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Flash fiction is an umbrella term used to describe any fictional work of extreme brevity, including the Six-Word Story, 140-character stories, also known as twitterature, the dribble (50 words), the drabble (100 words), and sudden fiction (750 words

Shiju loved to watching the fish swim. That is why when his mom asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday he said he wanted to go to the aquarium.

“What? Again? Haven’t you been there twice already this year? How about going to the zoo this time?” 

“Not the zoo, mom. I want to see the fish!” He was adamant.

“Oh, alright, then! Whatever you like.” Mom had ruffled his hair and gone back to her chores.

What he would have liked was for her to get him a small home aquarium, one of those pretty ones for sale he saw in the pet shop on the main road. Every single time he walked past, he stopped to stare longingly at the colorful fish darting in and out of the underwater plants, hiding behind the small rocks, and sometimes nibbling the food the shop keeper dropped into the water of the aquarium. But of course, the home aquariums cost too much. He knew his mother did not have that kind of money. Ever since dad had left them, money was always in short supply. He understood and so never troubled his mother. 

The next best thing was visiting the aquarium housed in the huge building near the beach.  Mom could sit beneath the trees in its courtyard and read while he spent all his time staring at the various fish and reading (actually re-reading) all about them. He loved the striped ones the best and spent hours staring at them. Then mom and he would have the packed lunch, mom would have made something nice. Later she would buy him a cold, flavored drink from the kiosk before they caught the bus home.

Shiju skipped ahead of mom when he got off at the bus stop closest to the beach. He had the ticket money for the aquarium in his pocket having taken it from mom in advance. He would buy the tickets before mom reached. She was so slow, looking at the wares on display by the roadside vendors.

“Hurry up, mom!” he called out.

A few more feet and… He stopped short.  The gate was closed. What? It was not Monday. Why was the gate closed? He felt the disappointment well up inside him and rise. It was at his throat choking him and soon reached his eyes, threatening to spill and announce itself. He heard his mom behind him, clicking her tongue.

“Closed? Why is it closed today?”

He didn’t want to open his mouth lest the disappointment slip through for all to see. He pointed to the notice stuck on the gate. Renovation. Closed for a month.

“Oh no! There was nothing in the newspapers.”

His mother seemed annoyed at the futility of having come this far for nothing.

“There was something else in the newspapers though… and it might well interest you.”

Maybe mom meant the new snake the zoo had acquired. Everyone in his class had been talking of having seen the new anaconda. But he was in no mood to see some slimy snake. however huge and amazing it was.

“No! I don’t want to go to the zoo,” he burst out angrily. 

“Who said anything about going to the zoo? Look over there… “

His mom pointed to the colorful poster stuck on the wall. Finding Dory! Oh yes, yes, yes!

“Fish, right?” His mother raised an eyebrow and smiled cheekily at him. Of course, the movie was about fish. Animated fish, talking to each other. How exciting! Mom already knew what his answer was going to be, Shiju knew.  He said it anyway, grinning from ear to ear, “Yes, mom. Let’s go. Hurry up!” Disappointment had by then evaporated.

© Shail Mohan 2019

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