Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Gone Fishing (02/01/07)
- TITLE: By the Still Waters
By Loren T. Lowery
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“Go on! Scat!” she yelled at the dog. The dog, a golden retriever, bolted and tried to run past her. As he did, the rope wrapped around Sharon’s legs and tripped her, bringing the shelf used to store fishing gear down over them both. Dust billowed, spiders scurried and a rusted tackle box sprung open.
“You stupid mutt,” Sharon shouted. “Look at this mess.” Her bare legs, pinned by the shelving, were holding the dog down. The dog whimpered and with large brown eyes looked up and licked her face.
“Stop it! Your breath stinks.” She pushed the dog away and in doing so, her hand ran across the dog’s protruding ribs. The dog winced as if about to be hit, and Sharon’s shove instantly turned to gentle strokes.
Heaving a sigh, Sharon worked them both from the mess. Once free, she commanded again for the dog to scat. The dog, however, cowered further back into the shadows of the cluttered garage. As he moved, however, things continued to fall behind him.
Sharon squinted and gave a sudden gasp. “Don’t move,” she cried, bending and searching through the spilled contents of the tackle box. Moments later, she held a pair of wire clips and swiftly cut a thin blue filament, tethering the mongrel to a Penn Fishing Spool. The line snapped free, but Sharon could see a fish hook deeply imbedded in the skin of the frightened animal, causing it to bleed.
She called to him and he lowered his head, kneading his way through the ruble on the floor to her side. “Its okay, come on. This happened to me last year when Jeff took me fishing,” she soothed. “It was through my finger and Jeff took the pliers and cut the barb…just like this.” She did it in one quick movement and the dog was free.
The dog cuddled closer and Sharon could feel his rapidly beating heart. Her forehead bent to his, looking him in the eyes. “Okay, I’ll put some alcohol on this; give you some food and then you’re out of here.”
But it didn’t quite work out that way. A weekend later, Penn, as she began calling him, barked and wagged his tale as she was going through the motions of sorting through the last of her husband’s fishing effects in the garage.
Wiping dried tears from her cheek, she glanced over her shoulder to see Penn prancing in the July sun, with the glint of Silver Lake not more than 300 yards behind him.
She stared hard at the water. “You’re right, Penn. I do need a break.” Walking out into the daylight, she called to Penn and then, as one, they made their way down to the lake.
They sat below a spreading oak. This tree, by the lake, was the sole reason Jeff had bought his home here. He’d called the oak his Psalms Tree. She hadn’t understood the name until here, one evening; he shared the 23rd Psalms with her. That one moment of his sharing the Bible and his heart changed her own life forever.
It was here, three years ago Jeff had proposed. It was here beneath its branches they had married. It was here he told her of his plans for college, after serving in the military - a way to secure their future. It was here they had unknowingly said their final goodbyes.
Sharon and Penn sat together, watching the water. No wind stirred, no clouds blocked the sun. A single mallard winged across the lake, its solitary silent flight so poignant across the quiet waters that it stabbed Sharon’s heart, causing her to cry out in pain.
Penn moved closer, wagging his tail, licking her cheek. “He loved this place,” she told her companion. “I loved sharing it with him.” Tears, unchecked began to flow. She reached over and her fingers brushed over the healing scab caused by the barb from the fish hook. She hugged him closer and felt a healing within herself.
The mallard she had seen earlier moved closer, still alone, still silent, flying effortlessly across the still waters, winging peacefully towards them both.
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