• Mathura Hawley

angel

Updated: Aug 2, 2021


He is the same fish that greeted me this morning, almost two years later, as he always does, recognizing me as I approach the tank, coming to the side to blink back at me. "

There is a large angel fish that swims along the top of our tank, and he is beautiful, with long fins that extend past his shimmering silver body. His eyes are outlined in black and flicker with orange streaks around the edges. He is graceful, moving across the front of the glass in a slow dance, barely making a ripple in the water. The other fish pass well below him, and even the hungry little crab pays him his due. He has lived with us for over two years. During hurricane Sandy, the tank went silent along with the power of the entire lower east side. We kept it warm with towels and hoped the fish would live, the air filter ominously quiet. After 24 hours, the building still in darkness and the need for water and heat creating a mounting tension in the streets, we knew it wasn’t safe for any of us to stay. Om bought large plastic baggies from a store that was selling supplies by flashlight, and into a bag dropped the angel fish, where he took his place on the counter next to the sacks of his tank mates. We walked across the Manhattan Bridge to Brooklyn to claim our truck, then returned to load in Luke, some clothes, and the baggies filled with our little swimmers. We fled to our cabin upstate, hoping for the best. The angel lived through that trauma, without much air for hours that crossed into days. Once free to swim again in the bubbly water of a temporary home, all the fish seemed relieved, their frantic gasping gradually calming to a steady circling. They kept us company in the woods until it was safe to return home, five days later. They sloshed up and down between Om’s feet, the heat of the truck coating them as we drove back without stopping, the angel bobbing stoically in his wet bubble. He is the same fish that greeted me this morning, almost two years later, as he always does, recognizing me as I approach the tank, coming to the side to blink back at me. I say good morning and good night to him, and he usually pushes closer to the glass, with trust, as if to make sure that I know he is there. Often when I tell people I am vegetarian, they ask, “And you don’t eat fish?” and I quickly say, “No,” and I think of our angel, our survivor, my friend who begins and ends my every day, and I thank God for the smallest creatures in this world who sometimes have the biggest hearts.



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