That was months ago now. I'm still deactivated. Detached, depressed, deluded and destructively disillusioned. Then I met Sabina. Craving korma from the local Indian joint Malabar, I saw them sharing a table. Mark and a stranger clearly on a first date, huddled in close to the window overlooking the wet street. For a moment I watch in the shadow of an illegally parked RV that reeks of wet carpets and weed. They're drinking red wine, he's wearing a new blue shirt. Even without sound it's clear they're making small talk. Mark's expressions and gestures hint at a sensitive nature. She seems passive. They are hitting it off. I imagine walking past the window and acting surprised to see him. Maybe do the fake escalator. I turn to walk back home the long way. It's funny when you realise you've crossed paths with people, I didn't recognise Sabina from that night at all. She was just the gorgeous woman who sold me a fish.
After Mark shattered my self esteem and ruined my favourite take out place, I often found myself at the pet shop on the highway, in front of the aquarium lost in blue otherworldly silence. Sabina tapped me on the shoulder, I didn't know how long I had been standing there. "See anything you like?" she chirped "Yeah serenity" I reply, transfixed. She sized me up in a long sideways glance. "Follow me." I turn and see her, a woman brimming with energy, all swishy black hair and teethy smiles. She leads me to an office cluttered in 1970s decor. I awkwardly wait at the threshold until she ushers me inside towards an old bulky cabinet, I peer inside and see a row of the most beautiful Siamese fighting fish gracefully floating in pristine glass spheres. Their delicate fins dance around in swirls of colour, in the centre sits a bowl larger than the others. Inside, flashes of bright gold and turquoise circle the bowl rhythmically, little black eyes burning like embers. I am mesmerised. Sabina fumbles with a key on a long brown cord. I notice a row of padlocks on the cabinet doors. She darts her head back anxiously for a moment then unlocks them, jerking open the creaky wood. She slowly scoops up the bowl with the prized fighter inside darting furiously. She extends her arms out, the flawless glass bubble between her palms. I look at her confused as she steps towards me gesturing to take the bowl. "How much?" She smiles and shrugs "nothing". I hesitate for a moment before reaching out. The glass is smooth and cold against my skin. "Well, just a promise to keep him safe". I hold the bowl up to my face and look at the ethereal fish staring back at me. "But you should go now". The feeling of wonder is shattered as she pushes me towards the door. "Wait. Are you sure I don't have to pay? This doesn't feel right". She pauses and blinks hard. "Do you have a car?" "Yeah?" "Come back at 3 and give me a ride home. It's gonna rain."
Climbing the stairs to my apartment I hear my neighbours feud through the walls as I fumble for my keys. Inside it's dark, I yank open the curtains and carefully place the bowl on the windowsill overlooking the dead tree still covered in fairy lights in the backyard. He glides around the bowl curious of his new surroundings. I need to think of a name. Turning on the stereo, Lou Reed croons as I stare at the strange beautiful creature sharing the room with me. I glance at the pile of unopened mail towering precariously on the table, then lay on the floor gazing at the ceiling. How did I get lonely enough to agree to this? I regret it already. I tune out when Toby tells me gossip because I can't muster up a shit to give, and now I'm going to be social with a stranger? Maybe it'll be good. I need a change. I stopped anguishing over why Mark wanted to ruin my life. Maybe he was sociopathic, hated women, hated himself. Maybe l had the same haircut as the first girl to break his heart. I'm not making myself sick for a riddle I'll never solve. But I can't stay numb forever. She was right. It's raining.
I pull off the highway into the empty car park, turn off the engine and check my phone. 2.54pm. No messages. She's locking up the store. A black 1970s Plymouth pulls up behind me. I glance back at Sabina and my jaw drops. In one swift movement she sweeps the side part of her hair to the opposite side, revealing platinum blonde hair underneath. She looks completely different as she runs through the rain to the car. She burst inside like an explosion of fire "Go!" "Woah, OK where?" "Just drive!" I look in the rear view mirror and see a lumbering man get out of the car and menacingly stride towards us. I start the engine and skid off, just as his hands thump violently on the back window. On the highway my hands are shaking against the wheel "what the fuck was that!?" "Do you know Orange Sundays?" "The cafe!?" "Yeah. Let's go there. We can talk." We walk in and sit in a booth at the back. A preppy woman scowls intensely at Sabina from the next table. Finally Sabina stands up and walks over to her, smiling widely. "Hi. I noticed you're giving me more eye contact then your friend here." The woman narrows her eyes and scowls. "Guys don't like that much make up you know." "Well I suggest they stick to a light BB cream and mascara then" she replies to the bewildered woman before walking back to our table with a happy shrug. As the dinner crowd came and went, we sat talking until it was dark. She told me about the asshole who nearly smashed my window, about the vicious animal fights he hosts in a mansion in the mountains, making bank by forcing the rarest and most beautiful animals to fight, suffer and die. He had spent close to a million on rare breeds this year alone, she'd overheard fragments of horrific stories from managers in hushed whispers over the years. The fighter she saved was worth $8,000. He payed in cash, telling her he'd be back to pick him up. She decided in that moment she couldn't be a part of anymore death. She pocketed the 8k, rung her boss and quit on the spot before seeing me at the aquarium. When I ask what other animals he fights her eyes go dark. She silently sucks in a deep breath as if about to start a long story, but then stops, shifting uncomfortably in the booth. "I'm not sure what I'll do with the cash..." she starts, trying to change the subject. I'm about to push it further when we both clock the Plymouth pull up to the curb. I'm frozen in fear until Sabina grabs my arm and pulls me into the bathroom. I look back just in time to see the huge man shatter my windscreen with one perfect blow from a hammer. "Right. Well now I know my first purchase" Sabina quips. After what feels like an eternity in the bathroom being strangely bored waiting to possibly die, we go scout the damage and it's bad. It gets worse when it starts raining. Sabina runs into the dollar store next door looking for a solution. We find it in the form of garbage bags and a cheap scuba kit. Driving the car down the freeway in garbage bag ponchos, goggles and no windshield, screaming through the rain I made the decision. I named the fish Moirai.