|I assure you, our guy did not look this good|
I've tweeted about our scraggly bedraggled blue betta fish for over two hundred years now.
Made jokes about building him a tiny little fish wheelchair. Poking fun at the way he'd lay half on his side, half upright, he'd appear asleep or dead, both looking the same.
I'd harass him at dinner and bring him over in his fish bowl over to watch me filet whitefish.
I was so wrong -- but I only did it because I knew he'd last forever.
Why? Because three or four years ago while downstairs one day, probably again fileting whitefish, I heard my three boys upstairs shouting for me. "Mom! MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!"
Slapping the boning knife down on the plastic cutting board, I leaped the stairs two at a time. I ran into the boys' bathroom where GoldFish Massacre III was now playing, in technicolor. Seems the separating mesh screen that kept our two pet betta fish apart had fallen to the side.The reason for the screen is the aggressive nature of the betta fish breed. My children stood, wild eyed, fingers in their mouths, as red betta fish was now pulling off scales one by one from blue betta fish. The fin brothers were going at it.
Have you ever seen betta fight? I'll tell you this, they're known as Siamese Fighting Fish for a reason.
It's nasty, dude. We had to painfully watch them circle one another while they took sneaky nips at each other and yanked each others' fins off. They moved, darting so fast, I just couldn't get them off of each other fast enough.
Amid my children's horrified screams, I hurried to remove at least one of them from the bowl, but with all the float like a butterfly sting like a bee Muhammad Ali stabbing and jabbing going on, it felt like forever trying to pull them to safety. The brawl was only seconds, but it was enough for our little blue guy to feel the brunt of it. From what was left of BlueFish, clearly, RedFish was winning. I frantically fished them both out (ha!) and kept them permanently separated after that. All I could think was how here we had moved to the suburbs, and my kids somehow end up with ringside seats to a Mexican cockfight.
While Mr. BlueFish did not emerge victorious, he did emerge with his life, albeit one fin shorter. Barely surviving his war torn state, we were sure we'd be playing taps for him before the sun came up to greet the day.
Well, if 7 a.m. the next morning didn't have us sounding like Gomer Pyle because, Sergeant Carter? Surprise. Surprise. Surprise. BlueFish was Christmas Miracle healed! And it was RedFish that had put his weary head down, never to Siamese fight again.
BlueFish had lived.
That was three years ago. Mr. BlueFish kept going, and we kept feeding him; me occasionally changing his water (though admittedly, I could've been more conscientious). Every day he'd call up his Siamese warrior genetic coding and play his game of "Ha! Try and catch me won't you, Grim Reaper!" We'd walk past and bend over his little bowl, whispering little fishy words of encouragement like "hang in there." I kept him on his toes by taunting him with translucent whitefish filets waved before him. There'd be weekly family updates on BlueFish.
That fish is the longest fish we've ever had alive, Mom.
I know. I don't know how he keeps going. Every time I look at him, I think he's dead.
Or depressed. Depressed or dead. That can look the same. (*thanks worldly wise 10 year old.)
Our family kept watch as BlueFish fought the good fight, heroically working his one remaining fin, it serving him like a broken oar to swim circles in his little environs. He became my cooking buddy, keeping me company in the kitchen as he sat in his bowl right next to the sink.
All plodded along well, until late Sunday night. I went to sprinkle in his black poppy seed-like shrimp krill just as I had done every evening for the past 877 nights and gasp! ... no need.
At the bottom of his round home, amid the blue and black speckled gravel, lay a lifeless glinting sliver of flesh. I gently shook the bowl, though I had a sinking feeling there'd be no movement other than his limp body in the resultant waves. Nothing, not even a pathetic attempt at a one-finned last wave good-bye to us. BlueFish had gone to a better place, one with cleaner water, where those without two working fins can swim. In a straight line.
We miss you, BlueFish. Now who am I going to wave this whitefish filet in front of?
**We miss you, little guy -- you were a scrapper. And will live on forever in what is now our family's rally call when times get tough, "What are you?! BlueFish or RedFish?!"
* * *photo credit: Cherrie 美桜 via photopin cc