Goldfish – A Summer Memory

Here’s another out-take from my book. I entered this for the CBC’s winter Stranger Than Fiction Contest. It didn’t win…

For most kids, the annual visit of the Fun Fair to our local park was the summer’s high point – better even then the day school broke up for summer.

I looked upon the gaudy floats and stalls with other eyes. I saw prisoners – hundreds of them – trapped in little plastic bags, each filled with a few cups of water and hung on hooks around the stalls.

The others spent their pocket money on the rockets and the dodgem cars. I saved for weeks to free the Goldfish. I was eight years old, and animal-obsessed. I was going to be a vet when I grew up, and spent hours every day poring through my animal encyclopaedia, learning about exotic species I’d never seen. Goldfish were prosaic, but they deserved my help.

An average haul for an evening at the ‘roll a penny’ stall, or throwing hoops was one or two fish, but one day I strutted home with five. By the end of the week I had a baker’s dozen, swimming around in the bottom of our bath until we could get to the pet shop to buy an aquarium.

My kid brother – an elfin faced, saucer-eyed tot of three – loved the Goldfish too; loved them, perhaps, a little too much.

One day I arrived home from school to find carnage. He was in the bathroom crying. Dead Goldfish littered the floor. He explained through the tears that he’d been trying to cuddle them.


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