All Stories, General Fiction

Elon by Olivia Parkinson

The day she left me, she left the fish. The gloopy, dead-brained goldfish sitting in our room. My room now, fuck her. I don’t miss her. She used to ask her if I missed her when she went away in the summer- not really I’d say, she’d come back in three weeks. That made her cry. Why do people cry when you tell the truth?

Elon stares those melting button eyes, the wide, gooey mouth always surprised. He’s not surprised… And Elon’s not the name of a fish. Children name their fish after Nemo, psychopaths name their fish after Elon Musk. So I would’ve broken up with her anyway.

His dead eyes remind me of her and I feel all my organs fail, falling back on the bed. The pillow smells of her. I feel sick. The smell of her makes me sick and I should’ve broken up with her first. Old marmite sticks to my face from the pillow case. She told me to wash them- I want a girlfriend not a mother.


I knock the glass, throw his fish pellets down in the swamp. She’ll come collect him today and I’ll tell her I don’t love her. I never did- and here’s Elon. He swishes smugly in the algae, fat stomach swelling those translucent organs.

Smug, smug bastard, mouth mocking, opening and closing: ‘don’t move in with your girlfriend at uni!’ She loved you more than me. I’ll flush you down the toilet. I bang the glass thinking of all the girls who gave me the eye at student nights when I was with her. I put a towel on the tank. I hear his tail cut through the water.


I wake up with my phone flashing news alerts: Elon Musk- Tesla shares drop 10%. I lift the towel. Elon’s still swimming. Slower now. The slow swim of death. I hope he’s dead when she arrives. She’ll tell me she’s sorry and I’ll hand her the dead fish.

I feel better now. I do. There’s freedom in loneliness. I do sixteen push-ups. She’ll be sorry when I’m shredded. I’m not lonely, anyway.

I curl on the carpet to stop the sickness. My stomach’s solid, heavy pain, crawling burning sickness up my throat. She’s posted an Insta with Tom from Geography. She wants me to see it. I block her. Elon’s hiding in his fish house. I hate him. I hate him. I hate him. I won’t flush him. I want him wasting, wretching with a bladder infection. I unblock her and stalk Tom’s extended family on Facebook. One of them’s a dwarf.

I think about waking up with her in the morning and I know I love her.


Tesla shares drop another 3% because Elon Musk called a rescue diver a pedo. I still haven’t left the house. I remember a girl on my course telling me she liked my sliders and I slide into her DMs. She’s too nice and I feel the sickness again and delete all social media.

I think, I start to think, maybe she’s not coming for the fish… Maybe she forgot… Maybe she remembers and doesn’t care.

I stab a stubby finger on the glass, waiting for the golden tail in the swamp. Elon meets my eyes. His scales are turning black. His lucid stomach bloats under his back, a hanging sack of tangled, distended organs. The sad eyes bash the glass. The loneliness. His mouth blubs. He knows he’s going to die. Don’t die. Don’t die. Don’t die.

I google, fishkeeping, goldfish-emergency. Swim bladder infection. You can’t let him float to the top, if he floats to the top he’ll die, but he floats to the top and I keep prodding him back down. I clean the filter. I scrub the glass. I change the water because I can’t let him die like this. Forgotten.

He floats, blubbing and bulging, peeling black scales into the swamp. I make him a life jacket with gorilla tape and a half inflated balloon, dragging his body in the water, the little tail kicking. It’s us. It’s me and you, Elon. You can’t die. You won’t die or you’ll leave me. I start to cry. I love that fish. I always loved that fish. And he’s dying and she doesn’t even know.

I swim him round the tank until the balloon deflates.


Soon Elon Musk will send humans to Mars. He’s also dating hip-hop artist Grimes. 

Elon’s body floats on the water. He’s dead, but his scales are turning gold again.

I flush him down the toilet and I don’t cry this time. He deserved more. He deserved love- he got the loneliness of his own reflection. I should tell her. I need to tell her and I need to tell her I love her and I need to change. I want more laughter and kissing at the station and softness. Soft love staring at the ceiling with her head on my chest.

I shouldn’t forget birthdays, forget to call. I shouldn’t called her grandma a racist cunt when I get drunk.

I look at the toilet bowl. I will be better.


I buy a new goldfish at the pet shop and I carry it in a bag to her house. I knock on her door and wait. She opens the door, looks in my hand. She says he’s smaller than he used to be. I love you.

I step inside, and I give her the fish back.


Olivia Parkinson

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3 thoughts on “Elon by Olivia Parkinson”

  1. A great story that plays on the confusion of relationships and mixed up emotions misrepresented by love!
    You can’t keep a goldfish for ever, like the fleeting nature of hormones. Mind you no one has blackmailed me with a fishy friend, so perhaps the love for our little water creatures is fraught with emotional turmoil – you need to feed them and the guilt, oh the guilt – when over night they float dead.
    A woman who loves her fish more than me is just fine, but don’t ask me to clean out the fish tank.


  2. Hi Olivia,
    I think this is the first story that we have published that has been so pet fish orientated.
    We are immersed into the story and in a weird way, don’t judge. As Doug says, we’ve all been there one way or another.


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