Fisher of Men

Everything was quiet but my mind. I’d been fishing for over 20 years and the moral issue never bothered me. Sticking a hook in the water, making fish think it’s food so they’ll swallow it. Yank them out of their homes by their ripped guts, then throw them back in, scarred, broken.

Now it reminded me too much of my own life.

I came out here to get away. Away from the divorce papers, away from the lawyers, away from her, and him. Solitude. Work would have been better. Less time to think.

The water was flat except for the slow ripples waving from the bottom of my canoe. Everything was silent, even the birds. They flew low, peering into the water. Soon they all left. No more fish, maybe.

A tug at the line. Was I using a bobber? I forgot. Yes, another tug. The bobber was sunk. I fell to instinct, reeling, teasing the line, reeling a bit more. Trying not to think how, with every errant tightening of the slack, that a shiny metal spear was dragging through fishflesh and innards. Reeling. Teasing. Reeling.

And out it came, wagging its tail like a happy pup, dewdrops of saltwater flecking across my face. A shiny green smallmouth, about the size of my forearm. Just hanging, twirling, struggling, the line flashing in the sun, leading down its throat, the hook webbed in guts.

You don’t see pain or fear in a fish’s eyes. How can you pity a fish? By pretending it’s you. You, with the jagged metal in your belly, ripping through, catching on your ribcage. Was it more cruel to throw it back or eat it? Give it a second chance or put it out of its misery?

I wondered. The fish slowed its wag, its hanged-man dance. Everything was quiet. Calm. Even the waters seemed to stop rippling. The insects stopped chittering. The birds stopped calling. Calm.

There was no rain before the flash. Just a spear from on high, down, down through my guts. I never thought of God as a fisherman. A fisher of men.

I might have died. I wasn’t sure. Did I deserve to die? Put out of my misery? Gone in a flash of lightning, food for the fishes. Or did I deserve to live, scarred and changed?

I didn’t know. I didn’t know.




Day 233’s three random writing prompt categories were, “Minimalist,” “The calm before the storm,” and, “Controversy.”

Nothing more to say about this one.

– H.

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