Mark Budman

Writer. Editor. Inventor.

The Unbearable State of Youth

My new novel-in-stories. Am looking for a publisher.

The opening.

The goldfish named Lyubov died in the middle of May. Delivering the eulogy, the certified interpreter of dreams and maladies, a most excellent immigrant and her legal guardian, declared that she died of a broken heart, in her sleep, and that she was golden through and through, up to and including her heart. He buried her under an old oak tree that shed acorns and rotten branches at the roof of his 10-year Subaru parked beneath it. He jerry-rigged a tombstone out of a thank you card, and wrote an epitaph: “She ate worms. Now, they eat her.”  In truth, she ate fish food, but he allowed himself a poetic license.

There were no attendants but a curious chipmunk, a chattering squirrel, and a neighboring cat gazing through the window.

Lyubov died alone in her comfortable and spacious aquarium despite plentiful fresh water, food and pumped air. Outside, the white and pink snow of the fallen petals tried to mask the damage done by winter to the sidewalks of Boston, and to the overpriced condos the interpreter could hardly afford.

In a Russian fairy tale, an old fisherman caught a goldfish, and she offered him three wishes in return for her freedom. Perhaps Lyubov, whose name meant “love” in Russian, had offered too, but her fisherman took the wishes and broke his word. Or perhaps she was born in captivity and never knew freedom. Or, maybe, the last wish of the fisherman was that Lyubov should spend the rest of her life in the aquarium of an old immigrant, and die there.

Or, maybe, she was not a goldfish at all, since gold is heavy, and yet when she died, she floated to the surface.

The interpreter, after giving Lyubov an honorable funeral, was driving away from it all, repeating silently the opening of his newly minted book “How to Heal the World in Seven Easy Steps.”

“The world is sick. Medically, politically and spiritually. Someone needs to heal it.  I can do it. I have the powers. I have the drive. No one asks me, so I volunteer.”

Actually, he minted only the first chapter. Even that wasn’t complete. He wrote the first seven sentences, and they existed only in his head so far, but they were brilliant, promising and uplifting. Next step was to write them down, upload to the cloud and bring down to earth for execution.