Jan Donley, Author of The Side Door


2 March 14

Dear Readers: the following story is a collaboration. Glenn Sharron, an artist and media producer, is one of my tumblr pals. He created this beautiful fish named Stain. He has other “fantasy fish” on his site and invites writers to develop stories about them. I really enjoyed writing a story about Stain.

Glenn Sharron’s Site

Stain lived below anything that’s below anything else. His parents, two murky fish who seemed to form right out of mud, liked the depths. It was a mystery to all the other fish in the neighborhood, how Stain was born of those two: Louisa and Sal. They were extra fishy. They liked their water dark. They stayed away from the surface. Louisa and Sal tried to hide Stain. He was too flashy for their taste.

“Why can’t you blend in like the others?” Mama Louisa pleaded. “You call too much attention to yourself.”

“Just my luck to get a bright son,” Sal complained.

Stain’s blues and reds and yellows shone like lights in the darkness.

He was lonely. Other fish didn’t want to play with him.

“You make my eyes hurt,” Joey said.

“Keep those fins away from me,” Lisa said.

Stain considered a trip to the surface. He had heard of other fish ending their lives that way. The stories of their last breaths frightened Stain: the gasping, the wish for water that was no more.

He swam away from the neighborhood. He swam up and up, away from below and into the middle.

In that in-between place, Stain saw brown fish, yellow fish, gray fish. He saw blue fish, red fish, green fish, fish of many colors.


Stain twirled to see a fish behind him, a fish unlike any fish Stain had ever seen: his body shimmered. Stain swam closer and then saw something even more unfamiliar. He saw the fish’s shiny body change. Colors appeared.

“That’s funny,” Stain said.

“Tell me about it,” the strange fish said.

“You were shiny and then you were full of colors,” Stain said.

“I’m Glass,” the fish said. “I’m reflecting you.”

Stain did not understand.

“You see yourself in me.”

Stain looked more closely at the colors inside Glass. He saw his own eyes, his fins, his blues, yellows, reds.

“That’s me?” Stain asked.

Glass turned this way and that so Stain could see different parts of himself. “Like what you see?” Glass asked.

“I’m…beautiful.” Stain had only heard stories about himself. Now, looking right at the truth, he saw it.

Stain told Glass his whole sad story.

Glass told Stain his: “You think it’s easy being a mirror?”

They became the best of friends.

In the middle land above the depths and away from the surface.

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All writings © Jan Donley 1985-2019
Printed from http://www.jandonley.net/journal/stain