Tuesday, July 26, 2011

For Julian: A Tribute

Flame in a bottle
A brightly soaring spirit
The red betta swims

Going on four years ago, friends at work bought me a red betta fish for my birthday. He was a feisty little guy, all fins and attitude. I named him Seamus. For about three weeks, he lived on my desk, flaring at all passersby and rocketing through his little tank.

And then, he died. I was heart broken.

But I missed him, missed having something to watch during thinking moments at work. And strangely, I missed the sense of companionship--an odd thing to say about a fish, but just knowing he was there was nice.

A few months later, I bought another little red betta. I debated giving him the same name, but a co-worker joked that I should give him a gentler name to make him tougher: "Boy Named Sue" syndrome. After discussion, we decided on "Julian," both because it sounded a little less confrontational and because (I admit it, I are a geek) I had quite a crush on Julian Bashir in Star Trek:Deep Space 9 back in the day.

I got him all new food. I carted water from home every few weeks, in case there was something wrong with the water in my work building. I bought some fancy aquarium water treatment stuff instead of the inexpensive drops. And he thrived. For three and a half years, he was my work buddy. He hovered when I looked at him, as if listening. He danced around at feeding times until he caught my attention. He flared at everyone who stopped by my desk, whipping his tail and darting forward and back, looking for all the world like an angry little yappy dog. He spent hours carefully constructing bubble nests. He swam, with that gorgeous tail casting sparks behind him.

This weekend, he passed away. He'd been slowing down these past few months, spending most of his time resting on the bottom of the tank, so I knew it was coming. And as betta lifespans go, his wasn't bad, I don't think. He would have been fairly mature when I bought him, so he must have been over four years old, at a guess. It's not a tragedy, his death. He had a good betta life. But I already miss him. One of these days, I'll find another.

Maybe I'll name him Sue.


Elizabeth H. said...

OK, so I was joking...but now I actually *do* have to think of a name. I got to work this morning to find my co-workers had bought me a new betta--a tiny little purple-blue-red guy. Very pretty. It's so soon, I'm a little taken aback...but he's fun and spunky and awful pretty.

His name will *not* be Sue. He'll just have to be tough all on his own.

Anonymous said...

That is a lovely image in the poetry. I've had tropical fish and saltwater fish over the years but never bettas. Your tribute makes me want to know more.

BTW, my wife, Susan, thinks your name for the next one is good.

Jeff The Bear

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My daughter asked me to buy her a goldfish for a pet and every morning when she wakes up she feeds the fish before taking her breakfast. She felt sad when it died and I promised to buy her another goldfish to cheer her up but she said "no, it's fine, mommy" I just miss him.