“My phone doesn’t even have a signal.” I hold it up again, for the thirtieth time, thinking things might have changed. “Boring would be an improvement,” I said under my breath. If he heard me, I couldn’t tell and that just pissed me off more. I spoke louder. “This sucks!” I looked over my shoulder at him.
He faced the other way, casting his line in to the water at my back. The whole lake was empty. Nothing could account for the fact that we’d been sitting in a small cramped boat for hours. The only thing our hooks were catching was air and sunlight before plunging below the water. I propped my rod against the side, half hoping it would just fall in and relieve me of the pretense of caring even this little. My right hand plowed in to the cooler, pulling out a bologna and cheese sandwich. He had wanted to prepare the food, and I had let him, and this was my reward. A nasty fake meat sandwich, topped with a slice of fake cheese, pressed between two pieces of white bread that I just knew would stick to the roof of my mouth like clay. I peeled the plastic wrapper and took the first bite. Immediately, the bread did as predicted and I had to scrape it off with my finger. I drained half my water bottle washing the sandwich down.
In that whole ordeal, he hadn’t moved more than what it took to reel the line in and cast out again. My pitiful sighing meant nothing to him.
“Why do you do this? We haven’t caught anything all day. Why can’t we just quit and go home?”
I didn’t think he’d heard me. Without looking at me, he said, “Oh…I don’t know. It ain’t so bad.” His free hand rose to his forehead, moved his hat back about two inches to scratch the spot underneath. His hat stayed that way, canted back, but his hand traveled down to a soda that he’d opened about an hour ago. He took a swallow. I cringed thinking that, by now, it was probably like drinking warm syrup.
I howled in dismay. “Come on! Let’s do something else. Let’s move the boat. Let’s do something!” For the first time since we pushed off the shore, he left his little world. His eyes leveled on me for so long his gaze made me uncomfortable. I couldn’t take it. “What?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “You tell me. You’re the one sitting over there impatient for something to happen. Now I look at you and you don’t know what that’s supposed to be but expect me to get it for you.” He still hadn’t lowered the fishing rod. “So you tell me.”
I was embarrassed but didn’t think I should be. I mumbled, “What are we doing?”
“Well you,” he specified, “are complaining. Here you are, in that moment of peace and solitude that you always say you want cause every one of your days is so full of stress. Here it is and you want something to happen. You want to be entertained. You want action. You want to move around. You have to have excitement. You need that phone of yours to show you some silly pictures cause you can’t go for even one second without something happening. You can’t stand to be inside your own mind!” He stared at me, even harder. “I ain’t fishing to catch fish. I am catching my breath!” He pulled his hat back down. “Why don’t you try that instead of all that moaning and complaining you’ve been doing.”
I turned away from him so he couldn’t see my expressions at all. It took awhile for my ears and face to stop burning in shame but it wasn’t until after they did that I realized that I’d been staring at the water…and my mind had been relaxed.