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The Fish Song

A father returns to his daughter.

By Skyler SaundersPublished about a month ago Updated about a month ago 3 min read
Top Story - April 2024
The Fish Song
Photo by Sebastian Pena Lambarri on Unsplash

The room didn’t smell like disinfectants. Its fragrance seemed light and not overbearing. A soft mixture of lavender and mint permeated the space. No beeping machines or any tubes hooked up to four-year-old Kaleeka. Her cacao skin seemed to glow from the light over her head. The family, save for one and the doctors and nurses exited the room like a trail of saints showing their last vestiges of regard.

Her father Parson Veek, 36, walked into the room. No other family members remained. Everyone else had already lifted their songs of respect and adoration. Just father and daughter. She awakened at his cologne which somehow did not clash with the scent already wafting through the enclosure.

“Daddy,” she said, her eyes still closed and her voice rather frail. She opened her eyes. They turned to saucers. She smiled. Veek leaned in and hugged his daughter. His eyes remained dry.


“Yes, Wonderful?”

“Let’s sing the fish song.”


She raised up slightly in the bed. Veek put his hands together like a little fishy that swam back and forth through the air like a clownfish swishing through the ocean. Veek and Keleeka smiled at each other. She had just enough strength to put her hands together, too, and made them flit through space as well.

“We’re just fish/ And have one wish!/ We want to be the best fish to be/ We want to be the best in the sea!”

Veek saw that Keleeka’s movements began to slow a bit. She, however, kept singing the tune over and over again, her voice turned whispery and light. Then, as if some electric charge coursed through her slight frame, she emphasized the word “sea!” with enthusiasm and even joy. Power flew through the room though she was still slight and delicate. What she had in her soul meant more than any illness. Each breath that she exhibited permitted her every measure of holding onto precious life. Her buoyant little smile and light laugh added to the charm of her small body and giant spirit.

Veek laughed but his eyes began to get teary. In his mind he imagined all of this playing out in real time. It was like a movie reel spooling into a puddle of memories snapped during all of the years since Kaleeka had been born. He saw his daughter and fixed her bow on her bald head.

“That was fun, Daddy.”

“You know you’re my love. You know that,” Veek asserted softly.

“I know, Daddy. I love you.” She placed her head back on her pillow and closed her eyes.

Veek looked at his watch. From the moment that he walked in, to the little duet, only a minute had passed. He walked to the door and looked at his wife and two other daughters as well as the nurses and doctor. Veek just closed his eyes and nodded his head once. No words exchanged. Something similar to telepathy surrounded the family and professionals. Tissues passed around like relics from a castle. Veek kissed his wife, Ranisha, 32, on the cheek as she kept a straight face, despite tears falling over her ebony skin.

Veek grasped her hand. He finally spoke.

“We’re going to be alright. She was a jetfighter pilot for this long. Our little girl was always game to get treatments. You know this.”

Veek’s other daughters Saneeka, six-years-old, and Raneeka, two-years-old, could understand the gravity of the situation but still kept quiet. Saneeka sobbed in silence against her parents' knees. The might of the moment, the overwhelming sense of what had played out left the family bereft of all vigor. They kept trying to light a flame of energy but each time the candle flickered and burned out with just a few sweeps of wind in time.

Veek squatted to be at the level of his daughters. “We’re going to be alright. We’re going to be alright.” He raised again and clasped his wife’s hand and they walked out of the hospital with an air that spoke of grace.

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About the Creator

Skyler Saunders

I’ve been writing since I was five-years-old. I didn’t have an audience until I was nine. If you enjoy my work feel free to like but also never hesitate to share. Thank you for your patronage. Take care.


Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insight

  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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Comments (12)

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  • Christy Munson3 days ago

    Congratulations on Top Story!

  • Anna 29 days ago

    Congrats on Top Story!🥳🥳🥳

  • Abdul Qayyum30 days ago

    loved this! Inspiring song

  • Melissa Ingoldsbyabout a month ago

    Very heartwarming and sad story, real and raw emotions tied to the dialogue

  • Fred Chungabout a month ago

    A well written sad story. It has moved me deeply.

  • Caroline Cravenabout a month ago

    Gosh, your story really choked me up. So sad, but beautifully written. Well done.

  • This comment has been deleted

  • D. D. Leeabout a month ago

    Heartbreaking and warming. Congrats on Top Story.

  • A. J. Schoenfeldabout a month ago

    Beautifully written and full of emotion. Favorite line: They kept trying to light a flame of energy but each time the candle flickered and burned out with just a few sweeps of wind in time.

  • Lacey Dearieabout a month ago

    This was truly an emotional read. Very well written!

  • Ameer Bibiabout a month ago

    Congratulations 🎉🎉 your story resonates with the universal experience of facing challenges as a family unit and the strength that can be derived from love and togetherness. It reminds us that no matter how tough the situation may be, we can find courage and comfort in the bonds we share with our loved ones.

  • Carol Townendabout a month ago

    That made me cry while reading. Such a heartbreaking story, yet beautifully told and written. Your story is a well-deserved Top Story.

  • Margaret Brennanabout a month ago

    congratulations on TS. This is horrifically sad and yet, so beautiful. GREAT writing and brings out so many emotions.

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