By Mike Grifantini
Siskiyou Writers’ Club Short Story
Often, they would do this,
after work and school
Rods, waders and vests waiting by the door
Off to the river, as the sun sank.
The anticipated coolness of the river, after a hot day
and its clarity
Like stepping into glass, moving swiftly,
The warmth of the evening, as the sun painted its last strands on the water,
merging with the chill of the water,
the sun sinking behind the thick foliage of the shoreline trees,
the time they waited for
Other fishers were back in the parking lot, loading up, heading home for dinner,
but father and son had come here for this time.
They watched as fish and insects began their synchronized play
Mayflies rising from the gravel, reaching the water’s surface,
stretching their sail-like wings, buoyantly drifting downstream
delicate, petite, perfect sailboats
Caddisflies, finding the surface, quickly skittering along the river’s skin, lumbering to take flight
Gritting and rough in appearance.
The fish, stalking the insects at or near the surface,
each effort making a unique splash,
each splash telling a story of the insect targeted and the trout’s strategy,
for the patient fisher that watched.
The boy waded out, thigh deep, casting
The father, nearby but downstream
The father watched the son,
admiring the smoothness as the rod and line bent backward, halted, then flowed ahead
Many evening on the river created this art,
line back and forward,
the fly landing softly.
A trout struck sharply at the mayfly presented by the dad, grabbing his attention.
A missed strike, but now, many fish were rising.
Some showed their backs, slurping their meals,
others came partial out of their wetness, targeting a flying morsel.
The trout’s doubts and inhibitions were gone,
now they might be anywhere and everywhere,
there was no need to move from his spot, the fish had come to the fishermen.
The boy waded further upstream, making artful casts toward splashing trout.
He hooked one, it jumped several times, was brought in and released.
Without looking back, the boy continued upstream toward the nearby bend.
The father yelled:
Stay close; it would be best to stay close together
The boy did not hear or, perhaps questioned the value of closeness.
As the evening’s light dimmed, the boy disappeared.
It would have been best to stay together, there in the evening, with the fish rising,
but the boy had other thoughts.
Looking upstream the father thought about the river and the boy and wished that they would always
stay the same, casting to the rising fish in the coolness of the evening.
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