The Red Fish Beneath the Orange Sand

by Allie M., 14

Next to the water, 
I wiggle just beneath the bright orange sand, 
and I don’t think of what will happen in the next few seconds, 

because the driftwood is a beautiful icy blue, 
“When you’re on land you see many pretty flowers!” 
and the orange sand is brighter than all the brightest oranges combined: 
I remind the other red fish, buried in the soft sand like me, of this fact. 

None of them respond. 

Somewhere nearby are gold and blue fish; 
they swim in serene stillness from atop a black rock, 
as if in 2D space. 
Their tail patterns blend into the black like mystical water, 
their ivory bones interrupt their shiny gold and scales. 

Next to me is the sea, salty blue and green – 
But for now, I’m in the bright orange sand, 
and I cannot breathe. 
That’s alright, the scene is real life beauty – something to be grateful for.

I can see other reddish fish like me lying atop mossy rocks 
that emerge from the glistening waves. 
I’m sure they get enough water from the ocean’s waves to live and thrive. 
Red is the opposite of green; 
they look nice against the green moss. 
The red fish sit on the rocks, motionless, 
as if posing for a watercolor painting. 

Beautiful feathery seagulls with unknown intentions 
swoop down from the indigo sky and 
into the sea to catch silver, shimmering things, 
with small cracks in them that look oddly like scales. 
I can’t tell what the lines that look like scales belong to – maybe pebbles. 
I smile with my tiny fish lips, 
wondering if the seagulls will ever pick me up like they do with the shiny things. 

Soon my gills feel strange, 
And an unfamiliar liquid 
blends into my red scales and flows out to the sand. 
The liquid reminds me of water, safe and familiar – It’s 
only 1 hue away from orange. Only 1 hue away from purple, 
I am 2 feet away from water, 
1 foot down in the sand. 

Small crystals of sand sparkle down onto my face, 
like an hourglass that only lasts a second, 
covering any crevices it had missed before. 

My dying gills and I are now a buried, blooming rose, in an orange glitter of sand, my own death, sparkles in my face. 

Can’t you see I’m dying? 
Why aren’t you happy?

Irvine, California