was a small boy with mouse brown, spiky hair and dark brown eyes
who lived on the coast of Western Australia, and was very lonely.
The boys at school did not accept him like he wanted them to. He
wanted friends more than anything in the world, but he kept
telling himself that he didn't need them.
Max's world was dark as can be. Everyday after
school he would sit on the steps, waiting for his father to pick
him up. He was usually very late.
couldn't think of anything in the world that made him happy. It
was rare that anyone ever saw him smile. In fact, there wasn't a
soul in the world that had seen his lips turn upwards since he
moved to Perth.
sweltering hot day, when his life was at its lowest, Max sat
nervously on the school steps. Hurry dad, hurry he thought. He
knew the bullies would be at the steps soon. They had threatened
Max that they would come and beat him up after school because he
had answered a question correctly in maths. "Nerd! Geek!" was
what the children had chanted.
was waiting for fifteen minutes before the boys appeared suddenly
in the distance. As soon as he saw them, Max's heart started
beating two times as fast and he knew that he had to run. Despite
his nerdy reputation, he was actually a very fast runner, but Max
didn't have complete confidence in himself. He never
sprinted as fast as he could into the distance. Behind him he saw
that the other three boys were beginning to run too. He planned
to run until he found a hiding place where he would stay until he
was sure they were gone.
Running from the boys, Max felt lost and upset.
Usually at school he remained unnoticed, but now he was suddenly
the schools number one victim. He soon began to sweat, and he had
to stop on the road, after making sure the boys were far away. He
stood there, panting, for what seemed like forever, until he ran
on, in the direction of the ocean.
Max lost sight of the boys. By this time he was at the beach. He
found a small cave, which he took cover in. He felt safe
rested for a very, very long time. He did not worry that his
father would get cross if he didn't come back before dinner.
Max's dad didn't care where he went. He rested peacefully on the
rocks, happy to be away from the other boys. He felt better when
he was by himself. He didn't need to worry about what he did. Max
walked over to the water where he waded in waist
water was calm. He felt the sand between his toes and it reminded
him of how much he used to love the ocean. Back when he was
living in Brisbane. Back when he had countless friends. A wave of
misery washed over him, just like the waves crashing over the
sand, and he felt so much longing for the place that he had
let a tear slide slowly down his face. He felt as lonely as a
cloud, drifting this way and that; high up in the sky. He watched
as a tear fell onto the waters surface, creating circle after
circle after circle.
Max was at the lowest of lows, something caught his eye. It
appeared to be a small red fish, caught in a can-ring. It was
flopping on the rocks desperately.
Immediately, Max sprinted to the rock and
carefully slid the fish out of the can-ring. He then put it into
a rock pool which was in the cave. You poor thing, thought Max
sympathetically. When he out the fish into the water, it didn't
move. Max felt nervous, until he saw the swish of a tail and the
fish swimming happily around the rock pool. He liked to think the
fish was appreciative for his help.
the fish finished swimming around and stopped, right in front of
Max. Max was startled! The fish looked like it was staring right
into his very soul. He couldn't believe it, but it seemed to Max
that the fish was smiling up at him. In just a second, he felt a
strong attachment to it. His eyes actually lit up. It made him
cheerful to sit with the fish. He liked it. He liked the fish's
beautiful red fish scales. He thought they were
ran all the way home to fetch a bucket and some fish food. He was
so overjoyed that he ran twice as fast and made it home in less
than ten minutes! He didn't fret about the bullies, they just
weren't on his mind. Once he had a plastic bucket and some fish
food, Max continued back to the secret cave.
was afraid that the fish might have swum away. He felt anxious as
he approached the cave, but his stomach unclenched when he saw
the little red fish, waiting for him in the rock
had decided to give the fish a name. He thought, and thought, and
thought, until he decided that the fish was a girl, so Stella
would do. He liked the sound of that. Yes, Stella was the right
name for the beautiful red fish in the rock pool. Max filled the
bucket with sea-water and carefully placed Stella into it. She
seemed happy. He sprinkled some fish flakes into the water, and
watched as Stella gobbled them all up. He was beaming inside as
he raced back home for dinner.
didn't think his father would approve of his new fish friend, so
Max placed Stella and her bucket in his closet, out of view. He
sprinkled a few fish flakes in, too. "Now, you stay here all
right? I'm just going to fetch you some things to put in your new
home." Max told Stella. He thought she understood.
pinched some plastic sea plants and pebbles from his father's
fish tank. He was sure his dad wouldn't notice. When he came back
to his closet and put the new things into Stella's bucket, he
felt like Stella was watching him again. He hoped she liked him.
"I will always protect you" Max sad solemnly. "I
the next few weeks, Max was the happiest he had been since he
moved to Perth. He kept out of the way of the boys at school and
they didn't bother him anymore. Everyday after school he would
walk; or more like run home to meet his beautiful pet fish Stella
once again. It comforted him some to have someone that needed
him; that relied on him to keep them alive. He was smiling more,
and everyone noticed the difference in his mood
Everything was going perfectly, and for once Max
was content. His mind did not dwell on the fact that his father
had forgotten his birthday, or taken an hour to realise he had to
pick up his son from football practice, but on the fact that
Stella had grown a whole half a centimetre in one month and
finished a whole box of fish flakes. All was going well, that is,
until it all went terribly wrong..
the twenty-fifth day since Max and Stella had met, Max brought
Stella in for news. He showed her to the class, and didn't
stutter nervously once! He explained to them all how important to
him that fish was, how she was his best friend but they just
roared with laughter and told him that fish do not talk, they are
not friends. Max didn't care though, he had his fish. He didn't
that very same day, the bullies that had chased Max ruined
everything. It happened in the school cafeteria, where students
were eating, talking; that kind of thing. One of the boys, whose
name was Daniel had a chocolate milkshake in his hand. Max was
innocently making his way across the café when Daniel ran
straight into him, the milkshake spilling all over his jumper. An
expression of intense rage spread across Daniel's face. "ARGH!"
Daniel grabbed Max by the jumper and pulled him
close to his face. Max could smell his garlic breath. "I'm going
to get your fish." He told Max. "And I will kill it!" A look of
absolute horror washed over Max's face. He had left Stella in the
classroom, where they could easily get to her.
Daniel released Max from his firm grip, and Max
fell to the ground. Terrible thoughts were running through his
mind. They were going to kill Stella. They were going to take the
last thing in his life that made him happy away. All Max felt was
despair. Despair, and anger, and complete horror. He scrambled to
his feet and ran, ran as fast as he could to his small
soon as he reached his class, Max slammed open the door and
reached for Stella's bucket, which was in the middle of a table
at the back of the room. She seemed alright. He stared into
Stella's beautiful eyes and hoped this wasn't the last time he
saw her. All the same, he kissed his beautiful friend and told
her that he loved her. He really did. "They won't hurt you,
Stella. I promise." Max told Stella solemnly.
ran as fast as he could without spilling the water from the
bucket, and the two boys and Daniel chased after him. They were
determined to kill that fish. Determined to kill the only thing
that kept Max alive.
ran on, and on, and on until he was clutching a stitch in his
side, but the other boys were catching up. He didn't know where
he was going, but he guessed he was hoping that they would give
up like the last time. His face was grim and forbidding, and when
he looked back at the bullies they were happy with the pain they
had caused. Max staggered on, until he had close to nothing
of a sudden, he stopped. Right in the middle of the road. He let
a tear fall to the ground as he crouched. He looked back, and saw
that the boys were only about fifty metres behind him. He felt
like giving up. He felt like his world had already crashed down
and turned into rubble, but when he saw his poor, innocent fish,
it gave him the strength and the courage to go on, so he
ran all the way to the cave where he first found Stella. He felt
like saying; "do you remember this place, Stella?" before he
realised that Stella was just a fish, like all the kids had told
him at school. He needed to let it go. Fish are not friends, he
told himself. Fish are fish, and that is that. He sat on a rock,
panting, until he realised that he couldn't see the bullies. Had
he outrun them?
was relaxed at last, just for a moment, until he heard the voices
of Daniel and his followers only a little while away. That was
when he made his decision. Right then and there, in a matter of
seconds. Max looked right into the bucket at his beautiful
friend, and knew he would never let them hurt her. "I love you"
Max told Stella, "but I think you would be better off living in
the sea." He stared into her little beady eyes, and for just a
second, he felt like love was radiating from his very pores. He
felt like Stella loved him too. He knew that he would never
forget her. She made his life liveable, that one, small fish made
such a difference. "You will be happier there" said Max solemnly.
tide crept in, as if the ocean knew it was about to accept yet
another creature. Max squatted down and placed Stella into the
water. He placed the only living being that he had truly loved
where she belonged. He placed all his love and happiness that was
once inside him, with her. He turned around, and never looked at
the ocean again.
Daniel and the two boys emerged from behind the
wall of the cave, grinning. Max had a tear that was slowly making
its way down his cheek, but he wiped it away, and smiled back at
them, with his eyes watering. "I did it." Max whispered proudly.
"What?" one of the other boys asked, unkindly. The boys advanced
on Max, who was just standing there, motionless and still,
thinking. He didn't see them coming towards him. He was thinking,
thinking of all the happiness Stella had brought him. He had a
different view on the world now. His world filled with colour and
brightness, and what happened within the next few seconds was a
blur to him.
bullies tried to push Max over, but he didn't stumble. He stood
his ground. Even though Max was at least a head shorter than
Daniel and his friends, he had the strength of a boy who was two
heads taller. Max pushed Daniel right back, and caused him to
fall in the mud. Then, he ran. His muscular legs pumped fiercely,
furiously fast. He ran out all the grief, all the sadness the
boys had caused him. He was a new person; a stronger one than
before. He understood the world.
One year later
pet store was small, and squishy. It contained just about any
animal you could think of. It smelled of fish food. That brought
back a lot of memories. Max stepped through the doorway, beaming.
He had three hundred dollars in his pocket, which took him months
and months to earn. He knew exactly what he wanted to buy, and it
was right in front of his very eyes.
first time Max saw Ruby, he fell in love with her at once. She
was a beautiful, peach coloured kitten that had such beautiful,
big, adorable eyes. She loved Max the moment they met, and he
knew that she was all he wanted. All that would make him happy;
and she would never be taken away or hurt.
Never. Max promised her that.