Once upon a time, two fish grew up in the same seafood store.
They grew up together in the narrow confines of their clean but cramped glass bowls. Life was very lonely, so they would knock against each other’s walls and blow bubbles at each other in amiable silence. Together, they wondered what the sea was like, for they remembered nothing about it but the smell and taste of sharp salt and an immeasurable, infinite vastness they could not express either in words or bubbles. They dreamed of cold green water glowing in dappled colors over their heads, feeling the pulse of warm, living currents flow, pushing and pulling against their lithe, sparkling bodies as the tide crept in and out.
Then came a day when they were both poured into the same bowl, and the owner picked up the glass bowl in his hands and began walking out into the yard.
In the short distance from the yard to the kitchen, the fishes began speaking hurriedly to each other.
“I say,” said one fish, “jump out with me, so that we may swim to the sea!”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” said the other fish. “Stay quiet and perhaps we won’t be hurt.”
“You obviously haven’t been looking too closely at those dried yellow corvine on the wall,” cried the first fish. “Linger here a second longer and we shall be eaten. This is our only chance!” He swam up to the surface of the water and looked around desperately for the sea.
“There is no sea here,” the other fish said calmly. “If we die, we die.”
The first fish saw a puddle of muddy water in the hollow of the yard. Now or never, he thought. “You’re right,” the first fish said. “But at least I’ll die trying!”
With one furious movement, he hurled himself out of the bowl and landed in the middle of the yard. Gasping for breath, he lay there quivering and writhing, beating his scaly tail furiously against the dust. Startled, the owner leant down to pick him back up, but the fish had gone nearly insane in his vain attempts to writhe toward the water. He flipped and flopped madly until the cat came running forward and tore his guts out. Slick, slimy ooze poured forth from his ripped stomach, and his eyeballs were trampled under the cat’s paws.
“Foolish young fish,” the other fish thought, sadly, as his owner flipped him onto a block of wood. “He never had a chance in the first pla—”
He could not finish this thought, because a thick knife crashed down on his head and sent it flying across the wood block. His body was chopped up into raw, neat chunks and eaten for dinner. He was delicious.
Both fish were eaten, but one died trying.
Even if I can never reach the ocean, or taste the sweet brine of my sea, I hope I can live my whole life dreaming – and trying. I would rather die leaping than spend my life swimming in passive suicide.