I can't believe I am in an outdoor flea market, it's so humiliating. My keepers are moving to the Bahamas and leaving me to some whiney kid most likely. It's sunny out and I am a loner. I requested a tank cleaner, but I shut my trap when I overheard my "family" talking after dinner and the choices they were going over were seriously evil. Luckily, the insanely bad violinist "Maestro" Mary who was perhaps twelve overheard her parents and older brother, Jerky Joe arguing over what to do with me. "Dad just flush him, sell the tank and get it over with, what's the big deal?" Maestro Mary ran in and hit him in the back of the head. He swung at her yelling, “Get away from me you little freak!”
"That's cruel Joey; is that how I raised you to think?" Beautiful Bess, "Mom", to the rest was my saviour. I know she fancied me, but my chances were slim that she’d choose me over the rest of the ingrates in the bunch. She regularly cleaned my tank and removed my two buddies who became pale floaters from some icky parasites; I thought I was lucky then but now, I admit being alone in this glass cage big enough for a lake trout is a bit boring. Bess always talked to me when her husband the "gifted" Chef was working, and the monstrous young humans were at school. I do know I have a few things I could tell Bess that would get Jerky Joe into some trouble, however, knowing that he wants to flush me down their john I will not say anything. He has skipped school when Bess was volunteering at the animal rescue centre. She rescued every animal she could and brought it home. I did not particularly care for the two mean Tabby’s who circled my tank with beady green eyes and luckily, she found them suitable keepers. I knew, despite my melancholy I could count on her to find me a safe new family. She was so good to me; she even said, "Sweet Freddy Fin McFarlan, I hope I can find you a wonderful home."
She confided in me often and revealed that she didn't want to move to the Bahamas and being me, I replied, "then don't". She rattled on about the Chef being the major bread winner and something about it would be a great cultural experience for Maestro Mary and Jerky Joe. She didn't hear me when I said, " That's true, there’s our solution! Send those beastly kids with the Chef to the Bahamas and you and I can just hang back here. We don't need bread. I never ever have asked you for bread." Bess sighed and rested as her head on her folded hands silently.
A couple of days passed painfully slow as I had no choice but to listen to Maestro Mary practice for her big recital. I was grateful she wanted to quit. The squeaking racket over and over when she played, I believe to this very day caused me a tad bit of post traumatic stress disorder. She would also have her friends over after school and they all would tap on my glass walls which led to vibrations that were like mini earthquakes causing me to feel nauseous. I mean, who does that?
The Chef was working one Friday night and Bess poured a big crystal glass of her favourite red juice and plopped down on her favourite chair and turned on the television. No kids tonight, just me and Bess. Both brats were sleeping over at one of their friend’s houses and I was so calm. Bess came close to the aquarium glass cage I was stuck in and whispered, “Sweet Freddy, I heard there is a country outdoor market tomorrow and I think we should take you and all of your things there to see if anyone would like to care for you, what do you think little guy?” Sell me? What things? I have two weird rocks and a can of dried seaweed. It felt good in one way that Bess saw me as valuable, but it also felt like I would be enslaved in this aquarium for the rest of my days alone. I truly didn’t want to be left behind.
I was young when she brought me home and don’t remember anything so traveling in the backseat of an old red Volkswagen with Maestro Mary buckled in and staring at me with concern was quite frightening. Sloshing around from side to side while Bess drove to the designated spot and sense of doom came over; what would happen at the actual flea market? What about my Bess? No one hears when a fish screams. My former roomies were cynical and made sure that my attempts to get Bess over to the tank for a snack were pointless. She was predictable though; each morning she came up first yawning and made her thick black syrup in its round glass cage and fed us. Then she would pull out boxes of kid feed and pack up their lunches as they gulped down bowls and complained about who got more juice than the other, never thanking Bess they would grab the lunch bags and run out to their bus for school. The chef slept very much; he had run a fine restaurant in the city and came home when everyone was asleep. Bess would clean my confined space, clean hers and then do something kind, like bake cookies for after school treats or sew patches on ripped clothing. I felt bad for Bess, her family never saw her looking tired or lonely and they certainly did not know about our unique bond.
Bess parked and she and Mary carefully lifted me out of the car into the bright sun light and placed me on a wooden table with my food, a net to clean my water, and put a tag that read, “Freddy Fin McFarlan needs a home.” Lots of people looked at me; I felt so violated. Displayed without thought given regarding my emotions, losing my Bess and even the obnoxious, crazy kids. Mary was, for the first time seemingly protective. She told people not to touch the aquarium as I was stressed from the car ride. Way to go Maestro I thought. Hours passed and no one wanted me, not even for free. Bess and Mary carried me back to the car and I sloshed about without complaint all the way home.
The chef called from work and asked Bess how it went, and I heard her say, “No one wanted him, so he is still here.” Mary went off to sleep and Bess poured her red juice in her favourite crystal bowl and sat staring at me. She gave me a snack then went somewhere in the house where I couldn’t see her.
Jerky Joe came in late and looked at me, squinting his eyes and said, “Ah, still here mate.” He also gave me a little food and went to bed.
Late, late Chef came home and poured himself some of the red juice Bess drank and he sat staring at me. He had no expression whatsoever.
The next morning the phone rang, and Bess answered cheerfully. “Really, oh, I never knew that was possible, this solves so much worry. I can’t wait to tell everyone.” This breakfast the entire family was together. “Guess what, the travel agency called and said Freddy can be transported after all! Freddy can go with us!” They all talked at once, the Chef saying it would cost them an arm and a leg which was quite brutal Freddy thought. Was he worth that much? Mary jumped up and down with glee and Jerky Joe said in a very big voice, “I told you Dad, flushing him is the best way. Who wants an old fish like Freddy?” I was old? I never knew that. I had outlived the floaters, so I guess I was getting up there in age.
Bess stood and said, “Enough, I will stay here with Freddy until we find a new home for him.” Chef put his arm around Bess, and I was quite jealous.” Aww, hon, if he means that much to you, let’s get him a ticket. We can’t leave without you.”
Over the course of the next week, movers came and went, boxes piled up and suitcases were packed. Freddy had never been on a airplane and began to show some anxiety. If riding in the Volkswagen was so tumultuous, how would this go? Bess began draining Freddy’s tank and filling a small, square shaped plastic container with part of his water and some room temperature fresh water; she scooped Freddy Fin McFarlan up with his mesh net and gently let him out in his small quarters. He could not believe the new arrangements wouldn’t even fit his rocks inside. The McFarlan’s all hopped in a taxi with Mary holding Freddy in her lap. They waved goodbye to neighbours and boarded their flight to Nassau. Mary held Freddy’s travel aquarium up so he could look at the blue sky and fluffy clouds; he screeched for her to give him to Bess. Sensing Mary needed a break, Bess took Freddy and moved across the aisle to sit with Chef. “You are one pricey goldfish Sir Freddy Fin!” Bess smiled at Chef in the same way she smiled at Freddy each morning, a warm, calm lovely smile.
Once in the Bahamas and the family began to settle in Freddy’s old tank was replaced with a much larger one and to his surprise he had a roommate, a younger, long eye lashed, shy yet brilliantly orange fish that was introduced to him as Lilly. Bess was careful that Lilly had no disease to spread to Freddy and had kept her seperate from him for a small quarantine of sorts. New rocks and water plants were added and finally he got the algae cleaner he had always wanted. He and Lilly would need one as within no time they had five little McFarlan’s and now he understood what made Chef change his mind, for if he had to move to be a bread winner, he would never leave Lilly behind.
About the Creator
Writing whether truth or fiction, feels as if I am stroking across a canvas, painting colorful words straight from my heart.
I am both a USA and Swedish citizen; from my old farmhouse in western Sweden I tap into my muse via nature.
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