The Sister’s phone rings.
“Hello? Why… what? What happened?”
I look up in concern as she walks around, flapping her hands in distress. “This is awful!” she exclaims. “Poor, poor Pop!”
Pop the office goldfish has died. There seem to be strange things happening in The Sister’s workplace, as this is the third fish fatality in just two days. The entire staff has gone into mourning, apart from the one who thought it would be amusing to put a deceased Snap into The Sister’s desk drawer this morning. The Sister was considerably less amused.
I am interested to note that Snap, Crackle and Pop died in the correct order, according to the usual grouping of these words. It’s almost as if they knew. And it will make the inscription on the headstone scan so much better than if, say, Crackle had died first.
“We thought that it was Pop’s fault at first,” explains The Sister, her voice tinged with sadness and regret. “He was black, and the other two were orange. There was a rumour going around that he had been bullying them because of their skin colour. But now he’s dead, too… Loz has just discovered his body. She’s devastated. We didn’t expect him to die, once he’d killed the other two. Turns out he was innocent.” She pauses, looking guilty. “He wasn’t a racist fish.”
We take a moment of respectful silence in memory of Pop.
“Will there be a funeral?” I ask politely, uncertain of what else to say in a serious situation like this. The Sister does not reply, as she is preoccupied with sending her boss a text to inform him that Pop has passed away. We think it was peaceful, she assures him, trying to cushion the blow.
I once thought that it was only my workplace that was quite surreal and generally detached from normality. Now I’m not so sure.