Monday, November 9, 2009

A Promise is a Promise

Johann checked his bait and cast his line back in. He leaned against the rail of the jetty, looked over the deep, dark water, and sighed. He really did not want to be fishing today. His two boys, Nico and Pete, had blackmailed him at breakfast.

"But Dad, you promised," Nico had said, with tears in his eyes. Nico was the older of the pair. At twelve years old, he didn't cry easily any more. "You said you were going to take us out last Saturday; but then you went to work. Then you promised that you'd take us fishing next Saturday, which is today. A promise is a promise, Dad."

"That's all true," said Johann. "But do you still want to go fishing, after everything that's happened this week?"

The boys nodded in unison: slowly, but firmly.

They had gone to the jetty: their usual spot. The sky was overcast and small drops of rain were beginning to spit down on them. The wind bit through their jackets. The tide was all wrong, and none of them had had so much as a bite after a full hour; but, a promise is a promise.

Johann looked over at the boys. Nico was helping Pete thread a prawn onto his hook; explaining again the finer points to attaching the bait to make it attractive to the fish, whilst ensuring the hook protruded enough so it was able to do its job. Both boys had tears running down their cheeks and were constantly sniffling. They ignored their tears; however, and fished on. Johann smiled slightly, and shook his head again. While Johann watched, Pete cast his line into the water. It was a bad shot, and crossed over Nico's line. Without a word, they swapped places to fix the crossover and kept fishing.

An old man braved the weather and came out to the end of the jetty. His hair, combed over from the edges of his mostly bald head, folded over in the wind and flapped like a loose tarpaulin. With his voice raised against the wind, he asked, "Catch anything?"

"Not a bite," said Johann, shaking his head. He began to wind his line in.

The man turned to leave, one hand holding his comb-over down. He stopped and turned back to Johann. "None of my business, of course," he said, "but why are the two lads crying like that?"

Johann glanced at the boys and then back at the man. "We buried their mother yesterday."

The old man's eyebrows flicked up into his forehead, but he said nothing. Instead, he turned and walked briskly back down the jetty.

Johann checked his bait and cast his line back in.


Angel Zapata said...

You reeled me in. No pun intended.

In truth, very touching. I love stories that make me feel something. This tender tale did.

Erin Cole said...

The world continues to spin, with or without tears. I know this story personally and I think you did a great job portraying the normalcy of everyday activities amidst sorrow of the heart.

Bernard S. Jansen said...

Thanks for the kind comments, guys. This little story is *based* on a family story that has become legend over time.