litl3

My pet goldfish “fluffy” was very special to me. He was much much more than just some pretty fins and some scales.

In a landlocked wheat field of a world where almost every other animal was routinely herded with a horse, a tractor, or whatever humans were not combining or picking rocks . . . he was refreshingly different.

For one thing, he blew bubbles.

And he was a great listener.

He was always listening, and never ever butting in and interrupting me or telling me that he had to go and wash his hair now. I loved him. I loved him more than I loved the cows, the horses, the sheep, my grandparents and my brother.

OK I know it is not that big of a deal to love him more than my brother because I loved planter’s warts more than my brother but when you write and want to convey heartfelt emotion as a child you are supposed to talk about your siblings as if you love them a lot. Sometimes I like to close my eyes and imagine that I am normal and have those feelings. This was one of those times.

The moment has passed.

If I had to write that sentence now, I would not be adding my brother to that list at all. I hope that does not take away from this whole story or that you are second guessing everything I have ever written now.

I never told anyone I had Fluffy. I kept him in a bowl under my bed. I found him on the side of a road next to a box of abandoned kittens. I think someone was spring cleaning.

Fluffy died. I couldn’t tell anyone I was so wracked with grief. I buried him in a wheat field. For years I would jump on one of the horses and ride out to his gravesite and sit there for hours and talk and talk and you know what . . . I learned a really valuable lesson.

The line between life and death is pretty thin, maybe even non-existant.

Fluffy still listened and never ever interrupted. Ever.

Once I thought he had because I thought I heard him calling “Aria, Aaaaaarrrriaaaaaa . . . ” but then I listened a little longer and I heard, “I know what you did and I am telling Grandpa,” and I realized my brother had followed me.

He is buried right next to Fluffy.

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