They say in sports that “almost” doesn’t count. Don’t waste the fans’ time with lame excuses such as in “I almost got that ball into the hoop.” “We almost won that game.” “I almost stopped that puck.”
Having said that, I admit that I am an “almost” murderer.
Readers who have read my “Little Blue Fish” story know that Sparky is my Siamese Fighting Fish. He is now blind, living in the equivalent of a one room condo, underwater as many post-storm homes are.
He can no longer appreciate the landscape of his tank. The pretend palm tree goes without his appreciative glances, the pretend castle remains uninhabited by Sparky’s imaginary friends. The blue pebbles on the bottom no longer delight him.
Feeding time for Sparky is frustrating. I drop one piece of pink flake fish food at his nose. He seems to look right at it, but it slowly drifts away, down to the bottom of the tank. Try another piece. One single flake just to the left of him. He remains in one place, unmoving and unaware of the succulent snack gliding past him. Now two flakes sit at the bottom of the tank. Sometimes he snaps at food, but misses the piece. Down it floats.
Every piece of food on the bottom of the tank causes pollution in the water. That pollution translates into many more time consuming water changes. The water must be spilled out of the tank, tank walls scrubbed, plants and decorative structures cleaned. Then with fresh water with a few drops of “R.O. Right”, a chemical that puts minerals back into the water, the fish and fancy furnishings go back in.
My husband, fish fancier and hobbyist since boyhood, informs me that “Serious collectors euthanize fish requiring so much extra care.”
“Well, I could never do that,” I assure him.
“If you want me to do it just tell me.”
The time costing routine continues for a while, until one day I lose my patience and say, as I leave the house, “O.K.; do it. Just don’t do it while I’m home.”
He understands what I mean when I say “do it.”
Late that afternoon I return to an empty house which seems quieter than usual. Don’t be
ridiculous. A Siamese fish doesn’t make any noise; why should the house seem quieter?
Yet the feeling remains. “Oh, he did it. Sparky is gone.” I sidle up to the tank and see nothing but a plastic palm tree and a little castle.
I never wanted this creature but I feel surprisingly sad.
My fish-experienced husband probably matter-of-factly swished a small aquarium net into the tank and swooped Sparky out. I imagine a splash of water and hear the sound of a toilet flushing.
Sparky is forced through the sewer line and comes out right into a treatment plant.
“Oh no.” What a cruel end for a little creature whose only fault was losing his eyesite.
And it’s my fault. I wished this fate for him. What kind of human being am I?
As I stood near the tank a small blue fish waved its fins and swam up to the top.
Sparky is alright! Nobody swooped him out of the tank. Nobody threw him into the toilet bowl. Nobody sentenced him to ending his life in a treatment plant!
There must be a way to feed him. I will figure it out. It just will take a little more time. But never will I cause such a sad ending to the life of my blue Siamese Fighting Fish!