Not Curtis

NORMAN the GOLDFISH Tells His Side of the Story

(as told to Kelly Bennett)


One day, I’m swimming around, minding my own business. The next thing I know I’m a birthday present.

Sure, I wanted a human. One that wanted me back.

And, understood at least a few words of fish.

Not Curtis.

He plopped my bowl down on a table and went off to play with his other presents.

I mean, I’m not asking for the ocean. I know humans and fish can’t do everything together. But, there is more to a goldfish’s life than just food flakes.

Curtis won’t even clean my bowl.

Who wants a human that makes you live in a gunky bowl?

“This is it, Curtis,” I decide. “I’m trading you for a good human.”

Suddenly, his big eyes are looking right at me.

“CLEAN MY BOWL!” I burble.

The next thing I know, Curtis is chasing me with a giant net.

“Please don’t hurt me.” I blub and pull my fins in tight.

Gentle as can be, Curtis lifts me out of my gunky bowl and into another. Keeping one eye on the net, I watch him scrub away the gunk.

It feels so good to swim in a nice, clean bowl again, I flip with joy.

 “Don’t think that just because you cleaned my bowl, I’m going to keep you,” I bubble. “As soon as I find a better human, I’m swimming on.”

Curtis laughs.

The next day Curtis takes me to school. If human schools are anything like fish schools, there will be lots to choose from. I’m hoping I’ll find a human I want.

On the way, Curtis stops to talk with a tall boy. The tall boy belongs to a mama dog with a mob of puppies.

Before I know it, those pups are on me. They’re poking at me with their paws and lapping my water. If those long tongues lick me, I’m a goner.

“Help!” I gurgle. “Help!”

I’m spitting, splashing, thrashing, but the tall boy doesn’t even notice.

By the time Curtis rescues me, most of my water is gone. He tucks my bowl under his arm and races to school. When we get there, he refills my bowl. And, he remembers the clean water drops.

Even Curtis is better than a tall boy with puppies.

I wait around the classroom almost all day. It’s not so bad since there are other pets waiting, too. One of them, green snake, wants a new human, too.

Finally, I get my chance. I’m showing everyone what a super pet I am when green snake makes her escape.

Does any one even see my twirls and flips?

Do they even count all the bubbles I blow?

No. They’re all yipping and yelling and jumping and racing around trying to catch green snake.

Not Curtis. He watches every one of my tricks. I blow him an extra bubble.

He smiles.

After snack, Curtis moves me to another room. This room is filled with humans playing with noise makers. A noise-making human could be good, I figure. If it’s a good noise.  I open my gills wide and listen.

Gluuuuuuuuuu glah deeeeee gloooooo glah daaahhh.

Whale music! I look around to see whose playing the whale song.

It’s Curtis! He’s blowing into a huge twisty, shiny thing and making music. It makes me so happy I have to join in.

“Don’t think I’m going to keep you just because I like your music,” I tell Curtis.

He blows some happy notes. 

That night I’m paddling around wishing I had a castle or plant to play with, when I hear a noise at the window.

Screech, Screetch.

Is it a cat? Is there a cat at the window?

I open my gills wide.

Scratch, scritch, screetch.

A giant cat monster is out there! It’s trying get me!  It wants to gouge me with its giant claws. It wants to bite me with its monster fangs.

“Help!” I glug. “Help Help!” I look around for an escape. That’s when I spot…

Curtis!

He isn’t scared. He isn’t sleeping either.

I motion to the window. “Out there,” I glug.

Curtis smiles and I feel safe.

Together, Curtis and I go over to the window. Curtis slides open the curtain.

There’s no giant cat monster. It’s just a silly old tree branch.

“Thanks for taking care of me, Curtis,” I gurgle.

A few feedings later, Curtis and I go to the pet store. While he’s looking at pets, I look at all the humans. I look at the big and short and tall and tiny humans. I look at the fuzzy humans and bald ones. I look at the quiet and friendly and sparkly humans, too.

They all look like good humans, but they are…

Not Curtis.

When I got Curtis, I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep him. But now, even if I could pick any human in the whole world, I wouldn’t trade him.

Not Curtis.



Picture1 (2).jpg

And, understood at least a few words of fish.

Not Curtis.

He plopped my bowl down on a table and went off to play with his other presents.

I mean, I’m not asking for the ocean. I know humans and fish can’t do everything together. But, there is more to a goldfish’s life than just food flakes.

Curtis won’t even clean my bowl.

Who wants a human that makes you live in a gunky bowl?

“This is it, Curtis,” I decide. “I’m trading you for a good human.”

Suddenly, his big eyes are looking right at me.

“CLEAN MY BOWL!” I burble.

The next thing I know, Curtis is chasing me with a giant net.

“Please don’t hurt me.” I blub and pull my fins in tight.

Gentle as can be, Curtis lifts me out of my gunky bowl and into another. Keeping one eye on the net, I watch him scrub away the gunk.

It feels so good to swim in a nice, clean bowl again, I flip with joy.

 “Don’t think that just because you cleaned my bowl, I’m going to keep you,” I bubble. “As soon as I find a better human, I’m swimming on.”

Curtis laughs.

The next day Curtis takes me to school. If human schools are anything like fish schools, there will be lots to choose from. I’m hoping I’ll find a human I want.

On the way, Curtis stops to talk with a tall boy. The tall boy belongs to a mama dog with a mob of puppies.

Before I know it, those pups are on me. They’re poking at me with their paws and lapping my water. If those long tongues lick me, I’m a goner.

“Help!” I gurgle. “Help!”

I’m spitting, splashing, thrashing, but the tall boy doesn’t even notice.

By the time Curtis rescues me, most of my water is gone. He tucks my bowl under his arm and races to school. When we get there, he refills my bowl. And, he remembers the clean water drops.

Even Curtis is better than a tall boy with puppies.

I wait around the classroom almost all day. It’s not so bad since there are other pets waiting, too. One of them, green snake, wants a new human, too.

Finally, I get my chance. I’m showing everyone what a super pet I am when green snake makes her escape.

Does any one even see my twirls and flips?

Do they even count all the bubbles I blow?

No. They’re all yipping and yelling and jumping and racing around trying to catch green snake.

Not Curtis. He watches every one of my tricks. I blow him an extra bubble.

He smiles.

After snack, Curtis moves me to another room. This room is filled with humans playing with noise makers. A noise-making human could be good, I figure. If it’s a good noise.  I open my gills wide and listen.

Gluuuuuuuuuu glah deeeeee gloooooo glah daaahhh.

Whale music! I look around to see whose playing the whale song.

It’s Curtis! He’s blowing into a huge twisty, shiny thing and making music. It makes me so happy I have to join in.

“Don’t think I’m going to keep you just because I like your music,” I tell Curtis.

He blows some happy notes. 

That night I’m paddling around wishing I had a castle or plant to play with, when I hear a noise at the window.

Screech, Screetch.

Is it a cat? Is there a cat at the window?

I open my gills wide.

Scratch, scritch, screetch.

A giant cat monster is out there! It’s trying get me!  It wants to gouge me with its giant claws. It wants to bite me with its monster fangs.

“Help!” I glug. “Help Help!” I look around for an escape. That’s when I spot…

Curtis!

He isn’t scared. He isn’t sleeping either.

I motion to the window. “Out there,” I glug.

Curtis smiles and I feel safe.

Together, Curtis and I go over to the window. Curtis slides open the curtain.

There’s no giant cat monster. It’s just a silly old tree branch.

“Thanks for taking care of me, Curtis,” I gurgle.

A few feedings later, Curtis and I go to the pet store. While he’s looking at pets, I look at all the humans. I look at the big and short and tall and tiny humans. I look at the fuzzy humans and bald ones. I look at the quiet and friendly and sparkly humans, too.

They all look like good humans, but they are…

Not Curtis.

When I got Curtis, I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep him. But now, even if I could pick any human in the whole world, I wouldn’t trade him.

Not Curtis.