You finally get the chance to take your son fishing. You tell yourself it’s not about the fish, it is about spending quality time together.
Right. Quality time in the oppressive heat, providing valuable nutrition for mosquitoes—and they were the only thing biting. Seven hours with a sulky, silent, teenager who evidently had other plans this weekend.
You finally give up and pack away the equipment for the day. Some vacation. On the way back to the car, you happen upon the spot the fish were vacationing. Does this turn the trip around? What happens next?
In 250 words or less, tell me a story incorporating the elements in the picture. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.
Please keep language and subject matter to a PG-13 level.
Use the comment section below to submit your entry. Entries will be accepted until 5:00 PM Pacific Time on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012.
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On Friday morning, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature. Best of luck to you all in your writing!
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9 thoughts on “Week 21 Flash Fiction Challenge: Gone Fishin’”
We had started back to the car as Jeff was totally ready to jump ship, and the fishing had been lousy. Driving down this trail like road I remembered being here years ago when Jeff was just a boy, and when I came to the familiar fork in the road instead of heading for the highway I drove back into the interior.
Jeff was looking totally disgusted at this point in time, “I thought we were heading home, where you heading to now?” “Keep your shirt on Jeff; I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”
Chalk Creek was less than a mile down this road and I know when Jeff sees it pleasant memories will come to him. I stopped at the next clearing and invited my son to join me, “Follow me Jeff I want to show you something.”
When we rounded the bend Chalk Creek was visible and Jeff got this huge smile on his face, “I remember this place dad, this is where we watched the beaver swim across the dammed up portion of the creek. He climbed up on the bank, leaned against his broad tail and scratched his tummy. I was hard to stay quiet as it was so funny to watch.”
“That’s right Jeff, and you were just five. We have been so busy lately we have forgotten how simple things can be the most fun. Hopefully Mr. Beaver will be there again today.” “Even if he isn’t dad, the memory is priceless.”
Phoenix already had his iPhone to his ear and his fishing equipment thrown in the Jeep by the time I noticed the abundance of fish splashing in the creek to my right.
I looked up at Pheonix and asked myself where I had gone wrong. I could remember long days of being out in the burning sun with my own father, hours spent silently waiting for just one fish to bite at the worms we had dug up ourselves. I had loved every minute of it.
And to this day, I still wish I had spent more time with him.
Now, after fifteen years, Phoenix would still rather be on that damned phone than spend a little quality time with his dad. I sighed and resignedly made my way to the Jeep. These were different times. Maybe I just wanted something that simply did not exist anymore.
"Dad, you dropped your hat," Phoenix called. "I'll call you back," he said as he pocketed his phone and jogged behind me to retrieve my hat. "Dad, do you see this?"
I turned to see him staring at the splashing fish. "Guess we were in the wrong spot," I replied, starting back to the Jeep.
"We're not leaving now, are we? Let me get my rod." He jogged back to the car, a smile on his face.
I'd be lying if I said that I didn't shed a tear as a smile of my own spread across my face.
“Thirteen!” I watched as my Dad counted ‘em again, left to right. They lay there, all shiny, on the slats that made up the floor of this rented row boat. I thought I was going to explode.
“Yep. Thirteen.” He reached down and roughed up my hair, adding, “That’s my boy!”
It was the end of the best fishing trip I could remember. Usually I just sat and stared at the water while he cast his gear over and over again. He’d usually get a solid strike or three while I got to feed the fish. At the end of a normal day on the river, he’d bring home a couple more Steelhead to add to the stacks of frozen fish, wrapped in aluminum foil in the refrigerator freezer. I always told Mom I’d had a great time, but It got to a point where I was always hoping we’d have something else to do on a weekend, like mow the lawn or weed the garden.
But not that day on Lake Pendoreille. First time he’d rented a boat, too. I’ll never know how it happened. He never really told me why, but that one, shining day, when I caught thirteen beautiful Lake Trout – the legal limit – to his one, was the best day of fishing I ever had, or would have. When I think of my Dad, I remember his pride when we pulled up to the rickety dock and he told the man how we did.
We simply stood there watching the fish jump. I could tell Ron was at his wits end. He so wanted to be back within signal range so he could text his friends to make plans for the evening. Suddenly a dark shadow crossed over the two of us. A bald eagle swooped down directly in front of us grabbing a large silver fish in it's powerful talons. We watched in disbelief as the eagle rose up carrying the heavy fish. Its wings beat powerfully as it gained altitude and headed for the tree line. We watched as it skillfully transferred the fish into one talon and gently landed near the top of a tall Douglas fir tree. The bird looked directly at us for just a brief moment before tearing into the fish with its beak.
On the ride home, Ron was animated. “Have you ever been that close to an eagle before, Dad?” He asked. I smiled, “Never son.” For the next fifteen minutes Ron went on and on about the eagle. As we neared town he pulled out his phone. “Texting your posse , eh?” I asked. Ron's smile touched his eyes in a way I hadn't seen for years.
“No Dad! I want to call Mom and tell about what a great day we had.”
After hanging up, Ron watched me drive for a few minutes before asking, “Dad, can we come back next week with some cameras?”
What a fishing lesson!
“Mom, please, please don’t make me go with you. You know I hate fishing and your stupid great outdoors. I hate the smell of campfires; nasty mosquitoes bites, creepy ants, and sunburns, but most of all I hate the smell of fish. If you want to torture me why don’t you tie me up and make me watch our home videos of our last adventure? Why can’t you be like other mothers and just take me shopping for the day?”
“Well Sweetheart you know I have never been like other mothers, and I doubt that I will ever end up in the mall shopping on a bright summer day. Today my dear son, I am going to teach you the truth about how I catch those big trophy fish that hang on our wall. First, you need to promise never to tell anyone our secret. Come on just follow me, and do what I do.”
Slowly, we crept to the edge of the river where a big old brown-trout laid in the shallows. I smoothly reach under him and softly began tickling his tummy. When he was very relaxed, I gently closed my hand around him and quickly threw him into the grass.
“That my son is how you tickle a fish.”
“Mom,I swear you are the craziest person I know. Who ever heard of tickling a fish? That was so cool. Do you think I could try it now?”
Shane stared out the window of the car while the trees whizzed by. Flashes of sunlight crossed his face followed by dark shadows that reflected his true mood.
His day had been wasted. I knew that. But mine would be treasured forever. My son had finally committed to a fishing trip with his father instead his daily skateboarding session with his friends. Just knowing that he’d agreed to go with me was enough to make me happy. I just wished that we could have at least caught one fish. Or that he would have opened up to me.
But, I wasn’t giving up so easily. I turned the SUV onto a winding dirt road that led us toward the top of the mountain and a secret lake, much to Shane’s obvious displeasure. But when we stood staring at the shining water that slithered with silvery fish, we beamed at each other.
We cast our lines and reeled in enough fish for a meal and then some. But what I caught that day was Shane’s sense of humor, his pride in the skills that he had amassed as a skateboarder and the inner fear that he harbored about talking to girls.
I met my son on top of that mountain, just below the sky and just above the world. And this is what I learned: Tell someone that you love them and your words are cherished for a lifetime. Show them and your actions will proliferate in their hearts for eternity.
The back of the station wagon was again empty of our rods, tackle, and everything else. Except the cooler, which I sat down next to on the gate. I flicked the lid open and took out a cold beer.
I let out a big sigh after hearing the welcoming crack as I opened the can and took my first long swig from the can.
"At least the fish were biting here," I thought to myself. "Hell, they're almost jumping out of the water."
I did think all the fish thrashing and jumping about was a little odd, but what the hell? At least my son was going to catch his first fish.
"You umm better look at what I caught."
"You got a bite already? Way cool, kid!"
"Dad, can you come here?"
There was a strange quaver to his voice that made me put down my beer and go around to the front of the wagon. I stopped and stared.
“Son, what the hell is that?”
“I think it’s a plesiosaur, Dad.”
A long neck craned off of a half-submerged body that was about the size of a large St. Bernard. The creature had a gray-green slick skin. Two remarkably evocative eyes stared at them from a head slightly a-tilt. I could see my son’s fishing line dangling from the long snout.
My son looked up at me expectantly. “Can we keep him, Dad?”
I told him wistfully, “Well, it is your first catch, son…”
Brhin jumped up and down excitedly.
“I knew we were at the wrong place, Mom. It just didn’t seem right. Every time I came here with dad we would catch so many fish. Now, we know.”
I smiled at the joyful look plastered where depression had once been.
“Yeah, now we know your mom can’t follow a GPS.”
“That’s okay, Mom” Brhin pulled the poles back out and practically ran to the edge of the lake. “Dad used to always say you would get lost in a Ziploc baggie.” He laughed. “I believe him, here we were right in the next field and we didn’t see over here. I miss him. Too bad he’s not the one teaching you on your first fishing trip."
“I miss him, too. At least he left me with the best person he could have ever trained.” Clicking off Facebook, I stuffed my cell into my pocket and followed my son.
I had every opportunity to tell Damon that I had only months to live. I wanted this time together to tell him what was going to happen to me. However, I couldn’t get up the courage or gather the right words.
We fished, but nothing was biting except the mosquitoes. He couldn’t look at me while we were in the boat, and I sensed he was troubled about something.
He lost his mother suddenly last year. The counselor shared his observations about his needing to grieve, but Damon hadn’t.
Heading home, I pulled the car into a scenic spot overlooking the lake. The setting sun’s reflection reminded me of my fate.
Damon broke the silence, “Dad…”
“I’m sorry I’ve been spending all my time with my friends.”
“Do you miss Mom?” He was staring at the lake.
“Yes I do…very much.” My voice was shaky. “Do you?”
He started crying.
“Are you okay?” He opened the door and rushed toward the lake.
I watched him unable to move. I gave us both a few minutes and then headed to be with him.
He pointed at the circles on the lake surface. “The fish are jumping at Mayflies. Can we do some more fishing?”
“Sure. I’m surprised you want to do more.”
He turned with tears running down his face. “Dad, please don’t be mad at me—I read the letter from the doctor’s office.”
He rushed into my arms. “I miss her…I’m so sorry about you.”
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