He couldn't bear to look at the empty aquarium anymore, so he left it outside on the sidewalk. He purposefully waited until the day after trash day hoping someone else would see it, take it, and give it new life.
Over the years it had housed many fish, but Nikolai's favorite was a clown fish he'd named Hubert. In Nikolai's mind Hubert was a sophisticated fish with a deeply philosophical mind and a French accent. Often, late at night when insomnia beat its angry drum on his chest, Nikolai would sit in the living room and talk to Hubert. He showed Hubert the works of his favorite artists from a large coffee table book, and read his favorite poems out loud. He felt that Hubert was particularly fond of Keats. He seemed to swim a little faster at the sound of an ode.
One morning, Nikolai awoke in his cracking leather chair to see Hubert floating motionless on top of the tank. Despite living by himself for as long as he could recall, it was the first time he felt truly alone.