Jack took the empty growler bottle from the garage, his mother had used it when his father still lived with them. It had been a way for her to keep some small bit of her sanity. He took the bottle to the kitchen, and cleaned it thoroughly, using dish soap, hot water, and plenty of elbow grease.
He then filled it with water. “Yep. I’m ready.” Next he went to his room, and fished the two goldfish his father had given him out of their bowl, placing them in the bottle. “There.” He sealed the bottle, and proceeded to the garage, where he got his bike.
It was a short ride from his house to the beach. Most wouldn’t call it a beach, he knew. It was more like a short strip of sand surrounded by rocks. Not many people visited it, instead, they visited the much bigger beach a couple of miles south, where the rocks were missing.
It was perfect for what Jack intended.
“Dear bastard of a father. This one’s for you, and all the hell you put me and Mom through.”
Jack parked his bike in a bike rack, and carefully made certain his chain was locked in place. He knew he probably didn’t need to lock his bike in place, that no one would steal it. “Another thing to thank Dear old Dad for.” He remembered learning to hide things from his Dad. So they didn’t turn up missing. Thrown away, broken, sold, whatever. With his Dad, who knew? “If I lock it in place, Dad can’t take it.”
It was shortly past sunrise. His mother was at work. She worked nights. All night. Every night. She had to. It was the only way to pay the bills. Especially since “Dear old Dad” had left, and took all his income with him. “Dear old Dad” was supposed to send money each month. He hadn’t sent a dime. Six months, and not one dime.
The beach was perfect. Quiet. Calm. No people. The sun painted the sky and the clouds in shades of gold. It glistened on the ocean waves, like little diamonds shining in the water. Jack loved to watch the ocean, and the way the sunlight played off the waves. It always calmed him.
He carried the growler with him. The two goldfish swam around in circles inside, oblivious to what he was planning. He wondered, “Do goldfish have feelings? Like people do? Or are they like my bastard Father? Filled with hate, and uncaring?”
He walked to the end of the beach, near the rocks, before he stopped. It was a quiet place. He could sit on the rocks, and watch the ocean, and the sun. And he could deal with his emotions about his father without anyone bothering him.
Jack put the growler on the sand. He laid it on its side, with the top pointed toward the ocean. He knew, if he opened it, gradually, the water would drain out. Not all the water. But most of it. That’s what he wanted.
He removed the growler’s lid, and watched the water pour out. It came out rapidly, at first, until the bottle was half empty. Then it slowed to a trickle. Finally, it stopped, except when the goldfish stirred it up enough to cause more to leak out.
It was glorious. He watched, as the goldfish slowly died from lack of oxygen in the water. They’d used it all. The water had become toxic to them. They couldn’t breathe. They slowed. They stopped moving. They died.
Jack watched them.
“That’s what I think of you, Dear old Dad.” Jack wished he could put his father in a bottle, throw it into the sea, then open it. And let his father drown. Trapped in a bottle he couldn’t escape.
He dumped the dead fish into the ocean. “Good riddance.”
He took the growler home, and put it where the goldfish bowl had been. “So I never forget what you did to Mom, or to me.”
673 Words (So, I went over…)
It’s week 96 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. You can read about Miranda’s small fiction challenge here. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed.