It so happened that I, really, --ironically-- am the one who bonded with Rainbow Boy. Though Ben shook his head every time I said it, the fish was incredibly responsive. He'd come right to the glass when I talked to him. Follow my voice if I moved to the other side of the tank. He gobbled food (betas aren't supposed to eat much, or move much for that matter) and would swim to the surface and look right into my eyes.
I know -- it sounds ridiculous. But really, he did.
A few weeks ago, I changed his water and instead of using the drops to purify it, I used water I'd set out all night. Half an hour later, he floated perfectly still in his tank. I ran out to Ben feeling surprisingly sad but also a tinge of relief. But Rainbow Boy, we found, was still hanging on. Quickly, I changed the water again, this time with drops, Silas now at my elbow asking questions as I worked:
But what if he does die?
Well, then it was time for him to go.
We fed him too much.
No, we didn't -- we took good care of him.
No, you didn't use the drops.
(OH NO! please don't let him die right now -- there is blame involved!!!)
And Rainbow Boy pulled through. But I noticed he wasn't quite the same. The kids didn't notice, but he hardly moved and ate less each day.
This afternoon, we walked into the house, and Eden stopped at the bowl:
Rainbow Boy! You aren't that color!
And sure enough, he hadn't ever been. He lay at the bottom of the bowl mostly colorless. After I was sure, I we all gathered in the bathroom and Silas howled, which shocked me after his last reaction. He's now snuggled next to me, every few moments offering another theory or asking a question: Where do those pipes go?... Where is Rainbow boy?... I think we gave him too much food... I think the food we got him was the wrong kind. It must have had a chemical in it that made him die... Yes, that's what I think.
We've decided to save his plastic plant.