012 - fast way
"Think about fish," she said. So, he did.
His experience with fish had been limited to those found in tanks. He lived far away from the ocean, rivers, or any nature at all. In his city, in his apartment building, all he had ever seen were fish in tanks.
The fish had been all sorts of colors and sizes. Sometimes the surroundings in tanks had been nice, imported tropical rocks with fluorescent lighting surrounded fluorescent, imported tropical fish.
Most of the fish he had seen had just been ordinary goldfish though. These goldfish lived in ordinary little tanks, maybe with an ordinary little castle at the bottom, if the fish was lucky.
He tried to imagine if this were his entire existence. Forced within the confines of small walls. Constantly looking outward to a world that seemed infinitely larger, but never being able to grasp it, to feel it, to live it. The goldfish got by, they got their little flakes of food, maybe even once in a while a proactive goldfish could score the prize of a fly that had landed on the surface for a quick respite. But that was it.
The castle didn't make things any better. The illusion of security, perhaps, but it was just another way of confining oneself while already in confinement. The water inside the castle would be the same as the water outside; the same old, stale water that had lost its nutrients and ability to sustain life long ago.
He thought about this, and then suddenly felt bad for all those goldfish that he had ever seen. If he were a goldfish, he decided, there would be no reason to live. It's no wonder that goldfish give up the ghost, and their owners return to find them floating belly up in their prison home.
The carcass usually ends up transferred floating belly up in the tank to belly up in the toilet bowl, a few seconds before being flushed through a seemingly endless circuit of plumbing and pipes. At first he thought this practice was one final injustice, a final disrespect of the goldfish.
Then he realized that indeed, it was, but not for the reasons he originally though. The final injustice was the fact that only in death the goldfish was given something new, even if traveling through pipes hardly seemed like a glamorous change, at least it was some sort of fresh, and that's all a goldfish would want.
Then he stopped thinking about goldfish, and he went outside.