My Entry: Fiorenzo's Memorial
Hello, Judges and fellow Contestants. My name is QuietlyThundering, and this is the only picture I have of a little doubletail halfmoon that I had rescued this March. His name was Fiorenzo, which means "Blossoming," because I had hoped that he would do just that; instead, he is now blossoming in a different sort of way, but that part shall come later.
It was the first day of spring. I was feeling unusually energetic because it was overcast, something that doesn't happen as often as I'd like here in sunny California, so I decided to relish in it by going for a bike ride to the nearest Petsmart. I only went in for substrate, but as is the usual story, I couldn't help but want to look at the bettas. I was surprised to find them in pretty good condition; this was either a new shipment, or they had hired someone responsible and caring. I looked on wishing each of these finned fellows good luck in finding good homes, when I saw this emaciated, skinny, EXPENSIVE little guy with a curvy spine. He was sort of a light creamy beige, with some extremely dull red spots near his dorsal and anal fins, and a tail the color of washed-out green. Startled, I looked at him wondering if he was even alive, and reluctantly picked up his cup. I was relieved to find out that he was when he pitifully swam to the top for air. "Good donkey riding Mary! You don't stand a chance, do you?", I whispered to him. He responded by swimming around. I'll tell you what, I felt awful. I mean, his price tag said "$14," but his face said, "Please?" I put him back and tried to forget him; after all, I'm no expert in fish diseases. The worst thing I have ever cured was ich; what could I do for that guy? I didn't want him to die on me either; it hurts too much to see them go.
I went about my shopping, but all the while, I thought about him. About how cold his little home must be; how much energy it must take to swim to the top, and how tired he must be when he let himself slowly sink to the bottom. And then it occurred to me that he wasn't culled. He was an expensive little fish, and besides that, if he had been half as sickly as a fry, he would have either been eaten by his siblings, culled by the breeder, or perhaps even, he as an egg, could have been eaten by his parents. In addition, he could have died on the way to the store, been dropped, or poisoned....and to have survived those odds, he must have been a tough little guy. I couldn't take it anymore. That's when I knew I couldn't leave him, as sorry and broke as he looked, so I gathered supplies for his new home, and picked him up. And then I will readily admit that I am cheap, so I quickly sought out an employee that I could barter with.
I had this speech worked up in my mind, so when I finally asked someone, his response to mine caught me by surprise.
"Excuse me, sir?" I said, as I flagged the nearest store associate.
"Yes? How may I help you?" He was probably in his late 20's, with short dark hair, and of stocky build.
I quietly prepared myself, and said, "I hate to be a bother, but I am interested in this fish. However, I wish to ask for a discount, because, as you can see, he's very sick, and incredibly skinny."
He looked at the fish, asked for the cup, and pulled a marker out of his pocket. "I'll adopt him out to you." Then, he slashed out the barcode on the lid.
"Huh?" He handed back the fish and said, "He's yours. For free. Please make him better." Then he smiled and and we walked to the cash register. He explained to the cashier that he adopted the fish out, and walked away. I haven't seen him again, but I hope I will someday, so that I can thank him.
After I put my purchases in my bike basket, I realized that I had a problem-how am I going to safely transport this frail, sick fish home on a BIKE?! The answer? Once I got going, I didn't stop, and navigated with one hand on the handlebars, and the other trying my best to delicately hold my precious cargo. It worked, until I really had to stop at a light near my home, so I just walked the rest of the way. Once I got home, I set up his tank quickly, talked to him a bit, and tried my best to think of a name for him. I left him to go to class, but when I got home that night, I found the perfect name: Fiorenzo, and for the reasons I stated above. I said hi to him, and he perked up and started to weakly swim around in his cup. His color, I noticed, was slightly more vivid than that morning, so I took it as a good sign. I then posted on this forum about what I could do for him, and headed to bed, saying goodnight to my newest fish buddy.
The next morning, I introduced him to his new home. He seemed more energetic, and unclamped his fins,but refused to eat. Due to his skinny state, I felt that this could not go ignored, and purchased special food for him; he rejected it, but at this point, I felt that when he wanted to eat, he would. I continued talking to him, about how beautiful and handsome he would become, and that all the girls would be begging for his attention. I sang to him some songs that I hoped would inspire him, played water themed classical pieces, and regretfully told him that I had to leave for the night, but that I'd be back. "My great-grandfather needs me right now too, Little Fiore. I promise to come back to you tomorrow."
Then, friday came, and I was home; no one else was back yet, I noticed, but I headed for my room to deposit my things, and to say heloo to everyone. When I reached Fiorenzo's temporary tank, I looked anxiously for him, and was greeted by a sad sight- him, lying there. I quickly picked up his little tank, and put his tiny body in the cup I brought him home in. I went to the side yard, picked up a little shovel, and walked out to the front. My grandmother and I had recently planted three different types of flowers out there, and I started to sift the dirt in front of the middle one. The ones flanking it were amazingly beautiful; each flower had its own color scheme, but they all looked like frothy party dresses. Surely these should suffice, but it was the one in the middle I ended up choosing. It was a white, bell like flower with a mane of maroon petals in the back; his colors looked like those on this plant. When I made a deep enough hole, I put little Fiorenzo in it, and said, "I know I couldn't give you the long and comfy life you deserved. I'm so sorry, little one. Please let these flowers flourish and blossom in your stead." As I buried him, I cried. I didn't know him for very long, but I grew so attached to him that I was convinced that he would live; his death had shocked me in a way I didn't think it would. I finished up and watered the flowers, and with a heavy heart, followed up to my thread by reporting his passing. This community was so supportive to me, and so kind that they comforted me, even though they have never met me, nor know my birth name. I have never been more grateful to this forum as much as I had been then.
A month has passed since Fiorenzo's passing. With it, I have learned the harshest of lessons one must learn when caring for another creature-that death is always close to us. However, from Little Fiore, I have also learned that life is precious and sweet while it lasts. I take these things to heart.
The two flowers we planted on either side of the middle one have died, though they were gorgeous and healthy, and most indefinitely prettier than the middle one; we cared for all three equally, and yet, the middle is the sole survivor, and it has greatly flourished. I take extra good care of it, and, as foolish as it may seem, thank Fiorenzo for listening to me. It has blossomed again, and I see that as a sign of all good things to come.