A True Fish Story

My heart sank for a moment as I stared at her lying flat on the floor not moving. My beloved pet fish had seemingly tasted the presence of gravity to her own demise. The picture in my mind of her tumbling from the tank to the floor was not one I wanted to entertain. The cold reality of her unfortunate demise was a shocking revelation of how much I had grown to care for my finned friend. I had to gather my senses… there she lay in her lifeless state… I felt so powerless, but I had to do something.

I began to reminisce as I proceeded to the cupboard to grab a napkin to shield my hands from the slime that I knew would adhere when I picked her up. I recalled the noise that stirred me from sleep that morning - though I couldn't distinguish the sound of her flopping on the carpet; instead I presumed it to be possibly a bird fluttering on the screen. My bewilderment quickly gave way to the routine morning demands. I decided to make my way to the coffee pot and dismissed the noise all together. I was totally unaware of what I was about to discover.

If only I had investigated the noise I heard earlier. My feelings of guilt started to mount. Those thoughts were quickly overcome by my macho image “Oh come on, be a man, it's just a fish for god sakes!” Nevertheless, I could not ignore my sentiment at the time. As I unrolled a fair amount of paper towel preparing for the inevitable dirty deed, I contemplated my task at hand. She had grown to the length of twelve inches, so I was thinking, “it may take both hands, but since she is dead, I should be able to do it with one using good balance, slippery and all.”

The astonishing rush of feelings and emotions encumbered my mind all at once. The overwhelming awareness of the three years of raising her was fast becoming a memory. We named her “Olivia”, and she was no ordinary fish. I had only briefly witnessed the subtle fish qualities of an Oscar breed, and never truly contemplated the personal attachment I would have to this finned creature. Over time she became an attraction to anyone who entered our house. Upon entering, the aquarium which inhabits the large Tiger Oscar stood front and center. Our acquainted friends would greet her as a member of the family. I had already concocted the remorseful explanation I would give to a faithful friend of Olivia's. There was no doubt that she recognized him the moment he entered our house; fish aren't supposed to do that! He was the only one that seemed to get her really stirred up; she would act like a puppy, always ready to play when he arrived. Yes, the bad news will surely touch his soul.

I reached down and commenced to scoop her up, and was suddenly startled by the immediate force of her jumping from my hand. She was certainly moving now! This did not appear to be some post-mortem convulsion emanating from a dead fish. She's Alive! I was utterly amazed by the possibility that she could have survived this ordeal, so I instinctively grabbed her with two firm hands and dropped her back into the tank. There was little hope that she would recover as she slowly descended to the bottom. Perhaps I was too quick to rule out miracles? My girlfriend comforted me with verbal assurance; “we would get a new Pond Puppy soon” I could not let myself surrender just yet. So I replied, “We must give her a chance”, then I decided to send her a prayer.

It was a rather humorous event that transpired that morning. Looking back we laugh at my surprised reaction as I quizzically stared into the tank wondering where Olivia was, and how she could possibly hide when there was nothing big enough to hide behind. We chuckled at how my girlfriend gently revealed the true reality of the situation, as opposed to my sleepy rendition. How comical it was as I kneeled down gazing in the tank, only to have a foot long fish lying just inches away from me. The shocking revelation of my obvious compassion for that fish surprised me. It seems one never knows what the day may bring when you least expect it, or what the power of prayer can bring however insignificant it may seem at the time. Yes, Olivia is still with us!

Pets | Short Stories

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