I thought at the time that it must have been like the razor companies giving away the expensive holders, to ensure better sales of only marginally less expensive blade cartridges; which was confirmed at the pet shop, but with a frown since I think I used the analogy of heroin samples, which is never appreciated among true capitalists.
Anyhow, for some reason, at a later birthday, my daughter really really wanted some fish, likely as displacement down from the puppy dog which she really wanted and knew was out of the question, broken and stressed out divided home that she continues to survive.
We've done pretty well over at least a decade, with one - I think it's only one - fish to survive the entire journey from city to country, and loss of childish interest. (this sort of thing makes one glad about the dog not gotten). The survivor is called, I think, a cave tetra. It's blindness must make it hardier somehow.
But one of the other tetras is showing familiar signs of quickening old age. You see it in the color and mostly in the grasping uncertainty of floating balance. It distresses more than saddens me, and long gone are the days when I did wonder how to break it to my daughter. I think that I myself do compulsively continue to maintain this small aquarium in penance for the laboratory mice, or was it hamsters, which I once did let die of neglect in their very similarly constructed - to the aquarium - hyperbaric chamber. Or maybe it was the beagle I never could take proper care of, and which got sold while I was away at summer camp, and still manage to feel was, the selling, my own darn fault. It was.
They are no company to me, these fish, but I do make a mental note to buy another, and oh yes also that glass scum sucker fish since the green stuff is building up again. Which seemed to have a shorter life, useful as it was, at the bottom of this particular food chain. I think they need company, and well perhaps I am glad to have them around for when I come home. It gives my transition some focus. Feed the fish, feed the cats, also for the daughters gone, but now long since banished out of doors , the cats, not the daughters, because they full took over the house in my perigrinatory absences, and filled it with puke and shit and hairballs in all the wrong places despite my most strenuous efforts. And feed the fire before I can take the time to feed my mind.
I suppose they do provide a kind of company. Unless it's just the reminder of my daily responsibilities toward something simple but living and apart from the daily grind. It could be a reminder of where I did once dream of being, scuba flights beneath the seas. Though now I am content full stop with flights of mind alone. I shall call my daughter anyhow. It's always nice to have an excuse. Must be content with breathing apparatus. There is emotion to rehearse across some silent ether.