Jude always ordered hot coffee when he was falling apart. He leaned back in his booth and pressed his hands into the porcelain, trying to drink in the heat through cold fingertips. He couldn't taste... [+]
That, or she couldn't make up her mind.
I love my daughter, but sometimes she can be a bit of a mystery to me.
Finally, she grabbed my hand, led me to a shelf and pointed to a small blue betta fish.
"That's him," she said.
I nodded and asked what she was going to name it.
"Dave," she said.
Oh, shit. I held her hand and said not to name it that. I remembered my fish dying just a month after I bought it.
Despite all my efforts, she called the fish Dave.
We kept the blue fish in the kitchen during the day. Allison had full conversations with it while she ate.
At night, she carried the fish into her bedroom and set it on the nightstand. She fell asleep talking to the fish.
Better a fish than an imaginary friend, I reasoned.
That fish was with us for a year and a half. Then one morning Allison came to my bedroom. She tugged on my arm and announced that Dave was dead. I was expecting her to be upset, but she was calm. Tranquil.
I panicked and ran to her bedroom. The bowl was empty.
"Where is he?"
"I flushed him."
How did she know to do that? How could she do it, I mean. Flush Dave? I was angry. "Dave told me that he was going to sleep, and that when I waked up he would need to pee. So I took him to the potty and I flushed. Like you tell me to."
"Allison, was he dead? Did you flush a live fish?"
I remembered the way the fish looked at me whenever I moved in the kitchen. He was comforting to me, just being there. Dave had deep blue eyes. He used to watch me, too.
"He said he loved you and will see you again soon."
That afternoon we went back to the pet shop for the same routine. This time she pointed to a small blue and white bird.
"There he is," she said. "That's him."