Freddy This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     It’s so ugly, I thought, staring into the eyes of the goldfish my grandmother had given me for my fifth birthday. It’s hideous. It was little and black with two huge eyes protruding from the sides of its head. It didn’t even seem to swim, it just waddled through the water like a penguin. I was almost speechless, but was able to fake an “I love it!” before anyone noticed my disappointment.

It seemed to mock me every second I had it in my room. I would sit on my bed and glare at it, wishing it could have been anything else. Grandma had never really been great with gifts, but the ugly sweaters and useless toys that broke after a few days were million-dollar gift certificates compared to the heinous creature she was trying to pass off as a present this year.

The worst part was that my parents loved the fish. My mother thought it was adorable and for some reason my father connected to it. They even took it from my room and made it the family pet. I couldn’t take it. Had everyone gone mad? The fish not only resembled something out of “The X-Files,” but it was boring! They named it Freddy. Freddy the Fish, how original! As if it needed more reasons to be dull.

The next week while shopping with my mother, we made a quick stop at the fish store to get some food for Fred. That’s when I saw the most beautiful fish. It was yellow with streaks of black and white covering its fins and back. Watching it swim was like watching the most graceful ballerina glide across a stage. Its almost translucent tail flowed proudly behind it like the American flag in the wind on the Fourth of July. She was so beautiful, so dignified.

“Mommy, look! A friend for Freddy!” I exclaimed, hoping to persuade her to purchase my new obsession.

“We already have a fish, Sweetie. Maybe when we need a new one, we can come back and look,” she answered, unintentionally providing me with the most devious of plans. Freddy had to go.

That night while brushing my teeth, I could see Freddy out of the corner of my eye and knew that it was now or never. I ran to his bowl, scooped him out and flushed him down the toilet. It wasn’t until I watched Freddy spiral

into his watery grave that I began to feel something I never really had before - guilt.

The next morning my parents were bewildered by the missing fish. I told them I had found him dead and given him a proper burial, but I knew the truth. I had kidnapped and banished him because he was ugly.

The next day my mother took me back to the fish store. The yellow fish was still there, as beautiful as ever. But, I ended up leaving the store with a fish that looked identical to Freddy. While I stared at all the tanks of fish, I realized how selfish and cruel I had been to Fred, and felt like I had to make it up to him. So I brought home one of his brothers and named him Larry. For the next three years, I flushed fish food down the toilet so that Freddy would have enough to eat. And although he was the unfortunate victim of a small child’s ignorance, Freddy became my first step toward having an open mind.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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Barrie88 said...
Apr. 14, 2009 at 12:26 am
most of the other essays on this site i could just blink at and care less about, but this one really made me feel....soft, i got really sad reading this.
 
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