Lit Magazine

“Conrad”

A personal narrative

by: Emma Stone-Webb

Two days after getting my new pet fish I found myself on the floor crying while looking at his ripped up remains. My whole life I have always pestered my parents about how I wanted a pet. Getting one had always been so important to me because of my love of animals and because I always wanted to prove that I could take care of a pet on my own. However, when I asked my parents if I could get one I was always given the same reply, “you aren’t responsible enough”. My parents would always complain that if we got any pet they would have to do all the work and I would never help out, but I knew that if I got the chance to show them I could prove I would make a good owner. I was completely open to getting any type of animal from dog to parrot, but thanks to my friend my dream finally came true on my sixteenth birthday. 

On September 12th, 2019 I was thrown a huge surprise party by all my friends, but I was also given the surprise of my new pet goldfish, Conrad. My friend walked over to me with two wrapped boxes in her hand, I was completely clueless to what the gift might be. I started to unwrap the paper with suspense and excitement building up inside me until I finally saw the words “fish food” on a box. I immediately covered my mouth and my eyes started to tear up since I knew what my gift was. I looked up to see my friend Meghan walking over to me, fish bowl in hand with a majestic orange goldfish swimming inside. From the moment I saw this fish I immediately felt my heart become whole and felt such a special connection. I knew that I had to protect this fish at all costs and prove that I was capable of taking care of him. My friends saw this bond I formed and immediately began to make fun of me.

One of my friends yelled, “Lets eat Conrad!”, which caused everyone to take out a straw as they tried to steal the fish bowl and pretend to drink him. Even though it was quite hilarious my newly found maternal instincts kicked in and I fought with my friends to help protect him. I made sure I kept my body in front of him and I covered the top of his tank with my hands. I spent the rest of the night with him by my side just watching him as all my friends chatted on and enjoyed the party.

I later drove home that night and showed my parents my new pet and to my astonishment they seemed to love Conrad almost as much as I did. My mom admitted to me that she already knew I was getting the fish. Her saying this made me feel more prepared and ready to take care of Conrad since I knew that my mom believed I was capable of owning my own pet. My dad then offered to help set up my new fancy tank that had a filter in it since I wanted to give my new pet the best life possible. After we decorated the tank we brought Conrad up to my room and my dad and I just sat there watching him for about 20 minutes, we were so high on excitement and love at that moment. I spent most of the night watching him and taking videos and pictures to send to my friends and family.

The next day I went to the store with my mom and spent tons of money on decorations for his tank to make it homey and fun. I wanted Conrad’s tank to be the best tank in fish history. I bought him a little cave, a beach chair, and a plant. When I got home I spent a long time organizing his tank so that it would be perfect swimming conditions for him. Once I  placed him into his home with all the new decorations I just watched him to see how he liked everything. He seemed to really enjoy swimming through the bright pink cave I placed in the tank which made me so excited and proud of him for trying new things and swimming through the cave so well. 

The next morning I awakened with a sense of joy running through my veins and walked over to the tank to feed Conrad because I would not be home until 8:00pm that night. A feeling of sadness swept over me since I had to leave him all alone for the whole day. I turned on the tank light and peeked inside to find Conrad, but he was nowhere to be seen. My eyes scanned across the clear water, but could not find him until I turned the tank around and saw that he was hanging out behind the filter. I figured that he was just sleeping so I quickly sprinkled some food in the tank and left my new buddy.

Throughout the school day all I did was annoy my friends and peers as I gushed about Conrad and how much I adored him. I showed the pictures and videos to anyone and everyone who would let me. I spent the day just awaiting the moment when I could get home, run upstairs and see my fish again. The school day and my play rehearsal felt like an eternity as I anxiously awaited my return home. Once my day was finally over I rushed home. I quickly fumbled my key into the lock and let myself in through the front door. I said my hellos to my brother and mom as I raced up the stairs to my room to finally see Conrad after my long day.

I opened the door to my room and smiled as I walked over to my desk with the fish tank on it. I kneeled down and turned on the light to the tank so that I could get a good look at Conrad. My eyes roamed around the tank but couldn’t see him swimming anywhere so I assumed that maybe he was swimming out behind the filter again. I swiftly turned the tank around to find out that he was still there which made me feel butterflies in my stomach from how odd that seemed. I decided that I wanted to see him swim so I opened the tank and reached down to take out the filter. I unattached it from the side of the tank and lifted it out of the water and as I removed it I saw Conrad slowly start to rise from the bottom, only he was not rising in one piece. Immediately I stopped breathing, I just stood there in silence as I covered my mouth unable to move or think. Sadness consumes my body as the realization hits me like a huge truck; Conrad was dead.

Tears uncontrollably start pouring out of my eyes as I fall to the floor as I realize the torturous death my new pet had to endure. It seemed as though that Conrad was shredded up from the filter that he got stuck behind. My poor fish only had a home for two days before being brutally murdered, and I knew that the whole incident was my fault. I started to think about the fact that he had been dead all day and I was clueless enough to have no idea. I had been bragging and thinking about him all day when in reality he was sitting at home dead in my tank after going through a cruel and unfair death, I was mortified and ashamed.

 I texted my dad once I pulled myself together since I knew that he would be so heartbroken about this news and he responded saying “I’m so sorry. I have no words. I will be home soon”. This message made me cry even harder since it was hitting me that this was real. I was also so ashamed to text my dad this since he was right, maybe I was not ready to take care of a pet. This event in my life even though it was traumatic taught me a very valuable life lesson of the  importance of  responsibility. Even though it was the filter that killed the fish I played an unfortunate part in his demise. I should have known that the tank was too small and crowded for a big Goldfish like Conrad. I let the excitement of a new pet cloud my judgement. I should have known that he needed a large tank and I should have not filled his space with decoration which gave him no room making him end up behind the filter. Before quickly buying the fish tank and adding the decorations to it I should have done my research. I now know how important it is to be responsible and make good choices since I never want something like this incident to happen again.

Categories: Lit Magazine