The Fish and the Finch

            In a far distant time and place, on the fifth story of a great palace, near the wondrous window of a seemingly endless series of stately glass apertures, there resided a fish and a finch in a tank and a cage, respectively. But this was no ordinary pair, for both were exceptional and exceedingly uncommon in their own ways. Namely, the avian animal was actually an anomalous, red-headed rainbow finch, the rarest of its species, with a red face, black collar, sky blue crown, pastel purple chest, pale yellow belly, turquoise tail, and faded, forest green back. Despite colors subtler than an average Gouldian finch, and a size much larger, no one ever appreciated its plumage other than its neighbor, who likewise, was no regular fish, but rather a rainbow fish, the rarest of all coral creatures, whose holographic scales changed color whenever light reflected off of its laterally compressed surface, and whose shape was perfect for swimming around the reefs out of which its distant ancestors evolved. Its deep, dark hues of blue, green, and pinkish purple had the power to mesmerize anyone in view of them, and its bright silver scales too, but no one ever appreciated the amazing aquatic animal other than its neighbor, the finch.

            Each day, the two would stare longingly out at the landscape, and each night, the two would dream about each other, either gone on splendid adventures outside of the confines of their enclosures, or lost in the nightmare of being trapped forever. Upon waking from its restive state each morning, the fish would look out at the ocean on the horizon and fantasize about finding its way back home, come hell or high water. Even death would taste better than the comforts of this prison, it would think to itself. Similarly, the finch would sightsee the trees in the distance and imagine singing on their braided branches, to fulfill its potential as an appointed messenger of the trees, like other wild birds, through whose clear tones, the gods themselves spoke.

            “One day, I will escape this cage,” the finch would chirp to its friend.

            “And one day, this tank’ll be history,” the fish would reply.

            “We’ll find a way somehow,” the one would tell the other, but over time, after many long days and nights that seemed to blend together, the actual prospects of such fancies grew bleaker and bleaker.

            Just when all hope had been lost, one morning, the fish pointed out to the finch that the custodian had not properly secured the second of the three latches on its door.

            “Can you squeeze through?” the rainbow fish queried with excitement. “Or are you too big?”

            “Let’s see.” Try as the finch did with all its might, it could not fit through, but the rainbow fish persisted in its encouragement and entreaties.

            “Use your pointed beak to loosen the bottom bolt! Or try it with your toe, but be careful! Come on!”

            After fiddling with the device with great care and patience, the finch finally loosened the latch and made it through the opening.

            “At last!” the beaming bird bellowed. “I’m out! Now it’s your turn.”

            “It’s no use,” the fish admitted, “just go on without me. Even if you carry me with your claws to the ocean, how could I ever make it without any water? I’d suffocate long before then.”

            Discontent to leave his friend behind, the finch refused to leave. Elated as it just was, it began to cry in lamentation of such a cruel fate. Once the tears subsided and a sedate silence set in, its sharp eyes started to wander ‘til sighting the perfect vase, of an ancient origin and historical significance, whose volume was just large enough to accommodate its comrade, and just small enough to be carried to the ocean. Without saying a word, the fervid finch flew over and grabbed the delicate container then scooped up the fish without any warning, water and all.

            “Woah, what’s happening?” the once fainéant, now flurried fish exclaimed.