“Who’s turned the thermostat up again?” Mr Fish tugged at his shirt collar. He twisted the dial to the left. One of these days, he’d have the thing moved higher up the wall to where no one could reach it.
He walked through the house, opening windows. The bowls on the sills needed topping up, so he filled a watering can and made a second tour. In the living room, Darla complained about a draught.
“Put your coat on,” he called as he passed by into the kitchen. He searched the cupboards. “Darla, honey? Did you forget the salt?”
But his wife was too engrossed in the television. A couple of timewasters were being shown around properties in the Algarve. Twats, thought Mr Fish, without needing to see the screen. Moving house isn’t the answer. Why can’t they see their dissatisfaction is rooted in their waning relationship?
He strode into the living room and stood in front of the screen. “Honey, the salt?”
Darla squirmed on the sofa, trying to see past her husband. He had a swimmer’s build but his narrow waist was still enough to block out half of her view.
“I forgot,” she shrugged. She had closed the window again, he noticed. Did she want him to die?
“Don’t trouble yourself,” he grumbled. “I’ll go out and get some.” He peered at the late afternoon sky. “Looks like rain,” he enthused.
“Your lucky day…” Darla mumbled with a scowl.
Mr Fish strolled to the shops, unbuttoning his shirt, savouring each fat raindrop as it splashed on his pale skin. Red flukes swelled at his throat.
I’ll tell her tonight, he resolved. I’ll tell her it’s not working – we’re not working – and I’m going home. They had been happy. Once. A fairy-tale romance, you might say, but it hadn’t taken long for the shine to fade. We’re just not compatible.
The decision made, he perked right up. He bought two plastic sacks of sea salt and grinned at the shop assistant who raised her eyebrows at him; his shirt was soaked through, clinging to him, almost transparent. The rain glistened in his hair, like silver, like sapphires.
He splashed in puddles all the way back to the house. I’ll tell her tonight, he almost sang to himself. After I’ve had my bath. I’ll be stronger then and able to resist her sulks.
The house was like a furnace when he got back. The heating was on full blast. Right, he thought; I’m right to leave.
He emptied the salt into the bath tub and turned on the cold water. Just as soon as I’ve had my brine, I’m off. I’ll get my trident out of storage and head for the coast.
From downstairs, the theme tune to some godawful reality show blared.
To think I gave up my underwater kingdom for this!