Sally’s Goldfish

One night Sally’s dad came home with one arm behind his back.  “Sally! come here a second.” Dad yelled from the doorway.  Within a few moments, Sally bounded around the corner, her blond curls and polka dot dress bouncing in time with one another.  “Daddy!” she squealed and hugged his legs.

“I have something for you,” Dad said.  “Any guesses?”  Sally thought for a moment and shook her curls. From behind his back came a small plastic bag filled with water and two goldfish. Sally responded with a squeal of joy even though she didn’t understand the work or the lesson she would learn.

Later that night the goldfish were safely swimming around a large glass bowl with multi-colored gravel and a small plastic palm tree.  Sally, her nose almost touching the glass bowl, watched the goldfish settle into their new surroundings. “What should we call them,” Dad asked. Without hesitation, Sally replied, “Billy and Louie.”  Dad and Mom exchanged glances and shrugged their shoulders. “Which one is which?” Mom asked.

“Billy is the one with the freckle on his nose, Louie is the other one.” Dad bent down and examined the goldfish, sure enough, one of them had a small dark dot where a nose would be if fish had noses. “Well little girl,” Mom said. “Its time for bed, say goodnight to Billy and Louie,”

As the days went on Sally learned how to feed the fish and clean the water.  Dad or Mom always helped but Sally did do what was asked. Often she would press her nose up to the glass and watch the fish swim. Once Mom caught her reading them a story.  Sally, not yet able to read, would make up a few lines and then hold the book up so the goldfish could see the picture.

One morning when Mom came to wake up Sally she had some sad news.  Mom sat on Sally’s bed and waited for the sleep to leave her eyes.  “Sally,” she started. “Your dad found Billy and Louie on the floor this morning.  They jumped out of their bowl and died.”

“But why did they do that? Did I do something wrong?” Sally asked.

“No sweetie,” Mom replied. “You didn’t do anything wrong, you were the best goldfish keeper I’ve ever seen.  I don’t know why they did it, I guess they wanted something else but they didn’t realize how good they had it.  Your grandpa once told me about a sheep that got its head stuck in a fence.  Even though it had plenty of good green grass in its pasture it was determined to go after what was on the other side.  

“Did the sheep die?”

“No, but it might have if grandpa hadn’t rescued it. People are like that too. God does a lot to take care of us but we think we know better and jump out of the fishbowl.”

After a few moments, Sally asked, “Mommy, if I jump out of the fishbowl will you put me back?”

“Sure, mind if I write that down for when you’re a teenager?”

“What’s a teenager?” Sally asked, her nose all wrinkled up like she smelled something bad.

Mom chuckled, “I’ll tell you later. How about some breakfast?”

Dale Heinold
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