Flash Non-Fiction

This past Thursday, I posted about how our #4 daughter and I made a backyard goldfish pond that was doomed from the start. The fish, on the other hand, thrived. I believe we lost one out of the four, but the others thrived and grew fat.

The pond, not being deep enough, had to be abandoned when winter came, so we moved the fish indoors. They did so well, they got too big for the tank. When they were too big to be used as piranha food, we traded them in at the pet store for an equal number of small fish and raised those up to be fat and sassy. Our trade-ins were quarantined until their health was certain, then they were sold to people with big ponds who wanted to start out with big fish.

The Coming of Flash

Photo Credit: Ryan Hill

If you’ve kept fish, you know they don’t poop rainbows. No, not even trout. And a healthy tank is a tank you have to clean algae off of ALL the TIME. So, to help us out, we got a dojo loach. I don’t have a picture of him, alas. The picture here is from a wonderful website called Fish Lore, which I wish I had had available back when we had fish. This is just what our dojo loach looked like, though.

The dojo loach seemed disinterested, not to say bored, with the whole tank thing. He spent so much time doing nothing much, we named him Flash. Irony, you see.

I don’t know if he stopped worrying about what the cool kids would think, or outgrew being all emo or what, but he perked up after a while and lived up to his name. All the fish recognized me as the Food Lady, and danced around at the top of the tank when I came into the room. Flash would nibble at my fingers if I stuck them into the water.

Flash Got Game

And here’s the thing: Flash played with our #4 daughter. She stuck her face up against the tank wall. Flash leapt up like he’d just been goosed and flashed across to the other side of the tank. She moved to that side and stuck her face up to the tank. Leap! Flash!

He would only do that with her. If she didn’t come play, he swam back and forth to lure her, or came to the surface and splashed with his tail to get her attention.

The Passing of Flash

One day, we were all out at various places. I came home, and Flash was gone. Just gone. As in nowhere to be seen in that tank. I knew he liked to burrow, so I wasn’t worried at first, but it was time for a cleaning; I cleaned out the tank, which involved rinsing the gravel in the bottom, and…no Flash.

Weeping and cursing, I finished cleaning the tank and treating the water and put the horrible, monstrous, loach-eating cannibal goldfish back.

I can never do anything without slopping some of it on the floor, so I got out the broom and relieved my feelings by cleaning up the gravel. I moved a chair to sweep under it–and there was Flash! Halfway across the floor from the tank!

Not even I could accidentally drop something the size of a cigar and not notice it, so he had to have been there all the time. I’d been home for an hour–how long had he been out of the tank?

I put his dry carcass into a bowl of water. Why? I don’t know. #4 daughter and Charlie came home, and I suggested a funeral, which #4 seconded.

But– Flash was alive! Now I see this on Fish Lore:

They are accomplished escape artists and will find any open holes in the top of the tank. Make sure your tank hood is well secured. It is interesting to note that this fish can breathe in air when the oxygen levels in the water become depleted. So, if yours has jumped from the tank, try putting it back in the tank as soon as possible. You never know…

Sure enough, Flash lived another couple of years.

I don’t know what happened at last. They told me at the pet store that the water company changed the chemicals they used or something; all I know for certain is that, in spite of letting the water air out and adding treatment drops to it, all the fish, including Flash, went belly-up one day. If you’ve never kept fish, you may not know how much it hurts to lose fish, but it hurts really bad. We decided we wouldn’t put any more fish in the way of such a death, and cleaned out the tank for the final time.

But Flash…. Flash will always live in memory.

WRITING PROMPT: Give a character in your book, work-in-progress or imagination a childhood pet.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Flash Non-Fiction

  1. damyanti

    June 11, 2011 at 9:55am

    Thank you so much for writing this. It was moving in so many ways, and reminded me of so many of my fish stories!

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