Snuggle up to her koi, Annie did but didn’t like it. Slither up—surely a better word to describe the love between a twenty-something pisces and her pesce—Annie did and enjoyed it more precisely. Mwaw-mwaw for air, the fish mimed mute; mwaw-mwaw for love, Annie bussed back. And that little orange spot on the fish’s forehead twinkled like a star while the koi, with its left eye, then with its right, watched Annie mouth a lovely, lethal bedtime story.

 In a time once upon, lived a koi fish in a pond.

 Turn the page, Annie did. Mwaw-mwaw

 In the sun the koi sparkled, red-golden spangled.

 Turn the page, Annie did. Mwaw-mwaw

 Stare up with left, stare up with right. Smiling creature shadows strobe-stroked light.

 Turn the page, Annie did. Mwaw-mwaw

 To leave, the koi longed; break its waterskin and fly.

 Turn the page, Annie did, to a PAPER POP-UP KOI. Mwaw-

Slither in, Annie did to her paper pop-up koi. Painted scales and fixed mwaw mouth, she kiss-coloured blue and blew good night. She tickled her alarm clock for a quarter past six and Skype-chatted awhile with a headless e-stralian. She scribbled the words “olive juice” on a Starbucks napkin—because she loved black-on-brown words that looked like “I love you” on mute. She held it—and her koi—up to the camera.

“Mwaw-mwaw,” Annie mouthed to her dry-as-paper koi. “Olive juice,” she mouthed to the headless e-stralian, leaving blue liquid lips, here and there and here, on the laptop screen.