She had saved for years, suffered through tiny apartments, odd roommates, and eating inexpensive frozen meals to save for it. The house wasn’t large, but it was tidy, neat, and hers. After the bustle and insanity of the city, this house became her sanctuary. Everything was done in a certain way and she never had to deviate from her routines and habits.

Now, this morning, after it’s promising beginning, would become the morning that changed her life forever. It started when she stepped out the door. There, right on her brown mat with the bold black letters spelling “Welcome,” was a fish tail. Mary frowned, confused. She had no pets and from what she knew of her neighbors, no one would have done this. But, it was only a fish tail, so she got a paper towel, picked it up and deposited it neatly in the garbage bin in the garage (no need to stink up the house, after all). Mary then promptly forgot about it.

The drive to the city began as normal. There were lights, cars, loud music, and stops and starts. She tuned her radio to classical and did her best to ignore the chaos. Unfortunately, there was more chaos than usual this particular morning. A traffic accident on the main freeway had backed up traffic for miles. Annoyed, Mary considered waiting it out, but knew that she had an appointment not long after she usually arrived at work. Deciding that the appointment was important enough, Mary took the next exit in order to arrive on time. As she took a left, she saw a fish head on the side of the road. Well, she thought, at least it’s not on my front porch.

As she drove down the surface street, along with other people trying to avoid the traffic, she noticed the sky, which had been bright and promising earlier, was rapidly becoming dark. The closer she got to the city, the darker it got, until it turned a gut clenching odd green color. Mary had never seen such a sky and sent a fervent hope out that she would find shelter before the storm broke.

Of course, that didn’t happen. Not only was she still driving, the storm that broke was not your normal storm. Her first hint at its abnormality was when the fish landed on her windshield. It was a fairly large fish, with splendid silvery scales, and it hit with a sick smack, promptly spilled its guts, and Mary found herself unable to see out of her windshield. Now, no one really knows how to react when a fish hits their windshield, but Mary cried out in surprise and then applied her brakes, hit her emergency lights, and found a place to pull over.

Stepping out of her car, she found herself on the main drag of a small town. She was parked in front of an auto parts store (what a coincidence, she thought), and next to a bar called “The Usual.” She turned to look at her car and sighed. What a mess. Scales, blood, and other fish parts decorated the windshield; this simply wouldn’t do.

Mary turned to the auto-parts store to find some cleaning supplies and found someone had come out to see her.

“Good morning!” he greeted her brightly. He was tall, good looking (she supposed), and wore blue jeans and a white t-shirt. “I saw your emergency lights and though I’d come out. What seems to be – Goddamn, is that a fish?”

Mary cringed at the profanity, but nodded. “Um, yes. If you could just get some glass cleaner and a rag, I’ll get it cleaned up and be out of your hair.” Her every move and her very demeanor screamed a desire to be left alone.

“Well, I’ll be. How the hell did a fish end up on your car?” He stepped closer, peering at it.

She stepped back before answering. “Oh, well, it just fell on it.”

“No! From where?”

“Er, the sky, I imagine.” Really, she just wanted him to leave her be and where else would it fall from?!

“I’ll be damned. Never seen anything like it.” At this point he turned and smiled at her. “Must’ve scared you when it hit.”

“It certainly startled me, yes,” she replied, looking at him as if he were crazy. “Please, I’m in a bit of a hurry-”

“Now, I don’t have much that will take off fish. A new windshield I have, but you need a scraper and glass cleaner. Easy fix really.”

Was this man an idiot? Hadn’t she just said that? “Yes,” she said simply, not wanting to prolong a conversation with him by arguing.

“I’m Jack,” he said, and stuck out a grease and oil stained hand at her. Gingerly, she reached out to shake it. Ignoring her squeamishness, he grabbed her hand firmly, pumping it several times. “Let’s go find you those things and get this windshield clean.”

She followed him into the bar next door, grimacing at her oily hand. She had run out of travel tissues yesterday, so she had to deal with it for now. As Jack approached  the door, he pulled the handle, which refused to move. “Must be too early,” he muttered.

“It’s only 7:30,” she replied.

“Well, of course it is. Come on,” And then, just then, the storm broke. Rain fell so heavily she felt as if a bucket were being poured over her ehad. She couldn’t see or breath and rapidly began to panic.

“Hey now! This way, ma’am.” Jack’s greasy hand grabbed her white crisp, irioned, white shirt and pulled. She practically fell into the shelter of an awning, careening into him. “All right, then?” he asked, peering at her.

“Yes, thank you.” She wasn’t really.  Her hair was soaking and ruined, her shirt was transparent, her make-up running, and she was late.

“I don’t think this will let up soon. Why don’t you come in and have breakfast?”

Turning, Mary saw the awning they stood under belonged to a diner. “Oh, no, thank you. The rain probably got rid of the fish now. You have been very helpful, but I really need to go.” And she squared her shoulders, stepped out into the rain, and was promptly hit on the head with a fish. It bounced off, hit her shoulder, and then fell on her right foot. “Augh!” she cried in disgust, jumping back under the awning.

Jack was laughing. Loudly. “That-your face! Ha ha!” He bent over clutching his stomach. Mary felt something she had never felt before: pure rage.” She jumped at him, hitting him everywhere. Still laughing, Jack simply caught her hands. Once he stilled, he looked at her flashing eyes, running mascara and all, her flushed cheeks, and her heaving chest. “It’s nice to finally really meet you.” he said, grinning.

Taken aback, Mary gaped at him.

“Now, how about breakfast?” He had blue eyes, she saw.

“Oh, I, um, I suppose.” she stammered. And that day began something. It may or may not turn into a beautiful romance, but it wasn’t the usual. Mary never had the usual ever again and it was all thanks to that fish that fell from the sky and hit her windshield.

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