Ice Fishing by Janet Koops

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The trip had been the woman’s idea. To be honest, you weren’t her first choice. But she had booked the trip on a whim and didn’t want to go alone. She did not expect you to come, just as you had not expected her to ask. But there you sit staring into the darkness at your feet. You both lean forward with cautious optimism – nothing happens. You lean back, sigh, light up. Accustomed to silence and smoke filling the space between you, she sees no need to change things now. Instead, she looks from her fishing line to your hands. These are hands that couldn’t thread a needle, repair a watch, pull out a sliver, change a diaper. Hands that excelled in gross motor movements. Warm from constant activity. She remembers her tiny child hand in yours; imagined it a bear paw. Perhaps it explains her lack of surprise when you left them to work up north. She knew the forest was calling you home. By mid-morning, you chip at the hole, preventing new ice from forming. Grabbing your hand, she wants to say, I can’t forgive you for leaving. She wants to say, I’m sorry I never read your letters. Instead she says, Dad, remember that time you fell in helping me with that trout? You do. And you laugh together. Your two solitudes exhaled into visible shapes,

floating, 

merging,

disappearing.

 

Originally from Toronto, Janet Koops now calls Bend, Oregon home. She enjoys the challenge of short fiction and her writing can be found in Blink InkCamroc Press Review and One Forty Fiction. When she is not sitting at her computer, she is exploring the high desert with her husky.

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