A Can of Coke

“Grand-Dad and I were thinking that you all could take a drive down to the pond this afternoon and do the fishing you’ve been talking about,” she said. She spoke slowly, taking her time to mold all the creases out of each syllable. “I could put what you catch on the stove for a short while, and we can have that for supper.”

I nodded. “I can be ready in half an hour.” I’d started fishing when I was thirteen: my dad had forced the entire family to get fishing licenses after we’d begun refusing to leave the house, too busy melting our brains in front of the television. He’d wanted us to have the country-boy childhood he’d cherished; fishing at the local park, complete with a man-made reservoir that, each spring, was stocked with factory-raised fish, would have to suffice.

But relaxing at the edge of a pond in the middle of acres upon acres of prairie—I’d volunteer to do it every weekend. I closed my eyes and imagined the sound of mosquitoes buzzing around the reeds, the tug of a frightened catfish swimming away from the shore with my hook in its mouth, doing nothing but driving the thing deeper into its cheek.

I hoped the cattle would be milling around the pond, clumping in the shade of the sycamore trees. I liked watching the arc of their flicking tails, the way they swatted at the bugs and that dared disturb their peaceful existence. I admired the way they moseyed, ignoring the prodding of my grand-dad or the bleating car horns on the country road. They just rolled their eyes and kept on chewing, or standing, or lying. Always content.

I leaned back in my fold-up lawn chair that afternoon and dug my heels in the mud. There was a can of Coke on my lap, a fishing pole between my knees, and a book on my lap.

“You tell me when you get hungry, and I’ll get the sandwiches your grandmother made from the truck,” my grand-dad said. I looked at the clouds, pulling them apart like cotton candy in my mind, and vowed not to move for anything less than a strong bass.

Published at Goon and Darling Do Flash Fiction on June 15, 2012.

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