Fish Bone

Lauren Villa


  1. In the morning, Harold will sit down at his computer and pull up Google.
  2. He will type in a new search: is having a pet fish good for your heart?
  3. Harold will read about how watching fish swim is an odd but effective way to reduce stress and blood pressure.
  4. Harold’s doctor, Dr. Riley, with her long black hair and chipped front tooth will tell Harold that he’s in trouble.
  5. Harold will fantasize about what it would be like to spit in her mouth.
  6. Dr. Riley will, for no known reason, recall a time when she was at brunch with her girlfriends and the waiter convinced her that swallowing spit was sexy.
  7. Dr. Riley will tell Harold that if he doesn’t do something about his stress levels, he will need to start a new kind of medication.
  8. It will be the kind that makes your skin flake off, she will say.
  9. It will be the kind that makes your nightmares come to life, she will say to herself.
  10. You’re worrying me, Dr. Riley will tell Harold.
  11. You need to do something about your health, Dr. Riley will say.
  12. Then she will touch his leg.
  13. Harold will go to Petsmart and turn down aisle 5.
  14. He will ask a woman where the fish are and she will point to the end of the aisle and she will ask Harold if he has a napkin.
  15. Only then will Harold realize that the woman’s dog shit everywhere.
  16. Harold will accidently step in shit.
  17. Harold will run away to aisle 6  because cleaning up the shit could increase his stress levels.
  18. Harold will scrape the bottom of his shoe on a bottom shelf with fish food.
  19. Harold will see, and immediately, fall in love with a guppy.
  20. He will name the guppy Priscilla.
  21. He will ask the Petsmart woman in khaki pants how to take care of a guppy.
  22. The Petsmart woman will recommend a large tank, a filter, plastic decorations, and blue rocks for the tank.
  23. This will make a guppy thrive, she will say.
  24. The Petsmart woman will back away from Harold because his breath smells like a dead crow.
  25. Harold will put Priscilla, who is swimming around in a plastic bag, in his large, jacket pocket and pay for the tank and the decorations and the rocks.
  26. Harold will forget about Priscilla and forget to pay for her.
  27. Harold will drive home and fall asleep on the couch.
  28. Harold will wake up and realize that Priscilla is dead.
  29.  Priscilla will live her last moments gasping for air on top of Harold’s dirty leather couch, underneath the weight of his chest.
  30.  In the morning, Harold will sit down at his computer and pull up Google.
  31. He will type in a new search: how to save a dead fish?
  32. He will take a thumbtack and pierce it through Priscilla’s orange tail.
  33. Her body will hang on the closet door next to his computer. 
  34. Her skin will grow more dry, flaking off and dropping into a mountain of dead scales on the floor below.
  35. Everyday Harold will spritz her with water, although it won’t do much.
  36. He will fill up a little spray bottle that he will label with Sharpie, that says “Priscilla.”
  37.  Dr. Riley will fall asleep wondering how Harold’s heart is doing.
  38.  Harold will think he has work to do.
  39. He will drive back to the Petsmart and buy another Priscilla.
  40. He will put her in his pocket and walk out without paying.
  41. He will pop the bag, pour the water into a cup and drink it while he watches her flop on the couch.
  42. He will fall asleep on top of her.
  43. In the morning he will take a thumb tack and put Priscilla #2 next to Priscilla #1.
  44. He will make an appointment to see Dr. Riley.
  45. Dr. Riley will wear her clean white shoes and wipe her hands with hand sanitizer before she listens to his heart.
  46. Dr. Riley will smile even though the room smells like fish guts.
  47. You’re doing much better, she will say.
  48. Harold will smile too, the bones in his jaw will move slow.
  49. I got some fish, like you said I should, he will say.
  50. Dr. Riley will nod her head.
  51. Very good, she will say.
  52. I got fifteen, Harold will say.
  53. And his smile will harden, like a fish bone.




Lauren Villa is a writer based in San Diego, California. She is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars program. She likes to write about coffee shops, sex, space, and death. Her work has appeared in Sky Island Journal, Thoughtful Dog, and more.