Several years ago, I attempted to write a novella. It was an amazing experience! I committed to 15 minutes EVERY DAY and just let the creative process flow. Sometimes after 15 minutes of torture, I stopped. Although more often, that time blossomed into a period of creativity. Within six weeks, my 50,000 word novella had reached its first draft. However, I now know that my characters need to be a tad farther from reality, as my brother pointed out that my story was “barely fiction.” So while I have decided not to publish this work, here’s a short story from my first attempt at the novella, “Far From Lothlorien.”
(I have a picture of myself, catching my first fish, yes, a pike, but we are getting ready to move, and all extra items are packed. Instead, I posted a picture of my son, catching a fish many, many years ago in Oregon)
It was in June, just a month after her sixth birthday. She had been given a Zebco 202 fishing pole complete with a matching tackle box. As much as she wanted to go down to the lake and fish by herself, a parent had to go with her. Finally, Dan followed her down to the lake only after Sophie fitted her with a bubble to wear on the boat.
A bubble was a large round piece of Styrofoam which all the Stuart kids had to wear until they learned how to swim. It was a great help in holding a child afloat while learning the task of coordinating arms and legs in the water. The only problem with the bubble was that when it was worn on a child’s back and the child stopped swimming, the flotation device would force the swimmer to float face down in the water. Mary always found this annoying as a child, but Sophie insisted she wear it. When they arrived at the dock, Dan looked at their boat, which actually was a small swimming raft with a motor on it. “Let’s take out the boat! The fishing is better there.”
“Take me where the big fish are, Dad.”
They loaded up the boat and after several attempts of starting the old motor, using the choke, pumping extra gas, and with a few extra hard pulls of the lever, they were slowly motoring across the lake. Dan drove the boat to a place where there were lots of weeds, and the lake floor was covered with leaves and branches. “I think you might have some luck here, Mary.”
Dan had set up Mary’s fishing pole the night before. The boat did not have an anchor, so even though they were starting in the weeds, soon the wind would blow them out farther into the deeper areas of the lake. For her first fishing expedition, Mary was using worms as bait. She stood up on the boat and whipped the pole behind her and cast, almost piercing her father’s right ear in the process. This led to a some yelling and an attempt at a patient lesson on checking if the coast is clear when casting and finding the appropriate angle to avoid contact with family members.
Within an hour, Mary had her first fish on the line. She was so proud and excited as she reeled it in. It was a tiny, 10” pike. Once Dan saw the type of fish it was, he took the pole from Mary and grabbed the fish. “These fish bite, better let me take it off the hook. What do you want to do with it?”
“Let’s have it mounted,” suggested Mary.
With a smile and a shake of his head, Dan said, “Well it’s a little small for that. What I meant was, do you want to keep it or throw it back?”
“Let’s eat it for dinner tonight.” Hoping she would have made another choice, he brought the fish on the boat. Not being much of a fisherman himself yet knowing that pike bite, he decided to kill the fish right away. The boat had old metal railings about it, so Dan started beating the fish on the side of the boat to make sure it was dead and wouldn’t bite his daughter. Once the deed was done, they headed for home.
Sophie was quite surprised when Mary handed her the now tenderized 10” fish, and Dan asked her how she was going to prepare it. Luckily, she had purchased some other fish filets for a future meal, so there would be enough for all. Mary was so proud that she had contributed to the night’s meal.
My father used to take me fishing not only to bond, but teach me patience. For some reason, I would always catch fish – so much for the patience lesson. I loved it.
My dad wasn’t a fisherman by any means, but he loved the solitude that could be found on the lake. I have always been a vocal and lively individual, and fishing was the perfect opportunity for Dad to say, “Listen to the Silence.”