Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Gone Fishing (02/01/07)
TITLE: What a Friend!
By Donna Haug
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Old Joe parked his pickup in a clearing by the lake and jumped out into the ankle deep snow. Pulling his tuque snuggly over his head and ears, he trudged around to the bed of the truck. In spite of the biting wind, the sun was reflecting off the snow so brightly, he had to squint to see.
“Whenever I get the hankering to come out in this cold weather to fish, you’re just as keen to go. I sure appreciate that!”
He reached into the bed and pulled out his bucket and gear. Joe made his way to his ice-fishing shack. As often as he was able, he loved to sneak away to this quiet place. “I told Ellen I wanted to get out fishin’ again. I think she knows. She gave me that cute smile when she handed me my lunch. I love that smile. I fell in love with her the very first time I saw it. Is it possible we’ve been married 30 years already?”
Joe lifted the wooden latch on the door of his little shack and kicked the snow off his boots as he walked in. It was nothing fancy, just a lean-to really, with nothing to lean into but the wind. But with the plywood walls protecting him, that was all he needed. He pulled his old stool over to the hole. He grabbed his pick from the nail on the wall and broke the hole open again. “That wasn’t too bad. Remember last time when I had to haul out the ice auger. I couldn’t believe how thick it was!”
As he sat down, he pulled out his little fishing rod. He checked the spring bobber and watched it bounce around at the slightest movement. “Oh yeah. Here we go.” He skewered the minnow onto the hook and lowered him down into the water. “You know, I really feel badly for Ellen. Her arthritis is getting so bad now. She doesn’t know that I see when she winces as she works. She won’t admit it, but I know she’s in pain much of the time. You’re a doctor – the best one I know. Could you take away her pain? I hate to see her like this.”
Suddenly the bobber started dancing. Joe nearly jumped as he quickly set the hook and starting pulling the line out of the water. “Woo Hoo! Look at that one fight!” A few minutes later, panting like an old dog, he held up a good-sized perch. “All right! That’s perfect for supper tonight! Isn’t this great?” He gave the fish a whack to tell it to sit still and threw him in the bucket. Joe baited his hook again and lowered it into the hole.
“Tim would love to be here today.” The smile drained off his face as he thought of his son. “We were so proud of him when he entered the army. And now, there he is right in the middle of that terrible war in Afghanistan. I worry about him so much. I hear Ellen crying sometimes at night. I know she worries too. You have connections over there. Can you find someone who could let him know that we love him and that we pray for him every day? Maybe you could make it possible so that he could get back to a safe location where he can be in touch with us again by email. It would be such a comfort to his mother and me.”
Setting his rod on the stand, he pulled out his thermos and poured the steaming coffee into his tin mug. He cupped his hand around the soothing heat, and sighed. Tears trickled unnoticed down his cheeks, following the crevices that time had etched on his face.
Slowly, the hours passed. The lunch box emptied. The last of the coffee dripped out of the thermos. A couple of smaller fish were added to the pile. However, the most important work was done as he talked about his beloved family and friends. He shared their needs and concerns with his friend.
When it was time to go home, Joe walked out of the shack with quite a heavy load of fish, but the burden in his heart was much lighter. “Thanks so much for coming fishing with me today, Lord. I had a great time. Let’s go home! Doesn’t baked perch sound delicious!”
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