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Gone Fishing

When Grandad promised he'd take Lucy fishing, he meant it.

By J. L. GreenPublished 2 years ago Updated about a month ago 8 min read
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Gone Fishing
Photo by Lauren Lopes on Unsplash

****Author's Note: This story contains sensitive content, nothing sexual or graphic, but it hits like a punch to the gut at the end.****

The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night, a candle burned in the window. Grandad gently blew out the match and huffed a sigh.

"Dang these old habits," he said, glancing over to the couch.

Lucy was a good girl, quiet. He'd set her on the couch and asked her to stay there while he cleaned up a bit and she'd done just that. Not that she had much energy lately after being sick.

"What old habits?" she asked.

"Oh, the candle. Your Nana was quite superstitious, God rest her soul. She would always light a candle when we got here; said it would ward off evil spirits. Heaven forbid I don't light one now too."

Lucy smiled and watched from the couch as Grandad went about swatting away errant cobwebs and thick layers of dust with wrinkled hands, grumbling all the while.

"We're only here for a few hours, gonna let the sun come up a little more, but we gotta watch out for black widows. Can't believe so many things have moved in since we've been here last."

"It's been a while Grandad," Lucy said.

He couldn't help but smile sadly. "That it has, sweetheart. That it has."

~~~~

Grandad went back and forth from his old truck putting supplies in the bed when he hit a patch of perfect signal and his phone went berserk.

"Good Lord," He muttered and fished it from his pocket. 57 missed calls, some from his daughter Kathleen, some from her husband Beau, a few unknown numbers, and an "emergency announcement".

Silver Alert: Rayford Wilkens, seventy-seven year old male. Last seen driving a silver Ford F150. Call emergency services if found.

"For Heaven's sake."

Kathleen didn't have to make such a fuss, but it didn't surprise him. Not when he's been getting older and "forgetful". He might as well call her back and calm her down a bit while he has service.

The phone rang twice before Kathleen answered with a frantic, "Dad!"

He winced, pulling the phone away from his face. The blasted thing was on speaker and damned if he was going to try fixing it. He'd lost too many calls that way.

"Hello sweetheart."

"Dad, where are you?"

Kathleen was a good girl too, but she had some of her mother's strong-headedness that Lucy didn't inherit. It's why he left without saying anything, because he knew what she'd say. But he'd made a promise and he wasn't about to break it.

"Don't worry honey, I have Lucy and we're just fine."

There was a stark silence from the other end and he checked to see if the call was still connected.

"What?" she asked. Heaven help him, she had tears in her voice.

"I know I should have told you-"

"What do you mean you have Lucy?"

He heaved a sigh and tried to sound apologetic.

"Sweetheart, I'm sorry, I know she's been sick but she said she's feeling better, and I promised I'd take her to the lake."

The other end of the line exploded with Kathleen's fury.

"Have you lost your mind? You can't-!"

He hung up without a word; he wouldn't give her the satisfaction of hearing him mad.

The phone rang again, but he ignored it. Three steps forward and his phone lost service. He turned it off after a moment of indecision, figured he might as well save the battery since there would be service at the lake and he'd rather have a way to call for help if needed.

"Time to get this show on the road."

~~~~

Lucy sleeps a lot now. She'd been on the couch resting and he'd had to carry her to the truck, but she insisted she was fine. Just tired. It was impossible to ignore how thin and frail she'd become though and his heart quaked in despair.

That's what chemo does, Dad.

How Kathleen could let those doctors pump poor Lucy full of chemicals was beyond him; he'd torn her a new one when she told him they were starting chemotherapy. Lucy's only six for God's sake.

Chemo is a nuclear bomb they inject straight into the veins; it wipes out everything, good and bad. Makes people sicker than they were before. He couldn't even bring Lucy flowers when she was in the hospital.

Fresh flowers are a risk for people with compromised immune systems.

No fresh flowers, no fruit, no nothing. She deserved better.

Oh how many times he wished it could have been him in that sick bed while she was going through it, all with a smile. Chemo could take everything else; her appetite, her health, her hair, but it never took that beautiful smile.

He gave a hearty cough to clear the sorrow from his throat and asked, "You hungry, Lu-Belle?"

"No, I'm okay Grandad."

"Alright sweetheart, but tell me if you need something to eat. I've got food in the back."

"Okay...Are you in trouble, Grandad?" she asked.

He startled and turned to see her lying back with her eyes closed. The picture of serenity.

"What makes you ask that?" He asked.

"I heard you and mom fighting."

"I'm sorry, Lu-Belle...your mom's not happy but she'll be fine. I'll take you home after we're done fishing. You remember I promised I'd take you to the lake don't you?"

"I remember."

"Good girl."

~~~~

It was a thirty minute drive from the cabin, but taking the scenic route had always been Lucy's favorite. She was an artsy girl, and her love of the beauty of nature was beautiful in itself.

Now, Cadence Lake wasn't anything big but it was perfect for family outings. The high mountain peaks clashed harmoniously against the blue sky and pure white clouds, making a stunning backdrop while sunlight sparkled across the gentle wind-born waves of the lake.

Unsurprisingly, there was only one other group clear across the way; looked to be three men, two on the shore, and one thigh deep in waders. The lake was just about out of season for swimming as fall creeped in, but was ripe with trout and bass for the lure.

Grandad gave a wave as he got out of the truck. They were too far away to hear a proper, neighborly "hello". He crossed round to the back and dropped the tailgate. An array of gear gleamed up at him and he smiled.

It'd been some two years since he'd last been to the lake. Their last campout as a family before Lucy got sick. His four-year-old firecracker of a granddaughter, all energy and smiles, stared longingly at the water as he and her daddy went out on a little canoe. Kathleen had protested her going, said it was too dangerous for her without a life vest.

Well Kathleen needn't worry this time around, he'd gone ahead and grabbed a pink butterfly patterned vest for Lucy. Now there wouldn't be any excuse, even if she didn't get in the water at all.

He set up a spot with two chairs, an icebox with some sandwiches and drinks in-between. Got their rods set up with fake worms, remembering how Lucy had frowned to the point of tears when she saw the live worm on the end of his hook, and it was like an icepick skewered his heart.

All that was left was for Lucy to take her spot.

"Come on out, sweetheart. I got everything all ready," he called.

When the door didn't open after a few seconds he realized she'd probably need a hand. She's sprightly on her best day but it's been a while since then. Plus the truck is pretty tall.

He opened the door and caught her, hadn't realized she'd been resting against it. But she smiled and he knew she was fine. He grabbed her round the waist; he could damn near wrap his arms around her doubly-so, she's so skinny.

She seemed pleased when he set her in the chair and put a hat on her head; he took a moment to caress the peach fuzz that the chemo had missed. She used to have such pretty long brown hair, but she'd been so brave when it started falling out.

His sweet granddaughter. It's been some years coming, but he finally got to take her fishing.

~~~~

The water was nice; the fish were biting eagerly and they were lucky he wasn't in the mood for a fish fry. He sat and told her stories of his childhood, some scary because she enjoyed that stuff, and some funny because he missed her laughter.

They were ready to call it a day when Lucy got a bite and he helped her reel it in; a young little crappie, half the size of his hand. Poor thing could've been bait it was so small, but it was her first catch and that meant something!

"Here Lu-Belle, hold him up. C'mon now, hold him up. I'll get a picture."

He pulled the phone from his pocket and frowned when the screen stayed black no matter how many times he pressed the darn button. He hoped it hadn't died.

No, there it goes. The screen lit up white and once it came to life, he saw he had 94 missed calls, mostly from Kathleen, a few from her husband Beau, and a few unknowns.

How he'd forgotten his last conversation with Kathleen, he didn't know. Well, maybe he'd forgotten to take his medication that morning. And the morning before. Those pills are supposed to "help him remember"; all they do is make him numb and he needed to be sharp for this trip.

Either way, he wasn't going to dwell, not on such a nice day.

He turned to Lucy and said, "Alright sweetheart, smile big."

She's so thin, so fragile (skeletal) and she hasn't moved to hold up her prized catch; it flopped harshly by her feet. There's a soft smile in sight and her eyes are closed, but she hasn't even wiggled since he sat her down. Had she always been so pale?

Kathleen's picture popped up as she called before he could snap the shot. He groaned, softly as to not upset Lucy, and put the phone to his ear. There was static from the line from spotty service, but he could hear well enough.

"I told you we're okay, honey."

"Dad." She'd been sobbing heavily from the sound of it. His heart twisted in his chest with guilt. "How could you do this? Bring Lucy back."

"We're done fishing, Kath, I just need to pack up. And just so you know, we had a great time."

A harsh sob crackled through the line.

"She's dead, Dad. Lucy died a week ago. You have to bring her body back."

Horror
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About the Creator

J. L. Green

I've been writing for fun since I was a preteen and haven’t stopped since. I tend to favor the darker/angsty/thriller type of themes. Here’s to hoping readers enjoy my work, and those that don't find something they do.

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Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  • Tom Green2 years ago

    I might have ended with: “Dad, I’m coming to join you, tell Lucy I love her”. Kath turned to her husband and said, “Let’s go get my dad and our poor dead Lucy”

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