Goodbye little fish. We loved you. And ignored you. And forgot you were there most of the time.
We went on a lovely little vacation this week for spring break. As usual, our neighbor took care of the pets. But because we were furious with our cursed cat who doesn’t know where the litter box is, we decided to lock her outside. The nights were mild and we have our cozy new porch, so we didn’t feel too bad about it. I also put the fish tank on the porch, just to make things easier for our (unpaid) pet-sitter. Well, one of the fish didn’t survive the first night. Too much of a temperature change? Who knows. The thing was a year and a half old. Quite elderly for a $1.00 betta.
Initially, the kids didn’t seem to mind too much. After we got home we plucked the carcass from the tank and laid it in a little hole Violet dug in the flower garden. Graham helped cover it with dirt. Then Violet and I sat on the ground near the tiny grave. Graham sat in my lap.
“Well,” I said, “I’d like to say something nice about our fish, Phoebe, or Nayna… whatever its name was. Um… I really liked the way it fought with the other fish that time it jumped over the wall in its tank. That was cool. Violet? Would you like to say anything?”
“I liked the way it swam up to eat its food,” she said.
“Graham? What did you like about our fish?” I asked.
Then he burst into tears.
That poor kid sobbed for the rest of the afternoon. He had no idea what the fish’s name was, and never fed it, or looked in its direction. But he mourned the heck out of that thing. Even the next day his chin quivered as he said, “I still miss my fish.”
My sensitive boy. I hope this makes him tougher, because we’re about to bag the cat and throw her in the nearest creek.
UPDATE: The second fish, Nayna… or Phoebe, died a few days later. From a broken heart, I’m sure. Graham took it in stride.