Chloe woke up at one o’clock with a weight on her bladder. Groggier than usual, she stumbled her way to the bathroom and stepped in something – water. Her head ached. She remembered, but in her sleepiness, was hardly able to accept the memory as real. How she had arrived home hours earlier, eight o’clock, and seen Maizy, her Green Terror, sitting on the floor of her 30-gallon fish tank. She did that sometimes, brooding like a hen. Chloe had vaguely hoped that she wasn’t laying eggs again, which she would sit on for days and eventually eat. But there above her, an orange, unseeing eye in yellow fish face. Grumpert, her Red Devil, still and staring, large and hanging in the top of the tank. Maizy darkened below him, blinking, although, Chloe told herself, fish can’t blink. In an instant, she thought of ways in which so obvious a scene could be a mask for something more innocent. Grumpert maybe playing with Maizy? She thought she shouted, “No!” or said it quietly to no one, Liz having left for the weekend. Chloe dropped her bag on the floor and stepped closer to the tank, but up close, there was still nothing to do. She sat and let her eyes overflow. Desperate, she texted Steve: Grumpert died. Can you come over? She waited, but he didn’t respond. Somehow, a half-hour passed. Then Chloe got up off the couch and looked back in the tank. Still floating. Still brooding. Casper, an Albino Oscar, peeked cautiously out of a tiny rock cave, then retreated. Switching into auto-pilot, Chloe did what she had to. Grumpert was too big to flush, not that she felt comfortable with such a send-off. At the same time, she couldn’t imagine leaving him anywhere dry. Dead or alive, she wanted him in water. Dead. The closest suitable water source was a few blocks away, the creek at the bottom of Cascadilla Gorge. In lieu of a hearse, Chloe found a small frying pan. With her little green fish net – too small really to catch a moving Grumpert – Chloe gently lifted the little body out of the water. He was still beautiful, yellow and huge. She looked back at the tank. The fish seemed to meet her gaze, Maizy still on the bottom, Casper having moved to the other end of the tank. How long had Grumpert been dead? Setting the frying pan down, Chloe pulled the various supplies out of the cupboard under the tank: a bucket, a siphon, and a long tube. With frantic efficiency, Chloe evacuated a third of the water and a great deal of shit from the bottom of the tank, prompting Maizy to abandon her post above what was, thankfully, not eggs, but a comfortable-looking rock. Throughout the process, Chloe mumbled reassurances to her remaining two fish, pouring fresh water over their heads, you guys are okay. Maizy made a feeble attempt to fight with the siphon, and then hid with Casper at the back of the tank. Finished, Chloe glanced around to find where she had left Grumpert – on the stove, in a frying pan. She grabbed the handle and headed for the door, still wearing her Pizza Hut uniform.. It was embarrassing or ridiculous or sad. It was nine o’clock on Halloween, a Friday, and the streets of Ithaca weren’t nearly as deserted as she had hoped. Most people were either dressed up or drunk or both, but she was still the only girl holding a frying pan with a dead yellow fish in front of her, dodging people and cocked eyebrows as she walked down the street, headed towards the heart of College Town. Chloe held her head up, for Grumpert. She felt a little stupid to care so much about a fish. She knew a girl in high school whose family had a fish tank, and their fish died all the time, only to be replaced with new ones. But those fish were little, flashy. They came in schools. They weren’t the kind of fish that stuck in your ribs. She remembered Grumpert begging for food, his cat-who-ate-the-canary face, him floating wide at the top, and the dam almost burst again. She lurched a little, Grumpert shifted in the pan, and then she regained her control. No one had seen, she didn’t think. She crossed the street before College Town Bagels, and then crossed the bridge over Cascadilla Gorge. There was a little, nearly vertical path that zigzagged down the side of the gorge, through a thick growth of bushes and rocks. This had to be one of the creepiest places she could go alone on Halloween, and if it weren’t for her nerves already being shot in a different direction, she would have psyched herself out just thinking about the things Steve had told her about people jumping off that bridge. She carefully made her way down the path, holding Grumpert out before her, her sneakers slipping a little on the slick ground. It felt about ten degrees colder down in the gorge, and a shiver shifted up Chloe’s legs to her spine, tightening her shoulders and chattering her teeth. There were broken cans and bottles, and graffiti on every available surface, but Chloe didn’t really know it any other way. A damp mist hung above the water, a slow trickle down the lowest line of the gorge, just enough for her purposes. Chloe crouched next to the stream, shivered again. She looked down in the pan. He doesn’t look sick at all. He had been such a healthy fish. Chloe reached out a finger and gently pushed down, right in the middle of his body. She recoiled. He felt so solid, his skin textured like heavy-duty water-proof jackets. Which, she supposed, was appropriate. She wasn’t exactly sure what she had expected. She had expected never to touch him. Deciding not to prolong the moment any more than she needed to, she reached the little frying pan towards the water and slowly dipped it in. The cold water supported Grumpert’s body, and he moved swiftly and away down the stream, swimming backwards, a little gold leaf. He was still beautiful when he was dead. Chloe didn’t cry any more, even though she thought she might. She felt kind of peaceful and drained as she watched the spot where Grumpert had disappeared.