I launched myself toward the box I keep his food in, conveniently hidden because Sparky gets so excited at the sight of the blue Beta Pellet bottle that he'd probably wiggle himself to death from the thrill of it all if he saw it 24-7. Normally as soon as I head toward the box, he starts squirming in culinary ecstasy. Today, he just blinked and continued hovering, the Mysterious White Film drifting along with his movements. I dropped a pellet into the water. He looked up at it and resignedly swam to the surface to retrieve it, more like a sloth and less like his normal, piranha-like self at dinnertime.
It was official.
Sparky was on the fritz.
It was time for drastic measures.
I added water to his tank. I tried to feed him several times a day, taking up the Grammy Andersen worldview that food solves every possible malady. I dug through my supplies of fish paraphernalia and found the medicine my parents used when Sparky got an eye infection a few years ago and applied it to his water, STAT. It was Sparky vs. the Grim Reaper and by George, Sparky would win if I had anything to do with it!
For a few days, I turned the corner into my room, terrified I'd find a floating fish. Unfortunately, in my zeal for keeping my fish alive, there were a few times that I subjected poor ailing Sparky to a hearty shake of the tank to make sure he was just sleeping and not, in fact, dead. Alas, what would have resulted in Shaken Baby Syndrome had he been a young mammal only resulted in a few dirty looks at my insistent shaking with accompanying shouts of "SPARKY! WAKE UP! I WON'T LET YOU DIE YET!!!!"
As scary as it was, we really bonded through Sparky's sickness. Instead of casually ignoring him as I ran in and out of my room, grabbing a book or a sweater on my way to the next event, I stopped by Sparky's tank to make sure he was okay. He'd float up to the top, his fins waving as if to say "Thanks for checking on me, Cindy. I'm going to go back to sleep now, I don't feel very well" and settle back down amongst the rocks and his plant, looking a little more content than before. We were reunited in spirit, and it felt so good.
It's tacky. It's probably a bit pathetic. But the truth is that this fish, who once refused to enter the left side of his tank after Mom and I put a pumpkin with a smiley face next to it on the counter to add a bit of Halloween cheer, has wiggled his way into my heart. He would charm anyone with his fishy wiles, really. When he lived with my parents, he got excited when he heard my dad's voice because he knew that he'd get food soon. He used to watch my mom wash the dishes, intently swimming from side to side as she moved dishes from one sink, to the other, to the drying rack. I wake up in the morning and look toward the bottom of my bed to see him sleeping along with Mari and I, always one to be included. Even my friend Lindsay, who took care of him over the summer, loves him. I know I can't bring him on the plane with me to Juneau, but I'm not quite ready to say goodbye yet.
So imagine my wonderment when a few days after I noticed the Mysterious White Film...it disappeared as quickly as it had come! Sparky was spunky as ever! He wiggled and squiggled every time I glanced his way, especially when I headed toward the food box, jumping out of the water to get to the food like he did when he was younger. It's a medical miracle! Or at least a veterinary one...
Sparky has been saved!
Can I get a witness-ah?