It was getting to the point where Abe thought to himself: “Maybe I shouldn’t be driving to pick up my niece anymore. I could just swim over to the school. There’s no reason I couldn’t. If fish were meant to drive, God would have given us wheels.”
Not that he was so religious. You could call him cautious, in that general way: is there some whiskered fish hovering above the surface, dropping a single pebble in the ocean, so ripples become waves, waves become tides, and tides pull Abe to the exact spot the old catfish wanted him to be? Eh. Why would He bother? But was Abe the high point of the universe’s crescendo up to then? He hoped not. What a waste, if Abe The Goldfish Driving To Pick Up His Niece was its greatest accomplishment. But sometimes it was hard not to feel that way.
Like now. Stuck in traffic, it’s that kind of paranoia that’s almost inevitable. Every offense is intentional. All these other cars were arranged to keep Abe from his destination. They had no endpoints of their own, just space to fill between him and his niece, who was probably gonna have to wait by the curb again.
Stuck in traffic. He should have taken the 101. Sure, taking the current down past Coral Gables was a prettier way to go, but now look where it got him. Traffic. And the most oppressive type, too, underwater. Where cars are stacked from every side. A cuttlefish darted in from his upper right. “Hey, that’s fine! I’m not here. I’m not going anywhere. You’re the big important fish!”
This is why he wondered if he should drive at all. What if he did swim one of these days? What if he really did it? Could he get there faster that way? Who could say. It felt like it. It felt like, if he could just swim out of the car right now, just swim out the window – don’t even open the door – he could get there faster. But then his niece would have to swim back with him. He’d have to carry her backpack. Why do that when he could wait?
I was driving home, finally convincing myself to start this project, and I just thought about how irritating the really bad traffic was. The image of a fish in a traffic jam underwater came to me, and I saw a piece of construction equipment on the side of the road that said NIECE. After that, I just let the story write itself, just to get something on paper to get myself out of the non-writing slump. I don’t think this is particularly good.