Open Letters to People or Entities Who Are Unlikely to Respond
Send your nonfictional open letters to firstname.lastname@example.org.
An Open Letter to My Dead Betta Fish, Daisy.
When the worker fell through our ceiling, he thought of everything he could. He immediately vacuumed up all the insulation that had been rotting in our rafters since the 1950s and now covered our home like snowfall. He sucked so hard he broke the Dyson. He cleaned every speck of dust on all the surfaces he could see, anticipating our intense rage of a 6 × 3 foot man-shaped hole in the ceiling.
He did not think of you, Daisy. He did not realize that your fancy fountain open-top tank allowed pounds of insulation to fall in. The material possessions did not matter to me as much as you did, Daisy, but he didn’t think of you. You didn’t give a shit then, Daisy. You’re a Betta fish. Shit falls in your tank and you eat it. You ate a lot of insulation, Daisy. And you were doomed. So why did you take so long to die?
I cleaned your tank awaiting your death within the week. We’d have a dead fish by Christmas. You taught death to our children. We babied you. We put you in the center of our household and held vigil.
You still didn’t give a shit, Daisy. You were an ugly fish, a girl, with no fancy frills or fins. Your glass eyes conveyed no emotion as we waited.
I tried harder. I scoured the Internet. Most do not care about an ugly Betta fish, but I did, Daisy. I crushed frozen peas and suspended the green matter on toothpicks for you to eat. You treated me like a lunatic. There I was, hovering over your tank covered in frozen pea flecks waiting for you to eat. They were not your usual fare of mosquito larvae and you turned your tail up at me. Perhaps you were waiting for another delicacy of construction material.
I left for a month. I came back to find you with a horrible bulge at the end of your body. Finally, the end was near, Daisy, you had to know. We again held vigil, your bump of rotten insulation swelling inside of you.
You didn’t give a shit, Daisy. You hadn’t pooped for three months; it did not bother you. You were indifferent to medical treatments, water changes, and constant coaxing to please, for the love of God, eat the peas so you can shit, you stupid fucking Betta fish or I swear I will lay waste to any fish I ever—
But all the pep talks and threats did not change your mind. You were going to eat the food you loved, and you were not going to shit. I began looking up ways to humanely murder you. Freezing? You might painfully feel the water crystallizing in whatever fish circulatory system you possessed. Chopping off your head quickly? My aim with a butcher knife is questionable, at best. Flushing you down the toilet? While you were still alive, Daisy, I couldn’t do it.
I spent more money on treatments that wouldn’t work. I was a regular at PETCO, the insane person who should have a dead Betta fish instead of a constipated and immortal Betta fish. Not many would go the distance for you, Daisy, but I did, like I did for Gary the Snail. I just didn’t figure out in time that he was starving to death.
Not for you, Daisy. You didn’t give a shit, but you were going to live. I thought about putting you in my will. Which of my children could be driven insane by your longevity? I accepted this fate. You had swallowed your weight in insulation, but that didn’t determine your destiny.
No, you jumped out of the fucking tank while I was sleeping. I put you back in to see if your suicide was unsuccessful. But Bettas sink when they die, Daisy, and you sank to the bottom and remained motionless. Something happened to you, Daisy, but you still didn’t give a shit.
Thanks, Daisy, for teaching me that hoping for life or death is completely fucking pointless.
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