This is probably late for Dia de los Muertos (wasn’t it November 2?), but I was thinking of my first pet, now very dead. He was a red Siamese fighting fish named Imhotep. He had this tiny, ugly face, which made him cute, somehow. And when he was mad, he’d puff out his face and look even more hideous. What really put him over the edge were pencils and pens. When he saw one, he’d puff up and start hitting the glass with his head, making a little “tink, tink” sound. Was he jealous that he had no thumbs for holding pencils himself?
He was a silly fish and hard to catch when I needed to put him in the pitcher of water while his bowl was cleaned. One day when changing his water, I was pouring him back into his bowl, and in mid-pour, he jumped out and landed on the ground. Poor thing. I put my hand next to him, gave him a poke, and he jumped right into my hand, and I returned him to his home. There were other times, too, where seemingly for no reason, he’d splash about and almost jump out of the bowl. I don’t know where he thought he was going.
And this home from where he kept trying to make an escape was just an ordinary fish bowl with blue, purple, and maybe green rocks at the bottom. One day I decided to spiff it up and put in a little fake plant, but apparently, it was meant for big tanks. It was much too big for his, and he had trouble getting around. One time, I saw him approach it, back up, then start swimming quickly so he could get to the other side. I’d like to think that was smart for a fish, but who knows.
I also thought it was silly that he never liked his treats. I heard that that type of fish liked these tiny worm thing, so I gave him a few (they were dead, though), and he would either ignore them or maybe pick at them a little. He actually picked at his regular food a lot, too. I’d drop in those little brown balls of food, and he would put the whole thing in his mouth, crunch at it a bit, then spit it out hard enough that it would go at high speeds (for a fish) to the other side of the bowl. Then, he may grab it again and chomp some more.
And then one day, he got something on his scales. A white thing, near the tail. And he stopped eating as much. I figured out that it was probably ich, but the medicine at the store would not give very good directions, so I had trouble figuring out how much and for how long. I tried two different types, but they would turn the water a color, and one time, poor Imhotep squeaked when I put it in. I had never heard a fish make a sound before, and since I was afraid the medicine would do more harm than good, I took it out.
One day, I even set him free in a pond, thinking he could spend his final days free, and he did indeed seem happier in there, but I just couldn’t see him go and scooped him up again. I feel terrible because he may have been happier in that pond, but his renewed vigor gave me hope that we could still be together.
But, one morning I got up, and I just knew that was it. The poor thing indeed was dead, laying white, down at the bottom of the bowl. So I took him back to the pond and put him in there, watching his pale shape float slowly to the depths.
He was a good fish. I miss him.
The Duck Misses Imhotep