How I Accidentally Murdered My Goldfish
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How I Accidentally Murdered My Goldfish

We all remember our first experience with death.

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How I Accidentally Murdered My Goldfish
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I, like all young, irresponsible children, had a goldfish growing up. Her name was Lilly, which, ironically, is what I want to name my daughter. Well, this is the story of how I (accidentally) killed her.

Lilly was a beautiful little fish. And she wasn’t just a fish. She was my friend.

We adopted her from a caring, loving facility specializing in breeding and raising only the best of the goldfish population: PetSmart. She was in a tank with about 150 other goldfish but when I saw her and she saw me, we knew it was meant to be. No, I’m kidding, I just told the worker to pick one and put it in a bag for me. For all I know, Lilly could have been a male. I’m really not sure how to tell what gender a fish is. But anyways, I assumed that she was a female and gave her the name I’ve always wanted to name my first child, because, as far as my young, naïve, inexperienced mind could tell, Lilly was my child.

She cost us 33 cents, but after all the crap we had to buy, it was a hefty investment. Probably close to 15 dollars. I mean, adding a family member is neither cheap nor easy. We had to endure home visits, court hearings, drug tests, and we had to gather three recommendation letters. Again, I’m just kidding, we literally got her from the store and took her home in a bag.

After arriving home, I got her tank set up and plopped her on in there. It was a beautiful tank, pink and shaped like a Japanese temple (she was a cultured fish) with a taped on background that allowed her to believe that she was swimming with other fish. I also bought her a little castle to put in her tank to allow her to believe that she was really a princess. I mean, to me, she was.

She was living a happy, healthy life and I really enjoyed her company, and I’d like to believe that she enjoyed my company as well. That all ended, however, the day I decided to invest in a water heater.

The reason I needed a water heater was simple. Winter was quickly approaching, and I couldn’t let my little princess get cold. I had tried to knit her some sweaters but they just weren’t holding up well in water, so the heater was my best bet.

It was nighttime when I installed the heater. I was thinking about how I had just taken a warm bath, was all bundled up in my pajamas, and how maybe Lilly wanted to be warm because the winter nights could be brutal.

The water heater came with instructions, of course. Naturally, I threw them out, because how stupid do you have to be to not be able to use a water heater? I mean really. So, I plugged it in, stuck it in the tank, and turned the little dial to turn it on.

Here’s where my problem was: the dial. I wasn’t sure which way was all-the-way hot and which was was all-the-way cold. So, I just picked a side, turned it up, and went to bed thinking I was the best mom in the world.

This, I would soon learn, was not a good decision.

The next morning, when I woke up, I went to feed my fish and saw that she was in the filter. You know that scene in Finding Nemo where Nemo is almost pulled into the filter and shredded into a million pieces? Yeah, that happened. Not shredded into a million pieces, but shredded enough to cause me to burst into tears, start yelling and fall onto the floor in a heaving, sobbing mess.

My parents came running and saw me crying on the floor and, in a hysterical state. My mother exclaimed, “Oh my God! Are you hurt? What’s wrong, Kate!? Talk to me!!!!”

My dad, concerned and always knowing the right words to say, asked “Why are you crying?”

(Looking back, I realize that they must have assumed I had broken my leg or my appendix had burst. Of course, it was much, much worse than either of those.)

In my heaving, miserable, tearful mess, I pointed at the tank. They looked in and saw the shredded mess than had been Lilly 12 hours ago. My dad did as dads do, and picked her (pieces) up and flushed her down the toilet.

At some point in my hysteric mess it occurred to me that she wouldn’t have just been pulled into the filter and shredded up. My fish was strong. My fish was tough. She wouldn’t have gone down without a fight.

That’s when I remembered the heater. The god damn heater. I touched the water and it was hot. Oh my god, I had burned my fish alive. Everyone knows that being burned alive is the most painful way to die. Had Lilly suffered? Had she called out for me to rescue her? I had let her down, not only as her mother, but as her friend.

So I was curled up in a ball, on the floor, in a heaving mess, and my parents were like… “Kate, what is going on? Why are you so upset about this fish…?”

I tearfully and inconsolably replied, “I killed her. I killed my child and friend. I will never forgive myself for committing such an awful crime. I put my fish through so much pain and suffering. I am no better than Hitler or Ted Bundy.”

They looked at each other and looked at me and then my father, again, always knowing what to say in difficult times, asked me, “Are you ready to leave for school?”

I wailfully told them “no, of course not, I am having a disastrous moment and I need time to recover.”

I think that initially they thought I was joking but then realized I wasn’t after about 30 minutes of uncontrollable crying and heaving sobs. They then told me that I could stay home from school to mourn, which was great because I just couldn’t go to school and pretend that everything was fine when it so clearly was not.

My mom called the school to inform them that I wouldn’t be making it that day because I was sick. I mean, clearly I was sick because I had just killed a fish. What kind of a monster does that??

I stayed home, sobbing and crying all day. How could I do such a thing? Lilly had TRUSTED me to keep her safe and raise her, and I had let her down. She had picked me to be the one to love her, the one to care for her, and it was all in vain. In the end, the one whom she had trusted most, the one who she loved and valued as a friend, had been the one to kill her. It just goes to show that you cannot trust anyone, not even yourself.

Looking back, I can see now why I was so upset about all of this. Everyone has their first moment when they experience death up close, and for me, this was it. I realized that death is inevitable, and unfortunately, this would be the moment that I was taught that cruel lesson, forcing me into a state of maturity, in a world where fish don’t live forever.

Anyways, this all happened in Ninth grade. That’s right, at 15 years old I accidentally killed my goldfish and had to stay home from school because I was so upset about it.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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