When I walked in the door he was crying so hard you would have thought someone had died. Then I found out someone had died. Only, that wasn’t why he was crying. He wasn’t crying because someone he loved had died. He was crying because “DADDY FLUSHED HIM DOWN THE TOILET BEFORE I COULD DRAW HIM!”
And that’s how I found out that Mr. Fish had bit the dust.
Mr. Fish, we got you at a school carnival back when Snags was three. You were small, no longer than half an inch, I think. And orange, that typical goldfish orange color. You were swimming around in a plastic cup, hoping not to get bonked on the head by a ping pong ball tossed by little hands. But you were. Snags landed a ball in your cup, and you were knocked on the head and likely a little stunned. Some of the water in your cup sloshed out, but you were his. Someone manning the “Win a Fish” game dumped you into a baggie and you came home with us, glub-glubbing along, eyes bulging, but ever the strong one. I imagine that you were still in a daze from that ping pong ball. We set you up in a fish tank all by yourself and with all that space and no other fish to fight with over food, you grew and grew into the size of a small Mrs. Paul’s filet. And yet, we didn’t eat you. We kept you. We fed you. We loved you. Eventually we moved you into a larger tank and got you some friends. Snags insisted on that, he didn’t want you to be lonely.
But tonight my husband found you floating listlessly at the top of the tank. If all the fish were playing a game where they were imitating letters of the alphabet, I understand that you were pretending to be the letter “U”, folded floppily in half, bobbing ever so slightly by the miniature current made by the tank’s air bubbles. So my husband scooped you out. He didn’t want your rotting remains to bump into the other fish, so he scooped you out and flushed you down the toilet.
You should know that Snags cried. And cried and cried and cried and cried. Then he sobbed incoherently for an hour more. I thought, at first, that he was overcome with sadness at your death. But it turns out that he was furious with his father for flushing you down the toilet. He wanted to draw a picture of you. A picture of your sad and lifeless body floating in the toilet…
I’m glad he couldn’t find his camera. I fear that he will grow up to take photos of the dead in their caskets. Photos of me, perhaps. He’ll print them out on his home printer and take them to work to share with his co-workers. He’ll say, “Doesn’t Belle look so peaceful?” and his co-workers will think, “FREAK!”
Or maybe he will grow up to be a crime scene artist… I am not sure why it was so important that he capture you all bent in half and floating like that. Something in a six-year old’s mind…
He is still barely talking to his father. He claims that he is so mad he won’t buy his father a birthday present. I tried to reason with him through the tears. “Maybe Daddy didn’t hear you say that you wanted to draw him,” I suggested. Snags responded by deciding that if he does decide to buy his father a birthday present, he will buy him a hearing aid so he can hear him scream “STOP! I WANT TO DRAW HIM!” the next time a fish bites the dust. His father’s birthday is in November. It’s January right now. I hope he forgets this whole ordeal, forgives his father, by then. I suppose I ought to raise his allowance a bit so he can save more money between now and then. If he does decide on the hearing aid, well I think those things are pretty expensive.
Good bye Mr. Fish. I hope you made it through the pipes okay.