21 August 2012

Sacha Mann – The Mittenfish Lives

The Mittenfish Lives

Did you know that tinned food was available thirty years before the invention of the tin opener? In much the same spirit, my feelings for Avery Whitbread exploded into being long, long before Avery had any idea that I existed.

For some queer and inexplicable reason, I loathed her: a vicious, voracious hate that only those of working-class lineage can feel for the ‘toffs’. She was pallidly perfect; peering down upon the rat race on the grimy street, from behind the lace of her townhouse windows, her grey eyes listlessly combing the smoggy throng, her driftwood-tinted locks hanging limply over her death-pallor cheeks. Gazing up at her lacklustre face from my shackles, an anvil and expectant horse owner, all the fire of hopeless idealism welled up uncontrollably then settled in the region of my knees; it was my first flush of bitterly tinted rage.

Did you know that radioactive armadillos were once considered as possible war weapons? The frantic grasping of straws that prompted that idea was incredible. It was with a similar taint of desperation that I canvassed the range of possibilities for justice and freedom for the working class. I still had no idea of what brought the fervour upon me, nor what exactly I wished to achieve, but youthful passion needn’t be reasonable; the only prerequisite is a strong opinion and belief in your own importance, of which I had both in quantities unimaginable. Avery’s languid face, one that I liked to use to symbolise the entire upper echelons of society (oh yes, I was prone to appalling generalisations), ran constantly through my dusty dreams, coal and iron-stained. Ridiculous schemes born more of vengeance than idealism (though the two are often intertwined), wove through my mind, and I’m ashamed to say that I caused their fruition. For a time, Avery knew me; oh, she knew me well. She could hardly fail to notice the violent riot that caused the smashing of her window and the defacing of her walls, nor could it escape her attention that I was the catalyst, at the head of the melee.

Did you know that in the US there are more plastic flamingos than real ones? I felt that was a perfect metaphor for my country, the plastic flamingos being the healthy population of the ‘upper class’, but now I’m not so sure, with a deflated head and the benefit of hindsight I suspect that it was I who was plastic, for my rose-tinted ideals were merely a mask for teenage angst.

Did you know that the Striped Mittenfish can change its sex by turning itself completely inside out? Well, I experienced a similar overhaul, in character rather than gender. I renounced my ideals in favour of a cosy job in government, preferring to fade into pleasant obscurity than lead. I clothed the bareness left by the now-void idealism with cynicism and accepted my comfortable middle-class position, gained through government service. Despite my arrogant efforts, my country’s strong caste system continues to run as an ever-present undercurrent of society.

I forgot Avery, wilfully dispersing stray fragments of envy, idealism and anger. I got on with life.

By Sacha Mann, Year 9 (Female)