"UUUMMMMM...What is THAT?" I asked with a tone of clear dismay. I was picking Nick up from school a couple of months ago.
"It's my project. I have to bring it home. My teacher said so." Nick replied, not daring to look at my shocked face.
THAT~was a plastic soda bottle, filled with brownish water, green "algae-ish" stuff floating on top, and rocks on the bottom.
"What's in there?"
"A fish. And two snails." He said matter-of-factly. He was holding onto it for dear life.
"OOOOH NOO. No Way. You are not going to bring that in the house."
"But Mama! I have to! What else am I gonna do with it?"
Flashbacks. Bird. Dennis.(A prior "temporary" pet. R.I.P)
"I am NOT taking care of it. I can see exactly what is going to happen," as I watched the murky mini-swamp splach up the sides of the makeshift "fishtank."
"Mama. We don't have to do anything. The fish(named "FISHY")eats the algae and the snails clean the water."
"Yeah. They're on the bottom, SEE?"
I swerved as he put the bottle close to my face.
"GET IT AWAY!" I screamed. "Nick! For crying out loud!"
Nick cackled in what I can only describe as a "sinister" laugh. He knew. Oh, he knew.
"What do you think the rugrats are gonna do when they find out whats in there?"
"I'll put it up high on the shelf." He had this all figured out.
Gross. I was going to have to go along with it. I could see this clearly. I could visualize the moment that thing got knocked off the shelf, the brown life-water soaking the carpet, leaving fishy smell in its wake for years. The fish, pathetically flopping around, the snails rolling into places that I would end up finding years later...the green slimy stuff, plastered all over the walls....
"You are NOT to touch this ~ EVER!" I said, knowing I sounded like a lunatic.
"It's a mosquito-fish." he told me.
"Even better," I thought. "Even better."
And so Nick brought his aquarium into his room and placed it high on the shelf, and, for the most part, it went un-noticed.
I did check on that thing every once in a while. I couldn't help it. I didn't say it, but I guess I grew a bit fond of it. I marveled at the fact that it WAS self sufficient, and wondered if I took the little black snails out every once and a while and set them about, would they clean my house?
It brought me back to a time when I "adopted" a fish from a co-worker. We named him Dennis. My friend Tina had him in her office for a while, and asked me one day if Nick would like to have him. "YES." Of course he would. She told me that he probably wouldn't live too long. Hhmmmm.
I decked that fishbowl out Sex-In-The-City style and put it on my kitchen counter. The fish was actually beautiful. Nick could not have cared less. So, it became my fish. And for the next two years, I fed that thing, and even cleaned the bowl. I would scoop him into a cup while I cleaned and arranged his "fish-pad." I talked to him about my problems, made kissy-fishy faces at him. Nuts.
We named him Dennis, at the time there was a Disney show with a very smart talking fish named Dennis. He was like a little swimming encyclopedia. Our Dennis couldn't talk of course, but I think he was very jealous if there was ever another male around. I was Ariel. He was my Flounder.
Dennis lived for more than two years, and on the day that I found him belly-up. I really did tear up as I flushed. I think I loved him.
Anyway, back to the present.
About last night:
It was a rainy day, as some of you know. Nick came home from his baseball game, and went right up to his room.
I was cleaning up in the kitchen and Nick came down and hugged me.
"Fishy is dead."
"Dead." He said, and bounded up to his room.
"Crap. He IS dead." I wondered if there was something more I could have done. He was just floating there.
Nick started to reach for it.
"NO!" I snapped. "I'LL take it."
"What are you going to do with it?"
"I'm going to toss it into the woods."
"Right now?" He asked.
"Yes. I don't want dead fish hanging around...And knowing there are snails in the house creeps me out."
So I gently lifted the bottle off the shelf and carefully went downstairs. I didn't want the kids to know what was doing, I didn't need an audience. I only trusted myself to do this deed. No more hands in the cookie jar.
I was barefoot as I stepped onto the back steps, not really thinking about the fact that is had been raining, and with rain comes...
"Oh JeEEEEEeeeeZZz..." I looked down and what looked like hundreds of brown, slithering goobies slimed around my bare feet. I turned to go back up the stairs, tripped, and dropped "Fishy" onto the backstairs.
The exact scenario that I had imagined played out to a tee, only the water splashed onto the screen door, the rocks and green stuff went flying, and God only knows where the fish and snails went.
They are currently missing.
"Nice going, Mama." Nick could not control his giggles.
"Quiet down. Go to bed."
Then the husband entered.
"UUUGHGHG. WHAT IS THAT SMELL?"
"What? It doesn't smell." Yes.It.Did.
I simply closed the screen and prayed for more rain to wash my mess away. I hopped in the shower and scrubbed away any remnants of Fishy.
I sprayed everything with Febreez and Lysol and thought I had done a pretty good job of masking the smell...
"Could you check this milk?" My husband asked, as my youngest came running into the kitchen.
"MAMA! The milk smells like fwow-up!"
"EEEEEWWWW! It DOES!"
Now the smell of milk-gone-bad was mixing with the dead fishy water puddle on the back steps.
"EVERYONE TO BED!"
I had all I could take.
Dennis, if you're up there in "Kevin," be on the look out for Fishy. He may have two snails in tow. I am certain you will have a fishy laugh at my expense.
Oh, the things we Mamas do.
Today is a new day. I am plugging my nose.
Thanks for reading.