I've been told that a good writer conducts careful research of each and every story to be sure everything is as true as possible. This story has been thoroughly researched and is absolutely true!
One day, I was feeding my fish when I noticed something really odd. My fish was floating upside-down at the top of the fishbowl. I thought it might be dead, so I took the wire fishnet to scoop it out. But as soon as I put the net into the tank, the fish swam away from it!
Now as I said, this was really odd. The oddest thing was that the fish didn't swim with its fins. It just kind of moved away from the net, as if the net was pushing it along, only without touching it.
I took the net from the bowl, and the fish floated to the top again. I waited. The fish didn't move. I put the net into the water again, and again the fish began to move.
How very odd, I thought and knew at once that I needed to investigate.
My fish was floating at the top of its bowl, but whenever I tried to scoop it out with the wire net, the fish would move away from the net. What could be causing that? I put the net down. The first thing to do was talk to my sisters. Maybe one of them had seen something strange.
I found Julia painting in the bedroom.
"What are you doing?" I asked.
Sunshine danced on Julia's red hair as she stepped back from the easel and chewed the end of her paintbrush. "Painting," she said.
"Okay," I said. I looked from Julia's paint-smudged face to her painting of a flower fairy. "Julia," I said, "do you know what happened to my fish?"
Julia smeared some paint along the petals of a flower. "What happened to your fish?"
Hmmm. Julia didn't seem to know anything. Her question was a dead giveaway. "Never mind," I said. I left Julia to her painting and went to look for the twins, Britney and Annie.
Britney and Annie were with Melissa. She was teaching them to sing, "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" in round.
"Row, row, row!"
"Your oars, gently down the…"
"Row, row, row!"
"Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily….."
"Row, row, row!"
"Down the stream!"
"Row, row, row!"
"Merrily, merrily, merrily….."
"Life's a butter bean!"
Their words were getting all mixed up, and I couldn’t make sense of it. I decided to leave the twins to their singing lesson and find Lily.
Lily was in the basement, busily sewing the hem of her dress to a piece of fabric.
"Darn!" said Lily. "How did that get in there?" She took out the stitch ripper and began taking out the stitches.
"Why did you sew your dress to that fabric, Lily?"
"Don't ask," said Lily.
"I just did."
Lily frowned at me. I could see this conversation was going nowhere so I decided to get to the point.
"Lily, do you know what happened to my fish?"
"Becky was playing with it this morning," she said. "Why don't you ask her?"
Becky At last, a lead! "Thanks, Lily!" I ran upstairs to find Abeka Louise.
Becky was just coming into the house, carrying a handful of mail. She dropped it on the counter and began shuffling through it.
"Anything interesting?" I asked.
"No." Becky looked at me. "Lizzie! It's you! I wanted to ask you. Did you see what I did for your fish?"
"My fish is dead."
Mail fanned around us like a snowstorm. (I really like that line. Maybe I'll use it again sometime.)
"Oops," said Becky.
I helped her pick up the mail. "What happened to my fish, Becky?"
Becky chewed on her lip as she tapped the mail into a neat pile. She set it on the counter, picked it up, and tapped it again to straighten it. "Your fish can't be dead," she said. "I researched it on the Internet, and it shouldn't have harmed the fish at all."
"What did you research? Dead fish?"
"No, not dead fish," said Becky. She set the mail down and turned to me. "Something more interesting than dead fish. You know how the cats are always trying to catch your fish? Well, I read on the Internet that if you magnetize the fish's water, it will repel the cat and they'll leave the fish alone. And, if the cat should happen to drink the water, you get the bonus of a magnetized cat that repels fleas. Fleas can't cling to a magnetized cat."
I think my mouth dropped, and I made a sound kind of like, "Huh?"
"Here, let me show you," said Becky. I followed her to the bedroom. The dead fish sloshed about in the water as Becky picked up the fishbowl to show me a magnet she'd taped to the bottom. "See?"
"Hmmmm," I said. "I don't see how taping a magnet to the bottom of the bowl could kill my fish. Is there anything else you may have done?"
"No. Really. I only taped the magnet to the bottom of the bowl. It's a pretty powerful magnet, but I don't think it should have killed the fish either." She put the bowl down. "Let's see if the Internet says anything about magnetism and dead fish."
We hurried to the computer. Hours and hours of thorough research proved that, indeed, Becky was onto something with that magnet trick. The water had indeed become magnetized, which explained why the wire net repelled my fish. (Honest. I'm not making this up.)
Nothing, though, explained why my fish had died. Everything we read said that magnetizing a fish was good for it.
In the end, I flushed the dead fish down the toilet. The twins sang "Lizzie Had a Little Fish" to the tune of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" (those twins are so silly sometimes), and Melissa wrote a poem (you can read the poem here).
I bought another fish. Becky and I kept the magnet on the bottom of the fishbowl, to keep the cats away, and our new fish liked the arrangement just fine.
We never figured out why the first fish died. Maybe its time had come. Who can tell with fish? But at least we'd solved, "The Mystery of the Magnetic Fish!"
until the next mystery...
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