Fish Ralph- Chapter 1

I originally wrote this last year, but thought I would share as a completely different example of my fiction. I’m still working on this one, because there are many, many people waiting to see what happens to Sarah.


My name is Sarah Silverman, but I am not that Jew from television. I am that Jew from Anyone Famous Middle School. It’s not really called that, but it doesn’t matter. All you need to know is that AFMS is in some crap town in the middle of Texas, and I’m the only Jewish person I know. And my name is freaking SARAH SILVERMAN.

Ok, so I take that back. I know three other Jews. There’s my mom, Ruth, my dad, David, and my little brother, the originally named David Michael. Our house is average-sized, but not because we can’t afford more. It’s that my mom and dad both had rich parents growing up, and they said something about not communicating if we weren’t forced to. Whatever. I would knowingly, gladly sell all of these people for a door with a lock. Yes, that’s right. David Michael and I aren’t allowed to have locks on our doors until we turn 18. That makes my lock four years closer than his, and I’m marking each day with a big red X on the wall calendar in my room.

Oh, my room… It gives me a little thrill whenever I think of it. When I was 10, my parents said that I could design my room any way I wanted (without knowing that their daughter had such expensive taste). I pored over design catalogs for months until I finally had what decorators call “a vision.”

The top parts of my walls are exactly the shade of pink that you think a pink elephant would be. The bottom half is Texas A&M maroon. The chair rail border is a deep teal. When I describe this to people, invariably they always say, “so you want to live in an Indian restaurant?” Yes. Yes, I do. There are jewel-tone pillows on the floor, and my bed is a futon mattress. My shelves are white built-ins that my dad helped me with- he doesn’t, and shouldn’t, trust me with a saw. There are prints of Ganesh in every pose possible, and the piece de resistance? A teapot my mom ordered me all the way from INDIA. When I make tea, I pour the hot water over the teabags, and just for a moment, I feel like a real Bollywood princess.

Not that being a princess counts for much around here.

My dad is a carpenter, always covered in sawdust, a pencil over one ear, and his head permanently stuck in the clouds. A spaceship could land in our yard and little burritos could walk out before my dad even noticed that something was odd. Case in point: a few years ago, I wrecked my bike trying to use the half pipe at the skate park. There is blood dripping from my face to my feet. I wheel my bike up to the garage, its kickstand at a rakish angle, and my dad says, “Geez, Sarah… is your bike ok?” Smooth move, Dad.

My mom is a doctor. I’d tell you her specialty, but it’s obscure and you’d put the book down before I could explain it. The point is that my mom keeps it together around here, but she runs a tight ship. There is no special treatment, especially on sick days. In her mind, there is nothing medically sound about staying home to nurse an illness. Sleep does not cure anything. There is medication for everything that is wrong with you. Unless there is bodily fluid coming out, and even then, at a rapid pace, there is no excuse for staying home from school. Only once has that plan backfired. When I was in second grade, I had what I thought was a bad cold. My mom gave me some cold medicine and sent me off to school. About 11 AM, my dad gets a call. “Hello, this is Helena Busybody from Eccentric Elementary School. Could you come and get Sarah? She has vomited in the class fish tank.” People still talk about the day I killed Punk Finn, only by now, the fish was begging for his life before I callously covered him in used grape soda. I will probably be called “Fish Ralph” for the rest of my life.

My mom and dad both say it won’t last forever, that there is life after middle school, but I have my suspicions. Parents are practically paid to tell you that. I mean, they wouldn’t be very good parents if they told the truth… something akin to “when I was six years old, I flushed an orange down the toilet and flooded the entire first grade. Then, when I was 35, I ran into one of my classmates… who only recognized me as “Fruit Flush.” IF there is life after something like that, it’s not that people forget. It’s that you can laugh about it, too. But only if you are the CEO of some big fancy company and you can cover up your pain with a brand new Prius, for which you wrote a check. I think I read it in a book once- “laughing all the way to the bank.” Right now, I can only laugh my way to the 7-11, because there is exactly $7.46 in my account. That’s right, baby. The only thing “Fish Ralph” can buy to cover her embarrassment is a Big Gulp and some Doritos (which goes a long way, actually).

Did I really just refer to myself in the third person?

There is nothing worse than being the narrator of your own story and realizing that there are so many quirks you never knew you had. For instance, in these first few paragraphs alone, I’ve changed tenses about a billion times. How do I know that? Because my hippy dippy 8th grade English teacher (who insists that we call her by her first name… whatever) never shuts up about it. “If you can’t write properly now, you won’t be able to write properly in high school. And NONE of you are going to escape from this class if you won’t. Because God knows it’s not because you can’t.” Miss Witkov, I mean, Karen, used to be a writer at some magazine in New York. How she ended up in Nowhere, Texas is anyone’s guess. We have our theories, but none of them ever seem to match up to the insanity that moving from Manhattan to Nowhere requires. One of the better ones is that her husband was a New York Met, so when they divorced, she moved so she could start all over and not have to tell a soul that her ex plays on such a horrible baseball team.

And we’ve arrived at another of my quirks. I have ADD, which doesn’t make me climb the walls if I have to sit still, but it does make me tell stories that jump off into tangents upon tangents until I forget what I originally wanted to tell you.

Another case in point: where was I? Oh, yeah. I was talking about my family and rudely interrupted myself to talk about the craptastic study in humiliation that middle school has been. We talked about Dad, we talked about Mom… so I suppose it’s time we talk about David Michael, whom I lovingly refer to as “Seven of Nine.” It’s a character on this old show that my parents watch, called “Star Trek” or “Star Trivia” or something. But the reason I call him that is out of nine times he’s come up to bat in Little League, he’s hit someone with the ball. The pitcher, the catcher, the referee, the water boy, his coach, the other team’s coach, and in a stunning array of athletic dexterity, a man in the bleachers. Behind the fence. On the bottom row. David Michael’s baseball career is, to put it kindly, somewhat limited.

Which is a good thing that he’s a genius. And by genius, I am not being an adoring big sister. It’s annoying to have a younger brother in Mensa. When I was eight, I came home to David Michael rearranging my books in alphabetical order, because he was returning “Brave New World” and couldn’t stand “the mess on my bookshelf.” When I was nine, my brother invented an iPod battery that would last four weeks at a time. He’s got quite a fortune stashed away in a trust somewhere, which makes it easier to be nice to him. Nothing creates a brother/sister bond more than “I’m going to be rich, and you probably won’t.” I can picture it now… David Michael rolling up to my old, beat-up Mitsubishi in his brand new Bentley. Or at least, I could if he had any interest at all in such things. David Michael will probably end up buying some sort of video game company just so he can go into the office and call it work, while I am working at Wendy’s and trying to finish a screenplay that will almost certainly go straight to Spielberg’s desk. I think he’s looking for new material. I saw War Horse.

All that’s pretty far away, though. I’m 14. I only have one friend that’s already dedicated her life to something. MaryEllis, whose name is comical only because she has a slight lisp, was hand-picked to go to this gymnastics academy in Houston to train for the Olympics. She was excited about it right up until she got there. From then on, she’d just call and when I’d pick up the phone, start wailing about how miserable she is and how it’s all going to be worth it when she’s standing on that podium even though she’s going to have to lose 10 more pounds. No, thank you. She can go on eating rice cakes until she’s a wig on a stick if she really wants gold that bad. Me? I’m takin’ my time.

I should at least wait to decide what I want to do with my life when I have time to think about it by myself. In my room. With a lock on the door.

5 thoughts on “Fish Ralph- Chapter 1

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