- Vol. 03
- Chapter 02
Image by Philipp Keller/Stelzer Group/EMBL
ElectricThird date. We're at the zoo. Done the pacing tigers and the depressed Silver Back munching his way through a stack of cabbage. Now we're in the Tropical Fish House. Your idea. A shoal of stripey Angels scoot across the tank above us then we pause to gaze at a lone iridescent fish lying motionless in watery darkness. Your warm hand rests lightly on my bare neck and my spine tingles.
'Electric...blue,' I say.
'Bioluminescent, to be exact,' you reply. 'Deep sea fish use chemicals to produce light. Blue light travels best through water.'
You're one of those men who sponges up scientific facts then drips them out to inform. I don't mind. I've told my friends about your brains and how you're a Clooney clone who doesn't know it.
'Its spine is so delicate,' I say marvelling at the tiny bones lit up in green. What if my own spine lit up like that to show what the chemicals are doing to my body? I don't think you realise you're stroking one finger under the neck of my tee-shirt. Can't you feel me trembling? You look abstracted.
'I've Neon Tetras at home,' you say. 'They're not that hard to sex, but I've never had any success breeding them.' You turn towards me, eyes shining. 'They're so beautiful. Fresh water fish – characids. Come from Mexico. Red with one blue stripe from their eyes to their tails. You run your hand down my back as if to demonstrate. I shiver. You clear your throat. 'Some women aren't that impressed with my hobby.'
You could keep tarantulas for all I care. Apparently they're very rewarding.
'I used to have a goldfish when I was a kid,' I say. 'Jiggles'
'Jiggles – that's a nice name.' You sound quite serious. There's a pause. You clear your throat again.
Electric'Do you want to come back and see my Tetras?'
When I nod, you take my hand and we walk out of the Tropical Fish House into the sunshine.
Everything is so bright.