“I am a fish.”
The words were spoken with such certainty as to deny any argument to the contrary.
“How did you come to that conclusion?” I asked, trying to be conciliatory.
His dorsal fanned, which led me to guess that he was annoyed, although I couldn’t be sure. Given his assertion, I wondered if I could be sure of anything at all anymore. This must a dream. Then again, I couldn’t be sure of that, either.
His response was matter-of-fact, but his voice carried a piqued note. “I have always been a fish. We all came from the sea, of course. It’s science, you see.”
“I see. Well, how is it that you breathe air, then?” I was curious, truly. I wanted to offer a light-hearted line about being a fish out of water, but thought better of it. He seemed easily offended.
“I’m not breathing air. Don’t you know that we are surrounded by water? The world is changing. Wake up and smell the kelp.” His annoyance was quite evident now. He did little to hide it.
“If that is the case, then as a man, I must hold my breath to survive,” I said, just as matter-of-factly.
His mouth gaped twice, three times. “I suppose that’s true.”
“But, I can’t hold it for long, or else I would suffocate and drown. Not to mention that doing so would end our conversation. Do you see?”
“Well, then. That’s your problem, isn’t it?”
He had a point.
Discretion being the better part of something that seemed no longer relevant, I was just about to concede the argument, or at least bring it to a hasty close, when I awoke to the distant sound of mermaids, singing each to the other, though not to me.
This the way of the world today: if we do not accept the contrafactual that is presented, we become the outcasts. It’s not as though we weren’t told this was coming!