#171 Rainbow Fins

by Clara Waibel

Mamma once told me that a late bloom is the most beautiful of all. I replied “Mamma, I don’t know much ‘bout blooming, but it sure doesn’t feel beautiful.”

Being the only kid of the school with colorless fins is tough. All others got ‘em nice and shiny; green, red . . . Billy Montenegro even got a rainbow, a beauty to look at, like peering into a rave of colors through shattered eyes. His scales are real nice too, all gold and red. Mine are all dull and green. Billy and I don’t talk no more, but we used to be best friends. He does call me a good-for-nothing fry from time to time.

One day, I crossed all of Cellar Reef, deep into the wastelands, only to stop in front of Mr. Barnaby’s cave. The old hermit waltzed out, his eight legs moving of their own accord. He looked down at me and crackled a laugh—or maybe he was coughing, I couldn’t really tell.

“Boy, happiness lies in not letting others tell you who you are.”

Did he know me?

“But Mr. Barnaby, it’s so hard! I’m different than everybody else!”

He blinked one of his beady yellow eyes at me and said “Exactly.”

So I started seeing myself through my own eyes, and soon enough I got some nice new friends. Not much time later, a beautiful dusk came down my fins. And Billy? He still has his rainbow, but you see, that’s all he’s got.

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