Iowa Writes

KATIE SKINNER
Sylvana: My world's biggest fish


           This is my first time in Mammal Hall. Walking in a few steps through the doors, I am not surprised to see a cute little gift shop to my left. It's strategic marketing.
           Zipping my way past fellow classmates who are gazing up at the giant sloth, I find myself standing behind a large group of children, my waist high in height, listening to a man that works at the museum. We're all looking at a tank filled with a turquoise blue gelatinous substance representing water that holds seaweed, moss, sea flowers, and various sized fish. The biggest fish of all lives in this tank: an arthrodire. What in the world is an arthrodire? It's an extinct, flat, hollow-bodied fish that once roamed the seas. With its wide and large toothplates, any other fish crossing its path would wisely turn the other direction.

           This is my first time in Mammal Hall. Walking in a few steps through the doors, I am not surprised to see a cute little gift shop to my left. It's strategic marketing.
           Zipping my way past fellow classmates who are gazing up at the giant sloth, I find myself standing behind a large group of children, my waist high in height, listening to a man that works at the museum. We're all looking at a tank filled with a turquoise blue gelatinous substance representing water that holds seaweed, moss, sea flowers, and various sized fish. The biggest fish of all lives in this tank: an arthrodire. What in the world is an arthrodire? It's an extinct, flat, hollow-bodied fish that once roamed the seas. With its wide and large toothplates, any other fish crossing its path would wisely turn the other direction.
           My old classmate, Sylvana, came to my middle school in 5th grade. She was sweet at first, then transformed to a brute of an 11-year-old on the playground. It seemed to be routine to pick on the kids who were afraid of her. It's easy to find the weakest link and attack. And so that's what she did.
           "How big can this fish get?" asked a young boy wearing a red and blue Spiderman t-shirt.
           "As big as a school bus! The funny thing is, though, for as big of a fish this is, it only eats tiny fish. So he's not so scary, right?" said the lighthearted museum guide.
           Similarly, Sylvana never appeared to be so rough and tough to me. Her outer shell of evil was covering her tender, sensitive insides. How could I tell all the other kids that she, too, really isn't scary? How would all the little fish know that the big fish doesn't necessarily want to eat them?
           Metaphorically speaking, these school bus sized fish will appear in all different aspects of these kids' lives. I look at all the young, innocent faces that are astounded by the huge fish. Fear once filled the eyes of my classmate as Sylvana stormed her way, only to rip the jump rope right out of her hands, only for Sylvana to be left playing with the jump rope all by herself. As these kids may encounter many big, school bus sized fish in life, I hope they remember to step out in front of them. These big fish will act on their brakes sooner than you'd think.

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


KATIE SKINNER

Katie Skinner is a sophomore Dance and English double major at the University of Iowa.  Her interest in writing developed in the latter years of high school and focused on personal stories and experiences with dance.  Nonfiction applies greatly to her aspiring future: becoming a dance reviewer and critic after a hopeful career as a professional dancer.  In college, Katie is exploring other topics of interest and continuing to challenge herself as a writer.

This page was first displayed
on February 19, 2013

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