He went fishing alone. She watched him push the boat out, climb in, sway in the sudden thrust of a wave, stagger to the end, sit down too hard, pull on the old motor. Three hard pulls before it caught. Engine noise. Big racket.
When the mergansers fishing in the bay fluttered up and away at the sound, she stepped back from the window. Into the little house. The cabin. To do . . . what?
He’d invited her. “Want to go out this morning?” he’d said, she in her pink quilted bathrobe, he in his green turtle neck, flannel shirt, rain jacket under his arm, tackle box at the door, two poles in his hand. “Nice morning out there.”
They’d both looked out at the lake. She had to see what he saw—smooth water, almost a glass-off, three female mergansers fishing in the bay, the sun up, the maple on the shore an explosion of gold.
“Beautiful from the boat,” he had said. “Beautiful to see the cabin from the boat.”
He saw the slight movement of her head, thought he heard no. Her arms hugged her narrow body, her face still turned to the window, turned to the lake, to the newly risen sun, to the brilliant maple, but away from him. “No,” she said in an almost normal voice. Clear this time. Sure.
He had to ask. Thought the roll of the boat would soothe her in a way that he couldn’t. Didn’t seem able to. Didn’t know how to. Nothing right between them, and he didn’t know why.
Didn’t know how to ask.
He swung the boat around parallel to the shore, so he could see the cabin, cut the motor, and dropped the anchor. He baited his hook and cast it high and wide, a beautiful cast. He hoped she saw it. He looked at the cabin, but it was too far to see anything behind the black window. Too far. He strained for a glimpse of pink, of her watching him look for her, but it was too far. Too far.
© 2013 Kathleen Coskran