It was a simple metal fish that hung on a wall. Initially. A rainbow trout, larger than life size and faithfully painted by a somewhat famous artist. It was constructed in two halves, a seam running lengthwise but invisible behind the paint. It had hung for years in the home office of Henry Hyde.
When the home burned to the ground in 1791 the fish fell from the wall and broke in half. Workers cleaning up the site did not pay particular attention to either half and so it fell into workers hard working hands. Each half found its separate way to humble digs where breakfast consisted of porridge and week old bread and leaving before dawn for the days work. The fish halves lay in the separate burrows of an attic or basement corner it’s paint absorbing the moisture and maw of an atmosphere eager to perform its dance of eternity on the scaly skin.
Only a diet poor child could relish the half of a metal fish found by chance in gramma’s basement but that is exactly what happened. Emma took a rag nearby, dusted the fish and to her delight discovered the iridescence that remained. To her young heart it was a whole and beautiful fish. Her imagination filled in the missing top half to perfection. Gramma made it hers, a gift to cherish for life.
The top half of the fish sailed across the Atlantic in the footlocker of a young immigrant to the United States in the late 1800s. Customs officials questioned Anthony with a smile, wondering what was important enough about a half metal fish to take up so much valuable space in his single footlocker. Anthony shrugged and smiled back. It would grace his office bookshelf for years, imagination painting in the bottom half hidden by Tennessee walnut shelving.
The fish halves immigrated nearly 100 years apart to America, Emma’s half now in the family of her great grand daughter, also named Emma. They lived together in Groton, Connecticut where nuclear submarines also home ported. A family, all the submariners, and one of Emma’s had been lost aboard a nuclear submarine many years before. Her family stayed in Groton and the bottom half of the fish decorated Emma’s bedroom window sill.
When the Twin Towers collapsed in 2001 the upper half of the fish, once again after 200 plus years, found itself in the middle of disaster. It had survived before. It would again. A fireman picked it out of the rubble and looked up to the sky, unsure for an instant why. He took the fish home and away from the misery enveloping him.
The fireman’s son raised goats. And fished. When he saw the fish his father had brought home from ground zero he had to have it. His imagination saw a whole fish, complete in every detail. Peter, the simple goat herder as he often joked, placed the fish in the rear window of his pickup as he drove home, a forty mile drive. He enjoyed the view of his fish in his rear view mirror.
Stopping for groceries at his local Hyde’s supermarket, he planned to buy some fresh vegetables to mix with Rice a Roni for dinner. A young bachelor rarely plans his next meal too far in advance.
The open parking space beside his pickup was occupied by a white Lexus. Emma’s parents. When Emma and Peter walked out of the supermarket moments apart they arrived at nearly the same instant to their time travel vehicles. Emma saw the fish in John’s rear window and with eyes inquisitive, spoke first.
The Rainbow. A simple fish.