Theresa’s car wouldn’t start, her cell phone had just died, so she ran all the way home.
He was already drunk when she got there, sitting in a chair placed in front of her small aquarium and singing a made-up song to a made-up tune.
Fishy fishy you’re too small to eat
Do you have a fat sister?
I bet she’d be sweet
Covered in butter
A juicy treat
Oh fishy fishy
Or at least that’s what Theresa thought she heard. The lyrics were slurred and slowly devolved into gibberish.
“And you call yourself a poet,” she said with disgust, as she picked up two empty bottles of Jagermeister and took them to the garbage.
“That wasn’t my best work,” her father roused himself enough to say. His eyelids were heavy; he blinked slowly. “It’s hard to write erotic poetry about fish.” He looked around. “Refill?”
Theresa wasn’t going to lecture him again. In fact she vowed to never again mention the fact that he was killing himself quickly, since it did no good at all and he was determined to either die or to do nothing to stop it. It didn’t seem to matter to him that his daughter might find it disturbing to watch her father destroy himself. She found a blanket and wrapped it around him, as he’d soon tip over like a poorly weighted statue and grow cold.
She’d tried to get medical help, withheld his pension cheques, dragged him to a counsellor, begged, pleaded, laid out a chart with graphs and pictures in the face of his indifference and resentment. Her one-bedroom apartment had become a hospice— the place her father had come to die.
When he was finally comfortable on the carpet she went into the hallway and tapped on her neighbour’s door. “Thanks Mrs. Kaling,” she said when the door opened to the full extension of the chain lock.
“God bless,” said Mrs. Kaling, whom Theresa had never met.
Well if he was going to do it, he wasn’t going to do it with her blessing. She would not lecture, but nor would she enable, aid or abet, and if she could physically stop him she damn well would. It was her home. Her roof. Her rules.
There was one thing she still had to tell him. When he got sick she would take him to the hospital. She would see him checked in and made comfortable. She would then leave and allow him to live his final days in a ward with other sick and dying. She was certain it would make no difference to him.
Fishy fishy, swim my way
While your fat sister and I pray
Flap your fins and tail
Shine on me, dead eyes
Small and pink and pale
Swim and shine and pray
Until you can swim no further
Shine on me, dead eyes.