Jellyfish

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  No Houses


A short story written for India Emerald's picture prompt Flash Fiction challenge.

Submitted: January 13, 2018

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Submitted: January 13, 2018

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Jellyfish.

Joseph wanted to go to the aquarium, the new one that had opened in the city. But at the same time the idea scared him. The entire place was underground, all the tanks, all the exhibition halls, all the corridors; he couldn’t help but worry that the entire place might just collapse taking him and his family with it.

He knew that it was planned as a special treat for him though. Over the last few years, ever since had had done a school project on sharks, he had become obsessed with creatures that lived underwater. His parents had offered to get him some goldfish, but he’d said no; the creatures he was interested in were those that lived deep in the ocean.

He refused to eat any kind of fish. His Mom frowned and his Dad scolded, but he’d stayed adamant. No sea creature would pass his lips again, not even fish fingers. Eventually it had become a small victory for him, and his parents had even bought him a huge encyclopedia all about life in the ocean. This had instantly become, and still was, his most precious possession.

He was still nervous as he stood between his mother and father, being taken on a steady downward course by the escalators. It made it hard for him to judge just how deep down they were going; steps would have given more of a clue. His father paid for their tickets and they walked in to the exhibition hall.

The hall was more like a corridor than anything else. Tanks, huge ones, lined the walls of both sides. The light was strange, blue and dim, giving Joseph the feeling that he, too, could be floating around in water, although his feet were firmly on the tiled floor. It was cool, too. The boy shivered, glad that he was wearing his winter jacket.

Each tank they passed had a board nearby, with illustrations of creatures that could be found inside it, along with their names and a brief description. Joseph had paid, out of his own pocket money, for the most expensive guide book they sold, and he paused to study it before moving on.

There was one tank that seemed to attract more attention than the others, the one that contained the sharks. Joseph looked at them, but they weren’t like the ones in ‘Jaws’. They weren’t what he really wanted to see.

Leaving his parents watching the sharks, Joseph made his way towards the tank of jellyfish. Portuguese Man O War, otherwise known as Floating Terror. Their bodies were like big blobs, Joseph was not sure if they were really blue tinged or if they just took on the color of the water surrounding them. It was those long wiggly, string-like tentacles that could kill a grown man.

He stood there watching as they moved through the water, more drifting than swimming. If there were aliens on another planet, Joseph would bet that those that lived in water would look just like these creatures. In fact, he wouldn’t mind betting that they came from out in space somewhere. He moved closer to the tank, right up to it, and placed his hands against the glass.

He had been seen. Not by the staff that worked there, but by the jellyfish themselves. It appeared that they were floating their way towards him, reaching out for him. Joseph felt kind of mesmerized, frozen in place, as they grew closer and closer to him. It was kind of.....wonderful.

“Joseph! There you are. Why did you wander off?”

“Look, Dad! They’re trying to talk to me.” Joseph looked back towards the tank but his father’s voice had destroyed the magic of the moment. The jellyfish were already moving away.

He tried to be enthusiastic about the rest of the exhibits, but Joseph knew that nothing else could live up to that moment with the jellyfish. Before they left, he used his remaining pocket money to buy a giant poster of them, which he got his father to fix to his bedroom wall.

Was it silly the way he would sometimes stand in front of it, placing his hands against it as he had the tank? Was it strange that he imagined them moving towards him?

Well, a boy can dream, can’t he!

 

(719 words).


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