Funny stories in under 500 words.


Hmm... What's that smell? Must be this funny story written by Elizabeth Lacey. Originally from New Jersey, she's a student at Cornell University with a major in biological sciences, general biology with a minor in creative writing, fiction. Her work can be found on

I acquired Killian Jones—a male, half moon betta fish—when I went to my local Staples for printer ink. After spending $44 too much on both black and colored ink for my subpar printer, I exited out onto the shopping plaza. I saw the blue and red lights of PetSmart illuminating the cold Ithaca pavement, and I knew I couldn’t resist entering the store.

I instantly bee-lined over to the fish tanks. Some background: I was born in the month of March, making me a Pisces. Consequently, I've always felt a special connection with fish and their aquatic kin. No, I'm not crazy. Humans evolved from aquatic blobs, didn't we? No seriously, did we? I can't remember. Either way, if you can eat calamari after watching Finding Nemo, then you are too narrow-minded to experience the joys of intimacy, friendship, and Ellen DeGeneres.

Anyhow, I went over to PetSmart’s selection of fish and saw a white, iridescent betta with splotches of aquamarine. Instantly, I knew that had fallen in love.

I left that shopping center with much more than printer ink. Sadly, the printer ink lasted a week longer than my dear Killian.

I supposed Killian Jones had a heart attack when I used the net to take him out of his tank for his weekly cleaning. I loved caring for him. I guess I cared too much. His body seized and bobbed in the cup of bubbly Cornell water. For a while, I still thought he was alive. His paper-thin fins twitched. Given my biological knowledge, I attribute the occurrence to rigor mortis.

I avoided texting my friends the news. I was too embarrassed, too sad, it was all just too sudden. The only person I told was one of the guys I had been talking to on Tinder.

He asked me what was going on and I replied that my fish had passed. I explained Killian Jones' funeral: Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, a donation to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and a touching toilet flush. Being a gentleman, he offered his condolences and offered to come over to make me feel better.

Normally, this level of forwardness would put me off. However, I admit, I was in a dark place, and I really needed the company. We drank Svedka mixed with V8 since he couldn’t find lemonade in the Indian bodega. We watched season four of The Office, cuddled up on the rented couch. At the end of the night, we went down on each other. Long. Too long? No, never too long.

During our post-ecstasy snuggle, I went to kiss his cheek. I caught a smell that was both sweet and anemic. I held him tightly as my eyes began to water.

“What?” he asked me.

“Nothing,” I said, knowing he'd be gone soon too.



  1. And by 'touching toilet flush' I was like a fish on a hook.

  2. But it was the 'Svedka mixed with V8' and the 'rented couch' that together really clinched the deal for me.