The heat radiated from the sun causing the back of my shirt to become soaked with sweat as I stood outside watching the loading. Uncle Darren, Dad, Grandpa, and my brother John collected their fishing gear and made last minute adjustments to insure the hooking of a large fish. Mom, Grandma and Aunt Kay stood talking as they, too, watched the preparations. The annual fishing trip to officially start the summer off was in its beginning stages on that hot Monday afternoon in June. John had recently turned eleven, which won him a place in the boat formally declaring him a man in our family's small society. We were twins and I, too, had also turned eleven; however, I was not allowed to board the sacred boat for fear that bad luck would be casted over the first day of the fishing season. Being a girl, I would have to spend yet another year in the company of the other ladies who wouldn't be going-Mom, Grandma, and Aunt Kay.
Cousin Bill drove up in his black truck with massive wheels that towered over me. As he stepped out of the truck the brilliant colors of his Hawaiian print shirt caught the sun's rays and threw them into my eyes, blinding me. He laughed at Dad's joke as he ruffled Adam's hair and kissed Grandma on the cheek. "Brother Daniels! How you doing?" he greeted Grandpa who happened to pastor the congregation of First Assembly Church in our small town of Sinota. He popped open the top of a can of root beer, downed it, and added the now empty can to the small stack of previously drunk root beers on Aunt Kay's front porch. He began to unload his fishing gear and reload it in the various compartments of Uncle Darren's boat. "Christy, watch Adam while we go inside," said Aunt Kay as she handed the small tyke's sweaty hand to me. He and I continued to watch the fishermen-and John-load the boat to its full capacity.
Cousin Bill drove the truck out of the drive and backed up to the boat paying no attention to the shouts of Grandpa but, rather, watching the hand signals of Uncle Darren and Dad. Adam started fussing when I would not let go of his hand so he could play with the rods and reels. Uncle Darren picked him up, kissed him on the forehead, and said," Why don't you and Christy go inside in play." He handed Adam back to me and I unwillingly trudged up the porch steps to Aunt Kay's house.
High-pitched laughter greeted me when I opened the door of the small brick house and the noise quickly led me to the kitchen table where they were all sitting. "Oh hi Christy, " Grandma greeted me, wiping tears from her eyes. "Why don't you go play with Adam in his room? Maybe you could get him to sleep," Aunt Kay said as they all burst into another round of shrill laughter that sounded like the cackling witches I had seen on television the night before. Disregarded once again, I led Adam to his room and dejectedly began to play a game of peek-a-boo. He looked at me out of his twinkling, pale blue eyes and yawned loudly. I rocked him in the chair until his eyelids dropped to an unmoving state and his breathing became deep and steady. Soundlessly I closed the door after I placed him in his crib and made my way out to the group of fishermen once more. The cackles followed me out the door as I passed the empty root beer cans slowly accumulating in a small pile on the front porch and made my way to the boat.
Loading had ceased and I walked in on the ceremonious tellings of their past fishing experiences which were being retold for the millionth time. However, I had never heard the tales so I listened with open ears and wide eyes as I joined the fishermen unnoticed. "…that sucker was as long as my arm," Grandpa exclaimed with wild gesticulations and vivid details as he told about his first big catch when he, too, was eleven. Dad, Uncle Darren, and Cousin Bill were paralyzed with laughter as Grandpa told his story though they had heard it every summer for years. Uncle Darren caught sight of me as he stood up from the doubled-over position the laughing had put him in and motioned towards my presence. "Look who once again joined our group," he said to the rest of them as they all turned towards me. "Well, child," Grandpa started as Dad picked me up and put me on his shoulders, "what is it about us men that fascinates you so?" I shrugged my shoulders as Dad asked, "You don't want to join us, do you girlie?" I nodded my head eagerly while chuckles circled throughout the group of fishermen. "Maybe next year," Cousin Bill replied cheerfully, finishing his can of root beer and setting it down with the others. Dad put me back on the ground and told me to "run back inside and see what the women were up too," and so, with no other available option, I did. I opened Aunt Kay's front door and-with one last look at the group of fishermen and John each opening a new can of root beer as Uncle Darren began his story-I went inside.
That night after the loading had been completed I was stuck in a bed with Dad and Mom on one side and John on the other. I was the only one not in deep sleep so I listened to the heavy breathing sounds of the rest of my family. Once again I wouldn't be able to set off with the other fishermen on their adventure. For the eleventh year of my life I wouldn't be able to see the fish brought into the boat as they were caught until there was no more room left in the chest they were put in. I would have to accompany Mom, Grandma, and Aunt Kay as they discussed upcoming church socials and the various new members. Only this year I would not have John to talk to. My only companion would be Adam, a little boy whose only form of communication was a series of points and grunts. I retold the stories I had recently heard outside in my head. I remembered Cousin Bill saying those three words. I sighed, thinking, maybe next year. With that last thought circling in my mind, I fell into a deep sleep.
Submitted by Copyright © Caitlin Deans (),
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