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After Christmas Miracle

January 6, 2017

Here is a reworked fictional piece I wrote in 2012 that was inspired by a post Christmas trip to the mall.



The mall was choked with shoppers returning Christmas presents and looking for end of year deals. My sister had gifted me an unsuitable sweater and I’d come to return it. With the refund tucked into my wallet I worked my way to the mall exit. The aisles were jammed with sullen children, screaming babies and tired parents. Maneuvering around them required patience which at that moment I sorely lacked. I dodged into a pet store to calm my nerves and build up energy to slash my way through the jungle of shoppers to reach my car.


A rude young boy pushed past me with a crinkled dollar clutched in his hand. He pressed his nose to a tank swarming with goldfish advertised at a dollar each. An older man approached to wait on him. They didn’t appear to notice me but I was well positioned to hear their exchange.


“Can I help you, young man?” he asked politely.


“Are you Chinese?” the boy blurted.


“My parents were born in China, but I was born in San Francisco.”


The boy appeared to think about this for a moment, and then said, “I’ve spent all of my Christmas money ‘cept for this dollar. I guess I’ll take one of these crummy goldfish.”


“Have you owned a goldfish before? They require care to thrive, clean water and of course fish food.”


The boy rolled his eyes. “My sister got one for her birthday but a couple of days later it was dead. She said I could have the fishbowl and what’s left of the food.”


“I see,” the man said. “Do you know anything about goldfish?”


“I know they’re pretty darn cheap if you can buy ‘em for a buck.”


The salesclerk smiled. “Goldfish originated in China about a thousand years ago.”


The boy didn’t look as disinterested as he had a moment earlier.


“Can you imagine how long a thousand years is?”


“King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table lived a long time ago. Was it around then?”


The man nodded, oblivious to others impatient to be waited on. “Back then someone spotted a little grey fish in a creek with a fleck of gold on it. The fish was scooped up and placed in a pond with another fish with a single golden fleck and before long babies were born with two spots of gold. The process continued until, after much careful breeding, a fish was created that was completely gold in color. So you see it took ages to create the first of these tiny miracles. It’s true that today they aren’t expensive, but they certainly aren’t cheap.”


He carefully netted one of the fish and placed it in a plastic bag with water. Before handing over the fish he leaned toward the boy and spoke in a conspiratorial whisper. “You might want to keep it a secret, but these fish are special in another way. They possess the magic of good luck. Take care of it; feed it properly and keep its bowl clean. The longer this fish lives the stronger the magic.”


“What happens if it dies?”


He pretended to shudder. “Let’s not think about that. Besides, I have a feeling you’re going to take good care of this fish. Aren’t you?”


The boy nodded. After visiting the cash register, he left, carefully cradling the bag containing his new pet.


I smiled at the salesman and searched for a nametag. He wasn’t wearing one. “That was clever of you,” I said. “That fish didn’t stand a chance until you fibbed and told him it was magical.”


“I didn’t fib,” he explained. “That little fish is going to teach our young man responsibility, patience and kindness. What’s more magical than that?”


A few weeks later I again found myself in the mall. The post Christmas crowds were gone. I remembered the man in the pet store and decided to pay him a visit. I passed by the yapping puppies and meowing kittens, grumpy parrots and disinterested rodents until I came to the fish tank, still advertising goldfish for a dollar apiece. The clerk without the nametag was nowhere in sight. When another salesman approached I said, “I’m looking for an older Asian fellow who was working here a few days after Christmas.”


“I’m the manager,” he said, “and no one on our payroll meets that description.”


“What about seasonal help?”


“Sorry. Maybe you’re confusing ours with another store.”


“Is there another pet store in the mall?”


“No. Maybe you were at a different mall. But since you’re here, is there any way I can help you?”


I shook my head and turned to go, but I was halted by an impulse fluttering through my mind. “Yes, there is something you can do for me. I need a goldfish.”




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I vaguely remember this story. It hasn't changed, it is still excellent!
By: cranky on January 6, 2017
Inspirational--& eminently readable!!
By: fishducky on January 6, 2017
Ooh, a spooky twist at the end! Great story.
By: PT Dilloway on January 6, 2017
The wisdom of a Chinese sage. Great story.
By: Catalyst on January 6, 2017
I remember this story and enjoyed just as much if not more than before! Cheers!
By: Kathe W. on January 6, 2017
Guardian Angels come in all shapes and sizes. An excellent story!
By: messymimi on January 6, 2017
Yes, I remember it. I liked the twist at the end.
By: Val on January 6, 2017
I remember the story, too! Still love it.
By: Pixel Peeper on January 6, 2017
Thanks for the goosebumps and the feels, Stephen. Great story. Thank you for sharing.
By: Mr. Shife on January 6, 2017
Enjoyable. A great wheeze.
By: Tom Cochrun on January 6, 2017
You are just as good a storyteller as you are an artist!
By: The Broad on January 7, 2017
I LOVE this story. Thanks for a magical trip. I believe.
By: Arkansas Patti on January 7, 2017
Lovely story. I enjoyed the twist :)
By: Botanist on January 7, 2017

By: Bee BB Bee on January 10, 2017
What a great story Stephen. I almost think it's not fiction!
By: Bee BB Bee on January 10, 2017

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