by Aaron Hwang
Today, Parson’s goldfish died. I know I’ve never mentioned the goldfish much before, but… now she’s dead. Her name was Abigail.
I don’t really get how kids can fall so in love with goldfish. They’re not pets. Not really. They’re furniture. Decoration. Goldfish don’t play with you like dogs, or even ignore you like cats. They just float around and... and I don’t know.
I never told Parson that of course. Because he really does love that fish, or did, I guess I should say. Sometimes I’d walk by his room and hear him talking to her, telling her about his day, and asking her how hers was, you know. Whatever it is a fish would do with its day. I know you wouldn’t approve, but I listened outside his door once, and he talked, just a one-sided conversation, just monologuing, for fifteen minutes. I don’t know if he’s ever talked to me for fifteen minutes. I figure there’s no harm in it, in monologuing, I mean. He’s only five. It’s like an imaginary friend. He’s young enough to have an imaginary friend, right?
Only now she’ll be extra imaginary I guess, because, you know, she died today. I mean, she died in the night probably, I don’t know. See, I don’t know how long it was before he called me in to look at her. You know how Parson is. Maybe he could have just been sitting there talking to her for who knows how long, before he recognized something was… something was… you know.
So, he asked me what was wrong with her, and I put my hand in the water and she didn’t move, and I touched her and she didn’t move. She was also, you know, mostly upside down, which is usually not such a good sign. So, I told Parson she was dead, and he said, “I know.” But then he asked, “But why isn’t she swimming? Why is she upside down?”
I didn’t know what to say, except that that’s what dead is. He then asked, “But she’ll still be my pet, right?” Then, I- I just- I didn’t know what to say. I should have made something up, like, “She’s been stuck in a bowl all her life, but now we’ll put her in the toilet, or the ground, or something, and then she can be free. She’ll be everywhere at once, and you’ll be able to take her wherever you want, on the playground, or to school, and you’ll never even have to worry about carrying her bowl.” But I didn’t say that. I didn’t want to say something that I made up. What would it mean if I just made something like that up? What if he believed me?
So instead I just said, “We’ll get you a new fish.” Then he started to cry.
I just… I just wanted to let you know that I messed up today. You would have done this right, but I’m not you. This is hard for me. I don’t know how you made it look easy. It’s so hard. It’s not just sprinkling flakes in a bowl and dribbling iodine every now and then and I couldn’t even do that.
And I can’t… I just wish…
I should go now. Parson’s class is showing off their art projects today and I’ve already missed so many of his- I shouldn’t…
I’ll visit again soon, I promise.
I love you.
Edited by Ariel Barreras