Shark in a Fish Bowl

Sarah DelMaramo, C’22

There once was a shark that lived in a fish bowl. Someone picked it up one day from the depths of the sea and dropped it into a perfectly round, perfectly empty bowl filled with water. The shark swam round and round the bowl, constantly staring at its own tail as it did so. 

Every other day, that same someone came by and shook salt from a salt shaker shaped like a bird. The bird was blue and had little holes drilled into its back and a cork stopper in the bottom. The shark watched the grains of salt shimmer down out of the bird’s back and dissolve slowly into the water. The salt made the shark feel queasy some days, but not so much as when the water didn’t have any salt. 

On the days when the little bird didn’t appear, the someone dropped in little brown shapes. The shark tried chewing on them at first, but they didn’t taste like fish. The shapes were more interesting floating on the top of the water, then at least they looked like fish. 

Bored one day, the shark bumped its nose on the glass. It had, on occasion, nicked the corners of its nose in the beginning, but that one day, it rammed the glass straight on. It hurt, but its thick skin softened the blow. The force of the blow made the bowl shake and a bit of water spill over the top. 

‘This could be fun,’ thought the shark to itself since no one else was around to hear it otherwise. 

From that day forth, the shark bumped into one side of the bowl every day, spilling a bit more water and moving the bowl forward each time. The someone still dropped some-thing in the bowl every day before sopping up the spilled water with a fuzzy towel. No more water was poured in and one day the water in the bowl stopped spilling out, so the shark redoubled its efforts to knock its nose on the glass. 

After a while, the shark’s nose bruised so much it split right down the middle. The water around it turned a light pink for just a moment before disappearing like salt. The shark thought the pink water looked awfully pretty. It might’ve thought it smelled awfully pretty too if it could smell anymore. 

The shark probably should have stopped then and there, but sharks are nothing if a touch stubborn, so it kept on. It kept on even after its nose was raw and red all the time, even after its fins drooped, and even after it didn’t feel like doing it anymore. It kept on even after the glass bowl took a little tumble off the table it was sitting on and shattered. All the water went everywhere but into the shark’s gills as it floundered about on the broken glass. 

The shark didn’t have much experience with dying, though that certainly was what it was doing. It died continuing to launch itself forward as much as it could. There was no more glass in the way, so it got much farther than it had before. It was awfully proud of itself. Sharks are a touch prideful, in addition to stubborn, even in death. 

The very next day, having thrown the corpse and the broken glass in the garbage, someone walked to the beach across the street and waded into the water. Reaching into the darkened depths of the ocean, a shark no longer than a forearm was pulled up and walked across the street. It was dropped into a perfectly round, perfectly empty bowl filled with water. There was a little donut-shaped piece of gray tape stuck on the bottom, strands of white glue adhered to glass. 

Every other day, the shark either saw a little bird with holes in its back drop crystals of salt or fleshy fingers drop in brown pellets. The salt made it feel queasy sometimes, but the pellets looked interesting floating on the surface.

One day, the shark bumped its nose on the glass. Just a little one, but the bowl didn’t budge. The shark tried again, but the bowl was stuck to the table, it seemed. However, this shark was a bit more than a touch stubborn and rammed into the side with all its might. 

The tape made a funny sound and the bowl shook, water spilling over the top.

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