Our neighbors went out of town for Christmas, and I agreed to feed and water their cat and fish while they were gone. We do this sort of thing often when anyone goes out of town. But after this last stint as fish feeder, I may not get asked to pet sit again.
My parents and sister stayed at our neighbors' house for part of the holidays, and my sister came over one morning to announce that one of the fish was floating upside-down. I was horrified. The last time one of his fish died, the little boy next door was very traumatized; he cried for hours. After they flushed Hermione the fish, L told his mom that he though one of his tears had fallen in the potty and had brought Hermione back to life, which meant they had just flushed a live fish. Nothing his mom said changed his mind about that theory. L insisted on having a funeral service for Hermione the fish. His mom was at a loss on what to serve for a fish funeral. She asked if it would be tasteless to serve the mourners goldfish crackers.
After my sister's announcement, I went next door and scooped the fish out and popped it in a zip-lock bag, which I then put in the freezer. I called our neighbor and left a message on her cell alerting her to the situation. When she called back and I told her the fish was in the freezer, she just about died laughing.
But I had my reasons for freezing the fish. First, I didn't know if L would want to have an internment or funeral service or ceremonial flushing, so I figured I'd better preserve the corpse. Second, I wanted to have the fish on hand just in case we needed to go to the pet store to buy a replacement fish. That way I could hold the fish up and say, "I need one just like this, please."
My mom had the best suggestion on how to handle it. She said we should just buy four or five new fish and pop them in the tank. When L got home, we could just tell him that Santa brought him new fish. He'd be so excited about the new fish that he wouldn't notice the missing one. My neighbor nixed that idea.
In the end, no one did anything with the dead fish. L hasn't yet noticed that it is missing from the tank, which is a good thing. I really, really don't want to be known as the neighborhood fish killer.