Grief For a Lost One
Adam Katz

         When I was about twelve, I had this great fish named Norman. Norman was an "upside-down fish," called so because they swim upside-down. I was all excited because I had this really cool new fish and he was different and that was great.
         When I cut his bag open, I watched him explore my tank and its other occupants. Before I could count to one, Norman had found a certain ceramic building with a spot inside its roof that was out of my vision. He stayed there for the whole day.
         It was only because I turned on my light in the middle of the night that I actually saw him active one day the next week. He was swimming, right-side-up along the tank floor like the other catfish, searching for food since I had forgotten to feed them that day. Upon seeing me, he darted back to his Eden in the attic of my clay house.
         One day, much later, I found Norman swimming along the surface of the water, as if it was the tank floor, jumping and darting every which way. My brother and I watched him go around and around until he stopped and dropped out of sight behind some plastic plants.
         He died that day, and I can only assume that he was sick. Since he was a special fish, he was treated to a burial instead of the typical flushing of the toilet. I buried him to the side of my house in a specific spot by an old wood pile and said my last goodbye. Or so I thought.
         A few years later, I was doing a biology report on catfish and I thought about Norman for the first time since the week of his burial. That was my mistake. Late that night, after I had fallen asleep, this huge man with Norman's head opened my door. He told me, "Blubbbb-bbbllbbb-bhhbbbl." Strangely, I knew that this actually meant "Blubbbb-bbbllbbb-bhhbbbl."
         As I groped around for my flashlight, I realized that he had come from my closet door. That's where I keep all of my fish supplies. I flashed my light at the man with Norman's head and he asked me if I had a license for that. It was then that I realized that my grief for Norman had made me confuse a stupid hand-held fishing game television advertisement for reality.
         After all, Norman's remnants are still by the wood pile at the side of my house . . . or are they?

© 1999 Khopesh, L+d.
Khopesh (
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