A couple of weeks ago, we went to the state fair and my daughter won a goldfish. Well, she actually won two, but one, unfortunately, didn’t make it through the night, so the hopes for the second one were less than optimistic. Still, we found him a bowl, popped a plastic tree in it, and started to feed him. With his future uncertain, we kept him on our kitchen counter, not wanting to make space in another room, or even give him a name for that matter. Quite awful when you think of it, but his first few days we could barely even tell if he was alive or not – sometimes, he slowly floated around the bottom, and other times he would struggle up to the top, peek through the surface, take a gulp of air, then take an unenthusiastic swim as he spiraled slowly around the bowl. As the week went on, I moved him to the side of my tea kettle – he was taking up too much counter space, but we wanted to keep an eye on him, and it was an easy reminder to feed him (again, laziness on our behalf had not prompted us to make much effort to make him a permanent fixture in our home). We fed him as we passed by, did the dishes or made a cup of tea, and were encouraged by the fact that he seemed to be moving more (and, quite frankly, had escaped the dreaded toilet flush of so many before him). Then, one day, as I made my morning cup of tea, I noticed him swimming frantically around the bowl, darting back and forth. I fed him a flew flakes, he ate them, calmed down, and I went into the sunroom to drink my tea. Sadly, as I continued about my day, I assumed he was on his last fish legs, and made plans to pick some hydrangea blooms to put in the bowl when he was done. Later on, as I puttered around the kitchen (dreaming of hydrangeas and what I would do with my extra counter space) the fish-frenzy happened again, and I wondered if it was my imagination, or if he had actually seen me and was hoping to be fed again. In a very childish move, I hid behind the corner and watched in fascination as he quickly slowed down and went back to his repetitive, leisurely exploration of his glass home. I waited a few moments, then went to the counter to make my lunch. The frantic swimming resumed, and I realized that not only was he feeling better, but he had turned into a greedy little goldfish, responding to people and expecting food whenever he saw one of us nearby. Days turned into weeks, and we became used to having an orange fish living on the counter. It really was an inconvenience at first (especially with such a tiny kitchen) but I moved the tea kettle and toaster over, and decided that he had gradually become a very small, but welcome (and amusing) part of our home…. (p.s. “Cat” the goldfish is still alive and well, living next to the tea kettle on our kitchen counter…).
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