Rene’s Fish


 The post-card scenery at Stockholm Lake was so beautiful, it was more beautiful than anything Rene had seen in a long time, it was incomparably beautiful, almost. The water of the lake was so still that it seemed as though two opposing, yet equally beautiful worlds met at the shoreline. The forest was such a dark green that it appeared to be a wall, towering over the mirror surface of the lake. Lake Stockholm was the only place that Rene felt at home anymore. The lake was surrounded by trees, and although it was miles around, it was dwarfed by the dense and powerful forest, which seemed, to Rene, to act as a silent guardian for this secluded piece of nature. 

Rene’s wife, Ellen, used to fish at the lake every day. He would often make fun of her, saying that her rod was more a carrot and a stick than a fishing rod and that she would follow it wherever it went. She didn’t think he was funny, but that had never discouraged him. The smile that she would eventually surrender to him was so captivating it seemed as though time itself had stopped and the only thing that existed in the world was them, together, in tat moment. Making her smile was all he needed to do in this world, he missed that… his purpose.

Ellen had died 10 years earlier. She was taken by skin cancer, probably from the countless days she spent out on the water in the harsh sunlight. She even requested that her ashes be spread at Stockholm Lake. Rene never properly prepared himself for her to pass, he had always assumed, or hoped, that she would get better. He spent a whole year crying himself to sleep every single night, his arm spread over to the side of the bed where she used to lay, hoping to feel her hand grasp his just one more time. After that year Rene just went numb. It was his way of dealing with the pain.

Rene had found that the lake had a certain romantic magic to it, it was the only place left that he felt her presence still lingered with him somehow. He would lie in his small wooden boat with his eyes closed, drifting, it was so quiet. He would sometimes let his arm dangle over the edge of his boat, his hand, almost rudely, disrupting the perfect mirror of the lake. Small fish would nibble at his fingers, but he never flinched. The contact seemed almost comforting to him. Stockholm Lake was the only place that Rene still felt anything. He chose the crushing agony of heartbreak over the esoteric emptiness that had taken over the rest of his life. Rene had been a great thinker. He used to spend hours a day having conversational and imaginative adventures in his head, but recently even his power over thought had abandoned him. He was empty.

As Rene lifted his hand out of the water, the setting sun his silent alarm clock, he sat up and sighed, wiping a single tear off his tired face. He normally headed straight back to shore, but today he lingered, staring into the black water below him. A sudden flash of blue and white snapped him out of his conscious coma. He was startled. The only fish he had ever seen in the lake were gray or black and much smaller. This fish was almost four feet long and it seemed to shine like a beacon below the surface. He saw it again. It was the most beautiful creature he had laid eyes on in a long time.  The electric blue and shimmering white scales glistened in the fading sunlight. Each glint looked to Rene like a wink. He was captivated by this flirtatious fish. Rene grabbed the rod in the boat. He was desperate to see this fish up close. He gently lowered his hook and crudely attached bait into the water and waited…


Five minutes…

 

 

Ten minutes…

 

 

Half an hour…


Rene had all but resigned himself to defeat when his rods line snapped tight and he almost lost the whole rod. He wondered why he hadn’t. The fish didn’t seem to be struggling but the line was definitely taught. He slowly peered over the edge of the boat, and there, almost showing off for Rene was this beautiful fish. It seemed to be looking at him, beckoning him. It just hovered in the water, perfectly still, resting on the tension of the fishing line. Still gripping the rod Rene slowly lowered his hand down towards the water’s surface. He was being as slow as he could so as not to startle the fish, but the second his fingers broke the water the fish swam off, slipping off the hook like two hands slipping apart.

For just a split-second, Rene felt the same way he did, 10 years earlier, when Ellen was taken away from him. He rested on the edge of the boat, fighting back tears as he thought of her. He began to feel light headed. He opened his eyes and realized his vision had blurred. He tried to stand to get his bearings but in his attempt to do so he drifted out of consciousness. His body fell, crashing into the water.

As he descended towards the bottom of the lake, his eyes slowly and narrowly opened and he felt, for the first time in 10 years, the unmistakable feeling of a smile on his weathered face. He began to cry, with unexplained joy. His tears dissolved in the water. The world above him was fading and as the light danced in the water around him Rene could see clearly. He had begun to feel, and think. It was wonderful. As the last light of day disappeared with the setting sun behind the tree-line, Rene was greeted with one final, comforting image before the water overwhelmed his body. A fish, a beautiful blue and white fish. He smiled, closed his eyes, and disappeared forever into the abyss of the lake. Gone, but not alone.