Here’s another one, written because of a friend’s love of tilapia. There are other things to be said about it, but I get nervous when I think about speaking or writing about writing.
One summer, he and his mother excavated the entire backyard. The flowers had died, the lawn had died, and the vegetables had died. So they dug it all up, right down to the clay and right up to the back door. They hadn’t meant to excise all the earth, but they didn’t know when to stop. She and he, streaked with dirt, would sit on the edge of the hole after a day’s work, her woolly sweater draped over a shovel, and eat their supper. The dumb, pleasing exhaustion of a job well done soaked into them.
They sold the topsoil on kijiji and made a pool.
They farmed tilapia, it was his mother’s idea. The beautiful, pearloid fish shimmered green and pink as they poured into the pond, and as they dug at the bottom and ate whatever they found, and as they thrived. The fish multiplied. His mother would throw turnip peels and apple cores into the pool and the surface would boil with hungry mouths. They would even eat the leaves that blew into the pond from the sycamore in their neighbour’s backyard. If the wind was calm and the sun was bright, it would seem their iridescent bodies with their little goldleafed eyes were hovering, suspended. The water was clean and cool, and the air never smelled sweeter.
Some nights, his mother would sit in the door frame and dip her feet into the pool, letting the gasping faces nibble the dead skin from her feet.