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A Betta Life - Chapter 3: New Surroundings

Online Aquarium Fish Magazine | A Betta Life - Chapter 3: New Surroundings

By Mary Reyes
Loyola University Chicago

I do not know for how long I remained in the dark, although I do know one thing: it was terrifying. The dark usually came and went for a little time, then the light would be back, and again in a gentle cycle that reassured me of my existence, even though the latter had not made a good deal of sense for me at all. The only thing I could do was to sit and feel the tiny vibrations that I was sure came from the desperate attempts of my brothers to get out. I had already found out that sadly, all of the attempts to escape were futile.

It began to get colder, and colder. Until that moment, I had never really felt that cold before in my life; that day the warmth left me and I didn't know when it was going to come back. It was getting worse as the time went by, and my gills began to hurt even more than they ever did before. I found myself going up for air more often that I would usually do, just to find cold air that wasn't even refreshing at all. I felt the hunger; it reminded me of my cruel surroundings more than anything. At one point I didn't even know if I was still alive, or if I had died engulfed by some horrible creature. I would often tremble as would my brothers with every little shake that we felt and every movement that apparently came from nowhere. My stomach felt empty, it was an unusual emptiness that distracted me from the cold and the pain in my gills That day I met the hunger, one of the most horrible things I ever felt. The whole situation was almost as if I were lost in a never ending void that could not be filled with water.

One day, after a long time being lost in that endless darkness, the light finally came when I thought it would never come back. When my eyes were finally able to see my surroundings, I became the witness of a gruesome reality I had never encountered before.

In some of the bubbles surrounding mine, where my brothers were the last time I saw them there were motionless figures, all of them pale and slim, with the eyes lost in eternity as if they had died looking up at me for help. They reminded me of my father, sitting in that lonely space, motionless and cold like if the cruelest of diseases had stolen the life from his body. Some of my other brothers were still alive, sitting in the bottom of their bubbles, patiently waiting for death.

At least I wasn't that pessimistic. I knew there had to be a way to get out of that life, and even though I had no idea what other lives were out there, I knew for a fact that the life I had been living so far was not the greatest of all. Why would life have to be an endless continuity of pain and suffering? Wasn't there anything else that a tiny thing like me could aspire to, besides being continually waiting for something bad to happen?

Slowly, my brothers and I were taken from out pitiful little bubbles; the dead were discarded, and the rest of us placed in a tiny, minuscule container. It was dreadful; I could barely turn around in that tiny thing. As we were placed stacked one on top of the other, I realized my cruel reality and my optimism began to disappear. I soon realized wasn't about to leave that place, something about it was even more disturbing than when we were in the initial cylinders it was so bizarre to look at the repetitive images once again like an endless reiteration of images looking the same. I met some new faces; some of the others that were stacked next to me were not my brothers They all looked so pathetic. As we continued to be stacked I noticed more dead bodies in the tiny cups, in what looked like a dark fuzzy water, they were soon taken away. I must be honest now and say that I never felt so scared in my whole life and that what I did not know was that this was just the beginning of the nightmare.

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