It's cheese making day, and I'm a little distracted. Time for a quick cup of coffee before heading to the cheese room. I notice the kettle is taking ages to boil,(a watched kettle never boils!) and realise there is a great deal of lime- build-up around the element. There's a product called Calci-clean that's very effective at descaling kettles. It's pretty potent stuff. I think it contains hydrochloric acid. I add half a cupful to the Kettle and it begins to fizz. The phone rings. Abandoning the job at hand I take the call. Ten minutes later I realise I'll have to skip my coffee break, and dash to the cheese room to add the rennet to the vat of milk.
I complete the batch of cheese. I'm now aching for that cup of coffee. When I get back the house, all is quiet. Bliss.. Jack and Anna must be in the veldt. En route to the kitchen I pause to feed Shiny Goldie, and notice that his water looking a little murky. It'll take me two ticks to clean the fish bowl. Then I'll enjoy my coffee.
The bowl is clean, and refilled with fresh water. It's winter and the tap water is icy cold. I decide to add a dash of hot water from the kettle. I don't want the poor fish to freeze...
I place the goldfish back on the sideboard. Something is clearly wrong! There seems to be blood coming out of his gills! Shiny Goldie definitely does not look happy. Shucks. Did I make the water too hot? In a panic, I rush back to the kitchen to add more cold water.
Suddenly it hits me. l can't breathe. "F--k, F-ckity, F-ck!" The Calci-clean! I feel sick; Horrified. There's a terrible pain in my chest. Shiny Goldie is floating lifelessly on his side. I can't tell if he's dead or alive. Like a cat, I give him a couple of taps with my finger. He tries to swim, but it's no use. He floats to the surface again. I'm a murderer. Silently I sob. Tears streaming down my face. I vow never to eat fish again. I know I'm completely over reacting. It's just a goldfish for goodness sake. But he was our goldfish.
Anna! What will I tell her? She's back from the veldt. It takes every ounce of my courage to tell her the truth. I tell her that mummy made a terrible mistake. She's crying. Absolutely heartbroken. I feel like a monster. I promise her I'll get her another fish. She says she doesn't want another fish ever again.
Jack wants to know why Anna is so sad. I tell him the story. "Thanks goodness it was the fish, and not you who drank the water," he mutters. Zero emotion. He's missed the point completely. He shakes his head at my stupidity and walks out. Sometimes men just don't get it...
Okay, enough doom and gloom. There is a happy ending. When we arrive at our neighbours for dinner that night, they've heard the story. News travels fast in the Karoo. Anna is presented with two goldfish that they caught from their pond. Our friends are wonderful! Anna is delighted. She decides to call her new pets Shiny and Goldie.(Goldie is the bigger one.) I'm delighted to report that they are still both looking very happy!