It was time. Noah had begged and pleaded for a dog. I knew he wasn’t old enough to take care of one. And I just wasn’t up to the task. Trying to work, go to college in the evening and taking care of a 5 year old on my own was enough. Mama’s plate was completely full.
So I compromised. We were in the pet shop and I was thinking I could get him a lizard, or a gecko or something easy. And quiet.
We had to struggle through the, “But mama, there are kitties.” and take a left after, “Maaaaaama look, that rat is really cute though and he looks lonely.” Those big brown sad eyes looking up to me begging for me to understand how deep his affection was for every living creature. I sped the walk up to the lizard area. Repeating more times than I would like, “I know baby. I do, but let’s start small. Even small guys need love too!”
Then he saw them.
The guppies. There were what seemed like thousands of guppies in 5 aquariums. It was insane to see so many fish in one container. And I couldn’t figure out the reason they were all swimming about so frantically. Quick zig here, another zag there, then back super quickly. As if every one was in a hurry, but they had no idea what for. Maybe it was the way the light hit their tails and they sparkled, I don’t know but he stopped dead in his tracks.
“What are those?”
To be honest I couldn’t have told you what they were until I read the label and the very forgiving price tag that was written underneath.
“They are Guppies!” I emphasized the GUP-PIES!!!! because it sounded like puppies. I’m not proud.
We already had a 10 gallon tank that Eric said he was going to try and start a real salt water aquarium one day. Well, we’ve been divorced 3 years and it is still in my garage, so Score!
I asked an employee to come tell me a bit about the guppies. Let me know if they were easy to care for. She proceeded to give me the run down. They were essentially beginner fish. We were beginner pet owners and this sounded right up our alley. We purchased 8 guppies and an array of aquarium accouterments. In total, we walked out having spent less than $75.00. It was over my budget but watching my Noah Bug pick out each fish exclaiming, “That one, ooooh no wait, that one. No, he moved. The Silver one. That one!” His finger darting trying to track the exact fish he wanted. The glee he was exhibiting was worth doubling my pet budget.
We arrived at home thirty minutes after we left the pet store. I attempted to run into the grocery store to grab bread but my child screamed, “If we leave them in the car they will DIE!!!!!!!” Ok buddy. But it’s canned soup for dinner, no grilled cheese. He didn’t even seem to hear me. Once inside I rushed to finish cleaning out the aquarium for a second time, I had already thoroughly cleaned it a week ago, but a quick check for dust, etc wouldn’t take long. And the water needed to be the right temperature so I got to work immediately. And also at the urging of one very excited little boy. “Maaaaaaaam they’re going to die if they stay in these bags. Hurrrry.”
After one solid hour and testing the water twice, we introduced each one in. One at a time giving them a moment, making sure they were ok with the water temperature. And then it began.
He sat in front of that tank for 3 hours. I fed him his chicken and stars as he sat crossed legged in front of the glass amazed and still throwing out names for each one. Chuck! That one is Buzz! That red one is Bolt! The pink one is Dora! I did notice he traced his finger lightly across the glass, maybe seeing if they would follow. I know he wanted a dog, but I would hate to have to tell him that fish don’t, “come” when called. Then he used what sliver of a fingernail he had and tapped on the glass in frustration when they weren’t paying attention
Tap, BANG, Tap, BANG, Tap, Tap
“Noah, stop that immediately!” I raised my voice and approached him. I asked him, why would you do that to your fish?” We were warned by the person at the pet shop never to tap the glass. She said they have to say it every time. Beginner fish advice 101 especially for the little ones. He said, They weren’t watching me so I tapped so they could see me. I sighed. I got down to his level. I told him, “I understand what you mean. But, remember when we went to the July 4th parade last year and the fire engines went off right by you and you covered your ears? You were very upset by the loud noise and wanted to go home.”
He said, “But that is different, it was just a tap. I explained it was just as loud for the fish with his tap as it was the fire engine was for him. He looked remorseful that he had done it and I reassured him that it was ok. They are fine. Just don’t do that to them again.
After that it was finally time for Noah to head to bed. It had been a long day and I still had two papers due by Sunday night.
I could see he was on his stool brushing his teeth like a big boy as I approached the bathroom from the hall. Half way down the hall it happened.
It started as a rumble as if a train was going by somewhere in the distance. Then it picked up forcefulness. It was an earthquake. I ran as fast as I could to Noah, snatched him up like a football covering his head and headed into my closet.
Part II will come within a week or so.
If you are wondering why the hell I’m waxing poetic about guppies this is just the first part to a short story I am writing. It is a science fiction type piece. Don’t let the beginning fool you.
Thanks for reading. 🙂
Woman on Pause
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