I suppose it must have seemed, at the time, a symbolic and, perhaps, romantic decision to purchase a goldfish upon this, the four-week anniversary of your being dumped for the second time this year. It must, as well, have seemed apropos to choose a goldfish as glum and despondent as yourself: a red-cap oranda gliding listlessly among American shubunkins, separated from his kind, yearning for the touch and compassion of a fellow fish …
Let me assure you, first of all, that my lackluster fluttering about in the pet-store aquarium had little to do with my frustration at being a single goldfish in a world of happy goldfish twosomes and far more to do with the encroaching evil of dropsy, which is quickly and inevitably overtaking my fins, my gills, my scales, my fishy innards. Had you the experience of a 10-year-old, you would have perhaps thought it prudent not to pick the lethargic, moping goldfish and would have instead chosen the dominant oranda with the well-developed head growth that was swimming vigorously in the tank directly above mine.
Nevertheless, you chose me, and I fell at once for your sad face, your lips quivering with the pain of repeated rejection as you filled my tank for the first time, your gentle hands tenderly releasing me from the prison of my plastic carrying bag. Certain that my love would never be returned, I was grateful yet for the home you had so thoughtfully provided, the two gallons of Poland Spring filling the immaculate glassy sphere, the ironically goth accoutrements with which you decorated my new home (the black plant, the blood-red rocks, the tiny Angkor Wat statue). I was grateful, yes, but was saddened when you forgot to feed me. I thought at first that it was just a one-time oversight, the result of your drinking a full bottle of vinho verde (yes, I saw you) and passing out on your settee in this little hovel you were forced into when financial and emotional circumstances resulted in your being forcibly removed from your previous residence, which, if I understand correctly, had room for several furrier pets.
I had not yet given up all hope. However, when you realized at last that I could never adequately fill the void in your heart, nor respond to your cries for love and affection (though I tried, indeed, to mouth bubbles at you through the glass), your attentions became more and more engrossed in the wine and other activities and less in my care, as evidenced by the miserly bits of food sprinkled atop the water’s surface, the grime that increasingly affixes itself to the waving tendrils of the unnaturally black plastic plant, and the buildup of fish poop, which bestows upon my watery home an increasingly gloomy aspect. No, I was not unhappy when you chose me, though indeed your naming me after a depressive literary character did not help matters much. Nor did your constant moping about the men who had left you, as you shed tear after salty tear (did you consider my pH levels?) into my bowl. But now my dropsy advances, my kidneys have begun to fail; when I, eventually, expire, I regret that you will be left with the knowledge that you have driven off another creature, one incapable, however much he wanted to, of kissing your sad lips and taking you into his fishy fins and comforting your bloated, tear-filled visage.
As I intake my last waters, my gills filling painfully with the stale, unoxygenated Poland Spring you have so thoughtlessly not changed in over a week, I pray only that when you find my body floating belly up in the bowl, you will not despair, that you will, perhaps, replace me with one of my more energetic tank mates (I have, after all, a 15-day money-back guarantee), one that will be able to show you the attention you deserve and that will, perhaps, live to see the day when a human male may love you again. Although, perhaps, if that is your desire, you may want to stop talking at length to your goldfish.