Flash Fiction – Feeding Time at the Aquarium

A three-year-old girl with blond hair, and dreams of growing up to become a mermaid or a marine biologist, leans up against the glass to see the giant sea turtle in the tank. She wears a Little Mermaid t-shirt and has been pointing out and naming all the sea creatures she knows as her parents lead her from one exhibit to the next. She even waves at the sharks they pass and smiles her own toothy grin – after all, they never actually caught Ariel.

Her parents stand on either side of her with a better view but she won’t let them pick her up. She’s a big girl and can see well enough on her own.

An announcement is made over the intercom that it’s feeding time at the aquarium and just as the little girl spots the sea turtle and starts to get excited, she catches sight of a woman climbing down into the tank and the eager turtle getting closer. From her inferior vantage point, she cannot see the containers of lettuce. They are blocked from view by the hand railing.

Her parents look down at her smiling and pointing. She looks at them with a horror and disgust they hope never to see again. It was difficult for her to turn her head back to the sea turtle whose viciousness she has grossly underestimated. But someone has to be there for the poor woman in the bright pink wetsuit who is destined, in the eyes of a confused three-year-old, to be the giant sea turtle’s dinner.

But the three-year-old’s courage fails her and she looks away as the woman eases herself into the water and heads for her gastronomic fate. She begins to cry quietly and clings to her mother’s denim pant leg. When her parents bend down to ask her what is wrong she only begins to cry more.

Her father picks her up and without a spoken word between them, they instinctively head for the gift shop. She stops crying when they buy her a purple and black, stuffed, striped fish but she remains upset until she finally falls asleep in the car on the highway back home.

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2 thoughts on “Flash Fiction – Feeding Time at the Aquarium

  1. My nieces are four and two, and we’ve gone through scenarios like this several times now. Spot on!

    She’ll figure it out eventually.

  2. ganymeder says:

    Oh, the poor kid! Someone needs to tell her that woman’s ok!

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