Complements and clear on clear on clear.
The princess is on her knees in front of the fishbowl. It catches the light and tosses it about in obscure, ethereal beams that flash vague turquoise on the linoleum and the plain, white walls, but she doesn't focus on the pretty patterns they make. The water is blue from food coloring-she wanted the water to be blue, not clear, because when she had seen the ocean the water had not been clear. She had figured that it was just all kinds of clear piled on top of itself that made blue, like ice; so she had colored it, and simulated what there was not enough clear to make. There is a bit of coppery gold, a polished metallic orange, drifting near the surface; the harmony of the contrasting colors, blue and orange, is pretty. She appreciates this, but the fish is not flashing around in its usual lively way. It hovers near the surface instead, and the princess loses interest when there is no movement; the water is still. The marbles are still, and the little flags on the little castle do not wave in that floating way they do when the fish parts the waters in his flight-below-the-air. She rocks back on her heels and pushes herself up, standing. She has had the fish for about six months, and it did not quite bore her. She enjoyed it casually, and had actually become quite attached to it in an off-handed sort of way-but now it is not moving, and she's lost interest. She doesn't think about it anymore.
It is three weeks later when Kira stops by to make sure she is still breathing and eating well, to see that she has enough water and cartons of milk that have not gone sour; that he walks in and pinches his nose and looks around. She is on the couch, flipping through a picture book. She is bored, but occasionally her eyes light up the way they do only if she is, at the very least, mildly interested in something. That is not very much, however, because so little interests her these days.
Kira says, "When did Fiji die?"
The princess looks up at him, vaguely surprised. He has a key to her apartment and never knocks, usually, unless there is someone with him.
She looks at the book again, purses her lips, and then sets it aside with a last look at the gold-and-green tiling she had been studying with much scrutiny.
"I thought," she says quietly, and then her eyes are suddenly very wet and her voice is quiet and rolling, a bit of a crumble to the edges--"that he was sleeping."
He scoops the foul-smelling thing out of its bowl-it is quite fetid now-and pours out the water and flushes the fish, and the princess pointedly does not watch.
He tosses the bowl in the trash and goes to sit by her.
She glares, and it holds power even beneath her guilty tears.
He coughs. "Lulu."
She draws her knees to her chest and doesn't say anything, so he puts his arm around her. He says, "Pets aren't really a great investment for you, dear."
She doesn't answer, but the shame that is plainly red on her face tells what she won't admit, not when it is something so obvious.
She glances back at the stand where the little shaker of fish food had stood, empty with a thin coat of dust; but he has already thrown it out.