by T. Gene Davis

“Fishie?” Little Evan asked over the sound of his mother flushing the toilet.

Ray stepped between Evan and Cecelia, squatting down to look into Evan’s watering eyes.

“I thought you said that Fishie went to heaven.”

Ray took a deep breath, keeping eye contact. “Evan, … Fishie, … well, he did some things … He’s gone to a bad place.”

Evan ran out the bathroom door, disappearing around the corner. Ray stood up, turning to his girl friend. She smiled, the lines of tension falling away as she tossed the cup in the garbage by the toilet. She threw her arms around Ray, kissing him until his lips hurt.

When she broke away for a breath she asked, “If naughty fish go down to the bad place, where do good fish go?”

“In the frying pan.”

She laughed. “I’ve met a lot of good trout.”

“It sounds so good to hear you finally laugh again.”

She let another laugh mingle with his.

From the other room they both heard Evan’s elated shouts.

“Fishie! Fishie! You’re back! You came back!”

Silence overtook the bathroom.

Ray looked into Cecelia’s face. Her eyes glazed over and the tension lines returned to her forehead.

“Of course it wouldn’t be that easy,” she said breaking off their embrace.

He followed her slow march to the kitchen where Evan hopped and danced around the kitchen island shouting, “Fishie! Fishie! You’re back!”

Notes …

This story was inspired by my daughter’s sad tale of unfortunate events that happened in her dorm room. We got talking about the classic line parents use on their kids when they flush the family’s dead fish down the toilet—”Fishie went to heaven.” Of course, knowing what also goes to fishie heaven besides Fishie makes us all wonder if Fishie didn’t go to a much worse place than heaven. It makes us wonder what Fishie did to deserve “fishie heaven.”

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