Its shadows reflect the absence of water.
The last time they took it out was…what?
He’d taken her fishing on her birthday. She had resisted long enough. Grandpa stocked his pond with trout, some carp. One could baptize them, their numbers were so few.
Squeezing her eyes shut, she baited the hook. And still heard the worm scream behind her eyes.
Not much was said.
Your jump shot is coming along.
Jen never passes me the ball.
It will come. Just keep plugging away.
Once, their silk lines tangled like a morning spider web. The accidental contact embarrassed her, and she fiddled with the reel.
Her pretending not to notice the skin cancer on his ear.
His eyes avoiding new breasts, arrived at that year.
Their boat a tiny island. Unshared.
Swollen with the insects’ persistent plea, she almost confessed that she didn’t care about jump shots. Basketball.
They floated in a blue haze, until she snagged a decent trout. He helped her bring it in, anticipation stretching the old rope of his muscles.
But that surprised mouth, and dumb stare. Instinct unleashed a squeal, as she tossed the slippery thing into the air.
The splash of adrenaline hooking her giddy side. The imagination.
Look at the little sucker go! Let’s call him Don Quixote, Grandpa—
But his gaze sagged to the empty cooler by his feet.
Dragging the boat onto land, and flipping it over, she understood the outing to be a failure. She had hurt him, because of herself.
He climbed the hill with some effort. With her tennis shoes squelched in the muddy bank, she watched him go.
Tears leaked from her eyes.
She called them allergies. All that white pine.
There is a distance that’s longer than years.
But she climbs into the two-seater, anyway.
The fish are still there.