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Polly’s Goldfish

Nikki Cox

Polly’s running so fast she can’t even believe it. This is ten out of ten fast. Weeeeeeeeeee she’s definitely faster than a cheetah. It’s like when she’s in the back of mum’s car going down the motorway and it’s so fast everything smudges together. All the colours are rushing past her now.





She stops running. She breathes hard, the cold air in and out and in and out. Ouch, it hurts. She wants a drink. There must be a fizzy pop stand somewhere. She blinks her eyes really tight and watches the shapes dance inside her head. Wicked!

When she opens them again the lights feel even brighter and she looks around trying to pick a ride. She can’t see the bumper cars anywhere. It’s the only ride she knows because once when her daddy came, when she was really tiny, he took them on the bumper cars and she was a bit sick. He never took her again. And her mummy doesn’t like the fair and neither does Pete or Mickey. They aren’t as fun as her. She is so fun.

The music would be nice if there wasn’t so much of it, Polly might have enjoyed tapping her foot to it. Polly likes Lady Gaga. She’s cool. Pete likes Eminem, like the sweets.

Eminem is mean and says swears. Polly says swears sometimes. Not hardly ever though.

She forgot how thirsty she was. The weird feeling is back in her mouth. She must have worn herself out running. And she didn’t have dinner.

A hot dog stand! YUMMY! She needs one of those so bad! She asks the man for a hot dog and yes please she really likes ketchup and two bits of onions, because the crunch is really nice but sometimes they fall down her top. Not mustard, it’s disgusting.

He says it’s £2.10. That’s tonnes! She didn’t even bring any coins at all. She’s gonna nick it. The greasy man who gave it to her shouts really loud but she sticks up two fingers at him like Mickey does, and runs off.

She sits behind a coconut stall and eats it quickly before someone nicks it and eats it themselves. She wipes her fingers on her jeans, because licking makes them stickier.


Oops. She stands up and looks around some more. There’s flashing lights and screams everywhere. If she closes her eyes, it’s like a zombie horror film. She runs around for a while and then sees the ride she wants. It’s so bright and fast! She’s going to sneak up on it carefully and get on without the stinky gypsies telling her she’s too short. ‘Don’t listen to them stinky gypsies Polly.’

Running fast like a cheetah again, she’s getting closer and the ride’s getting bigger in her eyes. She wants to go on it sooo bad. Her hands are shaking in the cold and she rubs them together and jumps up and down. It’s exciting. She’s going to go on the ride. She’s going to fucking do it! She shouldn’t say fucking, or even think it, but it’s exciting! It’s fucking exciting and mummy isn’t even here anyway.

She’s at the edge of the ride now and it’s massive like an elephant. Dodging between legs, she slips under the barrier and leaps into a seat, strapping herself in really careful because someone fell out once. She heard it on the telly.

The gypsy man doing the ride didn’t even see her! She’s so clever and fast. This is going to be the best ride ever. The ride starts to move. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! It’s making her tummy wobble.

The gypsy man is yelling at her.

She shouts a swear at him above the music and tells him to bog off. Then she squeals as the ride lurches forwards, moving quicker and quicker. Her yellow teeth glow luminous with colour as her grin widens and her stomach tightens. She laughs as her body is flung backwards. She’s flying up and down through the air like a wicked fairy or flying monster or something. It’s like magic. It’s pretty and sparkly, but also she feels a bit sick.

Spinning and spinning and spinning and spinning.

The ride shudders and Polly feels it vibrate through her bones and her brain. There’s a loud noise like a yawning dragon and it sounds like one might explode from underneath the ride. Polly makes sure she remembers dragons aren’t real and so she’s fine. Some people scream really loud. Polly doesn’t scream because she’s brave.

The ride doesn’t sound very happy.

The gypsy man shouts really loud and actually Polly feels a bit scared now because it doesn’t feel like magic flying anymore. It feels a bit like being in an aeroplane when you go over lumps of air. She screams a bit because the ride isn’t that fun now and she thinks about the crash on the telly. A girl fell out and died. Polly remembers she’s too small for the ride and thinks the word fuck again. The gypsy man is shouting more and more and she wishes he wouldn’t. With all the screaming and shouting and juddering it’s not fun anymore.

She thinks the word fuck really loud in her head. She wants to get off. She isn’t crying but she nearly is a little bit. Her bones hurt.

Her body feels weird. The ride slows down. She stops spinning but she’s still in the sky and she’s still upside down!

It’s the worst! She feels sick. At least it doesn’t sound like a dragon anymore. The gypsy man is still shouting. Polly tries to look upside down and sees him quickly getting people off the ride. She wishes she didn’t stop in the sky and it’s stupid she’s upside down because if she’s sick it might go in her hair.

Polly reckons she might be sick soon. Ewwwwwwwwww. Her tummy is sad.

She is actually crying now but she doesn’t care because it’s the scariest thing she’s ever done. She’s getting closer to the bottom now.

Come on come on come on.

The ride moves around and she’s dangling close to the ground. The gypsy man is nearly right in her face and she hopes he doesn’t shout at her because she’s already sad. She bets her hair is in a right tangle.

Polly stares at the gypsy’s dirty trousers. She’s finally at the bottom. He spins her back upright and Polly’s tummy lurches and she swallows some sick.

“What the hell are you playing at?!” he shouts in her face.

“Shut up stupid!” she yells. The gypsy man moves to grab her arms.

“Ahhhhhhh!” Polly screams and smacks him right in the gob. She jumps to the ground, dodges past him and runs really fast even though she’s going to be sick really soon and she really, really needs to get to a toilet before



She wipes her mouth.

The ride was scary actually. What if she died? Uh-oh…

She blinks and looks around.

You can win a goldfish in that game!


Polly needs a goldfish so bad. She runs over and tells the lady she lost her mum and the gypsy smiles and says she can have a free go because she’s a princess.

She isn’t a princess. That’s really stupid. Is she five or something? Gypsies are dumb.

But anyway, she gets a free go and she must be the luckiest girl alive because she didn’t even die on the ride and now she might get a goldfish!

She only hits one of the targets. Fuck!

Polly pretends to cry and the lady says she can have a goldfish anyway. She needs a name for it, she says. Polly reminds her it’s a fish and fishes don’t have names.

Are gypsies the most stupid people ever?

Polly loves her fish. She says bye to the lady and walks off nice and slow so the goldfish doesn’t get shaken about in the plastic bag.

She must take the fish home straight away and put it in the sink. Mum doesn’t like animals. She’ll ask Mickey to help her instead.

Polly speed walks the best she can. She grips the top of the bag and watches the little goldfish dangling in the water all the way out of the fair. For a while she can’t see the gap in the fence she came through because it’s too dark. She starts to panic in case she has to take the long way round home and the fish gets scared.

She finds the gap, ducks through the fence and onto the street where she lives. It’s really long and dirty. Normally there are kids kicking balls but tonight they’re at the fair. It’s deadly quiet like a horror film before a monster comes.

Polly’s house is small and brown and the gate is broken off and they never fixed it. The light of the telly is flashing through the curtains. Mum’s in the lounge. Polly will go straight upstairs so Mum doesn’t see.

Polly pushes the door open with her free hand.

Don’t think Mum even realised she left. Polly got away with it! Wicked. Even though Mum wouldn’t have known where she was if she died on the ride like off the telly. But she didn’t so it’s fine. And she has a fish.

“Polly what the fuck is that?” Mickey says.

“It’s a fish stupid.” Polly tries to walk past him up the stairs. “Go away back in the kitchen Mickey if you’re not gonna be nice.”

She runs up the stairs and into the bathroom. She shouldn’t get Mickey to help her because he’s got the mad eyes like he sometimes has when she gets home. She’ll look after the fish all by herself like a good mum.

Polly tries to think what fish food is. She remembers a book in her bedroom. She’ll know more if she reads that. Polly quickly fills the sink with water and leaves the fish floating in its plastic bag, bobbing up and down like a boat on the sea. Apart from it’s not a boat it’s a fish. Ha ha, it looks funny.

She goes into her room. She has seven books and a DVD but she can’t see the fish book. What she could do is look after the fish the best she can until tomorrow, then maybe at school she can go to the library and find a new fish book. Yeah. Wicked.

She hears Mickey and Pete laughing. Maybe if they’re in a good mood she should ask them about her fish.

Polly steps out of her room and realises their laughs sound echo-ey like they’re in the bathroom. She bets they find the fish funny because it’s bobbing up and down in the sink.

She pushes open the bathroom door.

Mickey and Pete are by the sink.

The fish is on the floor. It’s not in its plastic bag anymore.

Polly shouts at them really loud. “Don’t put my fish on the floor!”

“Mum don’t like pets,” says Pete. Polly wishes he would just shut up. Mickey and Pete walk out laughing.

She bends down and picks up the goldfish by its tail. It will probably be ok because fishermen put fish back in the sea after they catch them.

Polly really hopes it will be ok because she loves it. Orange is her favourite colour now. She plops it back in the sink, hoping it will wiggle like a worm and then swim again and be happy because the sink is bigger than its plastic bag.

It drops beneath the surface and slowly starts to fall. Polly watches it sink to the bottom. She stares as it lands on the plug and lays still. The orange looks really bright against the white of the sink.


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