I follow Troy to the lake, just like every week. First, Troy and Mindy read the paper, then Troy says, “Come on, girl” and we go. Troy gets the box from the garage, the sweet smelling one with the hooks and doodads. He pulls the pole from the wall. The lake isn’t far, just on the other side of the yard, behind the pines Troy planted last summer to break the wind.
When we get there, Troy pulls a hook from the box. I lay in the grass and watch him. If it’s warm, I lay in the shade. If it’s cool, I lay in the sun. We just finished the cool time, the damp grass, way down in the earth time. Things are drier now. The sun has more presence, so I lay in the shade. Troy does something magic with his hands and the hook hangs from the string. It’s a shiny hook with a big feathery thing wrapped around it.
Once it’s on, Troy pats my head. I lean into it. His touch is firm and comforting, like my old blanket in front of the window doors when it snows.
“What do you think, girl? Are we going to get lucky?” he asks.
I like to stare at him. I like how he looks, the way he smells, like the sweet stuff from the box and his happy excitement. His voice resonates in my ears, not too high or too low, but just him.
He stands up from his crouch and arcs back an arm, the pole bending behind him with it. A string streams out with a whir, then the hook plops. Troy waits, then reels it in with a tick-tick-tick.
The grass feels good. It’s quiet this time of day, only Troy and I and the ducks with their babies. The houses around the shore are quiet, but for the black car pulling out of the driveway just across the lake. It’s a small lake, new, made just last summer. The men with the machines built it when they built the new houses. Troy says it’s just for show, but they put fish in it, big ones that glub at the surface. I can see in the houses across the way.
Troy arcs his arm back, sends the hook out again. “We should get a nibble soon, girl,” he tells me with a smile.
Just then Mindy leans out the window. “Troy? I’m leaving for class!”
Troy raises a hand and waves. Mindy disappears. A minute later, I hear the garage door open and her car back out. I roll over on my back, expose my belly, and wait. It’s just Troy and me now. I know what’s coming.
Just like always, the thing in his pocket sings.
Troy reels the line in quick and puts the pole on the grass. He pulls the thing from his pocket and looks at it. He presses something, then puts it to his ear.
He turns his back to me. He always turns his back to me. I don’t mind. I wait. It will be worth it.
The duck family approaches, the mother closest to the shore. The father swims a body length ahead, the ducklings trailing behind. There are only four now. I wonder what happened to the fifth. Maybe that fish got it, the trophy one Troy says nibbles his line.
“Yeah, she just left. Let me put this stuff away. Say, five minutes?” He listens to the thing a minute, then says, his voice growly, “Yeah, me, too.” Then he presses something and puts the thing back in his pocket.
He looks out at the lake, toward the house with the black car. Something moves behind the window. Troy watches, his hands still in his pockets.
He takes the hook off the line and puts it back in the box. Before he clips the box shut, he notices me.
“Sorry, girl,” he says. “I’ve got bigger fish to fry today.”
My tongue lolls out and flops against the grass. I look up at Troy and the white puff clouds and the sky behind him. He smiles down at me, then bends over and rubs my belly. He’s my everything. This is our moment.
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