The Tragedy of Perception

The seed begins its conversion

In which one goldfish comes close to deliberately leaping out of the bowl.

In the goldfish bowl, Bruce and Sheila Softly were hovering side by side. For the past ten minutes there was nothing but silence, and—to Bruce, anyway—the silence seemed to deepen with each minute.

For one further time, Sheila looked accusingly at Bruce; and Bruce could not stand this any longer. He turned to swim off, when Sheila said, “Where do you think you’re going, Bruce?”

Bruce opened his mouth to speak but there did not seem anything to say, so he just watched Sheila with his mouth hanging open.

Sheila demanded, “Well?”

Bruce said, in an experimental tone, “For a swim—?”

Sheila snapped, “Get back here—I want a word with you.”

Bruce turned back and sighed.

Sheila said, “And just why can’t you see me as a bus driver?”

“That! you’re asking me about that?”

“Come on, why?”

I don’t know.”

“Yes you do, Bruce.”

“No, I don’t.”

“You do!”

“I don’t!”

“Do!”

“Don’t!”

“Do!”

After a pause, Bruce said, “It was only an example—that’s all.”

“But why pick that?”

“No reason, Sheila; it was just the first thing I thought of.”

Sheila scowled at him and said, “You think that’s all I’m good for, don’t you?—driving busses.”

“Of course not.”

Why then?”

“It— er— it just didn’t seem like your style, that’s all, Sheila, not your style.”

“Not my style?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“I just pictured you doing something better.”

“Something better?”

“Of course, Sheila.”

“Like what?”

“Like whatever you wanted to.”

“Anything?”

“Anything.”

“And what if I wanted to be bus driver!”

Bruce shouted, “Be a bus driver, if that’s what you want!”

“But you said it wasn’t my style, Bruce.”

Bruce glared at Sheila for several seconds—his glare steadily intensifying—then he turned and darted away.

Sheila called, “You said you couldn’t really see me as a bus driver, Bruce.”

Bruce circled the bowl, going quicker and quicker, trying to block out the sound of Sheila’s taunts.

Sheila kept shouting, “—Saying that’s all I’m good for—that’s what you were doing. I can see exactly what you’re thinking, so don’t think you’ve fooled me. No, you’re just pretending it’s not what you were thinking, Bruce. That’s it—I can see everything you’re thinking—I can see it in your face!”

Bruce was now so enraged he was in danger of deliberately leaping from the bowl to escape Sheila’s taunts.

But Sheila then seemed to have finally emptied his whole head of words, so he turned, peered silently through the glass of the bowl and continued watching the view in the living room—but this time smirking smugly.

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