Jay Delms

I see my new home in the woods, Gilmore thought. Excited, he pressed his goldfish-face against the clear, plastic water bag the pet salesman had put him in.

His new owners, a bear family, were driving him home. Their rusty blue car bumped down the country road toward a log cottage. Among the trees, it came into full view. It had red and yellow tulips near its front door. The green lawn glimmered. I see it! he thought.

Holding the water bag up high, Mama Bear said, “Pull up next to the house, Papa. I’ll rush this fish to its tank before the cubs see it.” Quickly, Mama Bear went to the living room, and emptied the bag into the box-like tank. Papa Bear parked the car.

Wow! This tank’s huge, Gilmore thought. I’ve got rocks to hide behind, too.

“Feeding time,” Mama Bear said. She sprinkled dry fish food on top of the water. Papa Bear settled into his big easy chair with a newspaper in his paws.

“Where are the twins?” he asked.

Uh Oh! Gilmore wondered. Twin kids?

“They’re playing in the backwoods,” she replied.

“Hope they stay out of trouble,” he said.

“Me, too,” she said. “I hope they treat this new fish better than the last one.”

Oh no! Gilmore thought. I’m in trouble.

“I hear them coming now,” Mama said.

“Hi, Ma and Pa,” Nellie quipped as they came in.

“What’s up?” Eddy asked.

“Feeding our new fish,” Mama replied. “Its name is Gilmore.”

“A goldfish! Look, Nell, it’s big.”

“Pretty too,” Nell said.

Am I a girl now? Gilmore thought.

Nellie stuck her arm down into the water. “Here, fishy.” Suddenly, her elbow slipped from the edge of the tank. “Oh dear!” she exclaimed. “I almost tipped it over.”

Oh my! Gilmore thought. That one’s clumsy as a whale in a bathtub!

“Be careful! Nellie,” Mama scolded. “You cubs go take a bath before supper. I’ll start your water.”

“Okay, Ma,” Eddy mumbled. “Don’t forget the sudsy soap.”

“Once a week is too often,” Nellie whispered to Eddy as they slowly moved toward the bathroom.

“That’s for sure,” she said. Gilmore watched them disappear into the hallway.

“Okay, Guys, your bath and soap are ready,” Mama said.

“Thanks, Ma,” Nellie said.

“You cubs behave. No water on the floor, you hear?” Then, Mama Bear went outside to tend the flowers. The screen door slammed shut behind her.

“Let’s get started,” Eddy groaned as they entered the bathroom.

“Eddy, let’s add more soap,” Nellie suggested.

“You know what, Nell? Let’s get Gilmore, too.”

“Good idea,” she said. “I’ll grab our play bucket.” They snuck into the living room. Nellie dropped the bucket into the tank where it landed on its side.

What are these guys doing? Gilmore wondered. I’d better hide, fast.

“Got him,” Nellie yelped. “He hid in the bucket I dropped next to a rock.”

Oh no! Where are they taking me? Nellie poured Gilmore into the tub with her.

“Turn on the water, Nell,” Eddy said. “Make it deeper for Gilmore.”

This is crazy, Gilmore thought. I can’t breathe in this bubbly mess.

“Ma’s not going to like this,” Eddie said.

“Aw, come on,” Nell said. “Watch me splash both my feet.”

“Maybe you shouldn’t, Nell!”

Oh! Gilmore moaned. This soap is thick. I must get myself out of here.

I’ll leap into the air.

Frantically, he swam to the bottom of the tub, and then darted upward with all of this strength.

“Nell, stop it! I saw Gilmore jump from the tub?”

“Where?” she asked. “Oh no! He’s lying in a puddle next to the tub.”

I can breath a little with one gill, Gilmore thought, relieved. Maybe they’ll help me now?

“Is he dead, Nell? “

I feel sleepy, Gilmore thought.

Eddy and Nell bent down over Gilmore.

“I don’t like this, Eddy.”

“Me neither. Let’s rush him back to his tank.”

Groan. It’s working. Hurry!

“We’re sorry, Gilmore. Hurry Nell.”

“He’s in,” Nell said. Teary eyed, they watched Gilmore sink motionlessly to the bottom of the tank. Small air bubbles rose from his gills.

“What’s going on here?” Mama Bear blurted, coming through the doorway. “Why’s the floor wet? Hey! Why is Gilmore on the bottom of the tank?”

“We just learned something, Ma,” Nell said.

“Yeah, what’s that?” Mama demanded.

“Gilmore is already clean!” she replied.

Good thought, Guys! No more baths, please. Gilmore took a deep breath.

©2008 Jay Delms


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