Another Fish Story

This is something of a repeat topic in these parts, and frankly, we don’t like it. I am talking about the loss of a goldfish and the subsequent emptiness that at least one of us feels. I have discussed it with much more tenderness and sweetness in the past, but now I am starting to get frustrated. What’s the deal, goldfish?

Take a look toward the left side of the bowl, just at the waterline — that is Mr. Goldie III, as I found him this afternoon, only moments before I was to pick the boys up from school.

A couple of scenarios played out in my mind. The first included a quiet replacement of the poor fish without his owner, my youngest son, being alerted to the situation, but I quickly outvoted myself as such a charade wasn’t respectful to either the fish or the kids. Goldie III deserved better than that.

The other option was to bury the fish at sea, or septic as the case may be, and break the news to Zane with promises of Goldie IV and an hour supply of tissues for his tears.

He didn’t cry nearly as much as I had anticipated, which concerned me for a moment. Was he so desensitized and callused by a violent society that he could no longer mourn the loss of a friendship that had been two days in the making?

Those two glorious days with Goldie III had followed immediately upon the fins of Goldie II having lived the entirety of a short car ride home from the Fall Festival gaming booth where he had met his boy by virtue of a quick release and the fortunate bounce of a ping-pong ball. The ride was full of innocence and promise.

Goldie II had not died in vain, because his mere presence had rekindled a little boy’s desire for a pet fish, and also the necessity on my behalf to clean out the shed in search of a bowl to keep him in. Goldie II was gone when he hit the water, and despite the careful care of a little boy and his tearful insistence that the fish had been swimming sideways just moments before, I couldn’t help but feel it was all so much destiny.

Goldie III was purchased at a popular chain pet store, along with the treatment, rocks, and decor needed to make our old bowl feel sleek and modern enough for a hip, young fish. We took him home, followed every detailed instruction that I had insisted the fish department manager provide us, and exhaled a deep breath when Goldie III took to his new house swimmingly.

And he was still swimming the next day and well into the night.

This morning, as I sang to the boys some silly little song in hopes it might inspire them to stir, I noticed that Goldie III was still among the living, and I allowed myself, for the first time in a long time, to feel a tinge of hope that he might make it past the pages of now and well into the chapters of a childhood being written.

I believed it until I found him floating in the photo posted above, and then I wondered if I could ever believe in anything again.

When I told Zane that Goldie III was no longer with us he didn’t cry. He just put his head down and walked to the car where his brother stood waiting. There would be another trip to the pet store, and there would be another try for happiness.


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