Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Gone Fishing (02/01/07)
- TITLE: Changing Tide
By Kenneth Bridge
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The day had dawned bright and sunny, now a gentle breeze pushed rustling papers ahead of me along the cobblestone street. I hurried after them until my eye lost their track in the brilliant blaze of morning sun at the water’s edge.
“I used to notice days like this”, I found myself thinking. “I mean really pay attention, revel in it, savor the salt tang from the estuary and thrill to the music of gulls and splashing water.”
Now, I find it tiresome, the light hurts my eyes, the sounds are grating and staccato where once I thought them melodic. The early summer days I once thought would stretch out forever with the promise of bold adventure now mock me, faded postcards from my foolish youth, so out of style they make you groan.
“Where did he go?” I grumbled morosely, shaking off the momentary irresponsible lifting of my spirits. “Ever since his mom got sick, he’s always sneaking off to some idle pleasure. He’s twelve now and I need him at the store. The doctor’s bills don’t take days off to frolic in the sun.”
The sound of gentle splashing as the waters of the bay lapped against the pier at the bottom of the street first muffled the soft sounds of his sobbing. Then I saw him, sitting in our little row boat, the one we used to take out on the water and watch the problems of our shore bound life grow as small as the homes of the distant village overlooking the water’s edge.
How long had it been since we did that? Nearly a year since that dreadful day at the doctors. A dark, harrowing blur of a year of hospital rooms and sickness smells and sympathetic strangers mouthing meaningless platitudes and an icy hand squeezing my chest until I thought it would burst. And wished it would so I wouldn’t have to endure the curse of watching them lower her into the ground and sit alone and silent with our boy but without her.
The boat was rocking against the waves, convulsed with his frail form rocking in the bow. He jumped when I touched his shoulder, stared uncomprehendingly for a minute, then flung his arms around me like he hadn’t since he was a toddler. I reached around him and held him close for a moment, my quiet tears mixing with his violent sobs.
The breeze freshened and I heard the snapping of pennants on a sailboat tied to the other side of the pier. I let go of my son and reached into the boat to pick something up.
“What is that, Dad?” he asked me, the mellow tones of a voice just coming near to manhood pleasing my ear while piercing my heart.
“A sign,” I replied. Come help me hang it on the shop door. “Were going out on the water today. When customers come calling today they’ll see that we’ve ‘Gone Fishing.’”
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