The two figures bathed in blue light. On the other side of the glass, tropical fish with unpronounceable names swam by, regularly hid away among the corals, peeked out and resumed swimming.
"Do you think the fish know?"
Adriano looked away from the aquarium and at the girl standing by his side, hand feeling his chin like a philosopher.
"Like, do they realise we're looking at them? Do they think we're predators?"
It was Marie's turn to touch her chin and give a faint huh sound.
"I think," she paused, eyes again finding the water, "I don't think they can see us. Oh, look at that one!"
The girl took a step closer and pressed her face to the glass - or at least went as far as he could without stepping beyond the red cord that surrounded the glass. The fish she pointed at was blue and black with a yellow tail. Adriano struggled at first to find it and then to find why Marie was so fascinated with it, but he chose to play along anyway.
"Ah, yeah that's the..." He took a step towards the plaque with all of the fish names and photos. "That's... Uh..." Paracanthurus hepatus. "Para..." He gave a nasal laugh, gave up on pronouncing it.
The evening was not unpleasant. It would have been unpleasant had Adriano been with anyone else (or worse, by himself) but at least with Marie he found that drifting through rooms only to look at fish he could hardly tell apart, all doing the same exact mindless swimming, was bearable. Had Marie asked him to take her out to see fish he would have taken her to the fish market; more exciting and tangible and with the added bonus of finding lunch. What did those tropical fish even taste like? He doubted Marie thought of that. Depressingly, it was yet another difference he saw between them. Marie was an intellectual from a good family, she could likely pronounce all those bizarre fish names and the equally bizarre names of the countries they hailed from. She must have thought about how mesmerising the colours and patterns were. All Adriano thought about was food.
"Which one's your favourite so far?"
Adriano's question made Marie look away from the water, an enthusiastic grin spread across her lips.
"I liked the dolphin skeleton."
"Out of the living ones!"
Marie laughed that laugh Adriano loved, that laugh that always made him smile without fail.
"Man, you're so morbid..."
"But it was cool! It's the closest they have to a real dolphin!"
The two's banter was interrupted by a stampede of children running into the room, followed by exhausted-looking adults telling them to watch their step. Adriano blew air from his cheeks, felt the back of his neck in annoyance. Right on my day off... The sentiment was reflected by Marie, who raised her voice to be heard above the children's screams of wonder.
"Let's go see the stingrays!"
Adriano hesitated for a second as he tried to remember what stingrays were; the effort showed on his face, as it always did.
"The pancakes with a face." Children continued pouring into the room, threatening to push out the only other two people there. "Come on!"
It took Adriano a second to realise what was going on. He only did because Maria grabbed his hand. Marie grabbed his hand. A deep blush formed on Adriano's face and he immediately looked away and at the field trip organisers who looked about ready to collapse. Marie giggled and dragged him along like a commander steering a ship.
"Sure! I love stingrays!"