First-Time Winner

by Liza Wyles

She came home with two fish in a bag, named them Goldie and Rainbow, and promised to give them a life better than the one they had at the Orange County Fair. Mom put them in a plastic take-out container, re-washing it make sure there were no traces of wonton soup, and poked five holes in the lid before sealing it shut, but her daughter had different plans; she was going to take them to the brook and set them free. She hummed the theme to E.T. as she made her way past the border where the cut lawn meets the tall grass, over the low stone wall, through the ferns at the mouth of the woods, into the buzz of the cicadas and onto the trail where she once saw a salamander with a smashed head. Crouching down next to mossy rock sunk halfway in, she opened the lid and dipped her hand in the container so the fish could kiss her goodbye, then dipped the finger into the brook - the water colder and grittier, but it was nature, and that is where Goldie and Rainbow needed to be, as their puckered mouths seemed to say to her when she tilted the container and poured them out with the stream of tap water. They swirled and bumped into each other before the current found them and pushed them away from her; they would be dead in minutes, but not before they had lived freely as goldfish. She felt better about that, and about her ring toss skills; next time, she’d try for the tree frog.


Liza Wyles writes, directs and produces commercials in New York City and is looking forward to undertaking projects that last longer than 30 seconds.