God’s hose must have it’s nozzle screwed way down; the rain had become intermittent showers, like He moved his arm back and forth putting on the final touches after watering the world. Standing in the doorway at the top of the steps that led off her front porch, Mary watched drops drip down from the edge of the roof…like a slowly dying waterfall. With her new fishing pole tight in her grip, she waited. Mommy said she couldn’t go out till the rain was all done.
Finally, a rainbow appeared, out of nowhere, in the east…without a sound. She looked up with a smile. God had turned off his hose.
The steps were big, too big for a little girl. She turned sideways and gingerly stepped down pulling her knee up almost as high as her waist--once…twice…and she was down. The grass tickled her bare feet as beads of water rolled across her toes.
There, in the flower bed…a worm! Daddy said fish eat worms. Yuck! It squirmed and wriggled in her hand. She tightened her fingers around it, then opened them. It tickled! Slithering right and left, it dug down between her fingers. Ugh! It left this gooey stuff on her palm. Carefully laying the worm on a rock at the edge of the garden, Mary wiped her hand on her new blue bib overalls.
The worm twisted and turned…like it was trying to burrow into the rock. She poked it, and its back looped up and rubbed her finger. Cats did that, but they were a whole lot nicer to feel. Crouching down, she pulled her face up close to get a good look at the worm. Dirt still stuck to it in places. Ever so slowly, she pinched it between her thumb and forefinger until she could pick it up. She stood back on the lawn with the end of the fishing line in her other hand.
The hook was little. She wound the worm around the metal and the line, but it wouldn’t stay where she put it. Like it didn’t want to be on the hook, it moved all kinds of ways and fell back to the grass, wriggling down to the earth and freedom. Mary pulled it back up. How did Daddy keep it on? He would be so excited when she caught the fish. But she needed the worm.
She walked around the two small pine trees, not much taller than her. Overhead, a green elm canopy still dripped raindrops around her. Mary stepped across the grey stone path that followed the water. When adults walked along the path, they disappeared, going someplace…Mary didn’t know where. Mommy and Daddy let her cross the path, but she couldn’t follow it like the old people. She just turned four. They told her that was old…but not old enough to go on adventures that might await wherever the path went.
Clouds filled the eastern sky; but, in the west, blue sky backed the trees, homes, and far off mountains. The water was just ahead. Kneeling down, she looked left and right. Daddy told her a fisherman needed to sneak up on the fish. She carefully inched her way toward the water, watching for fish. Daddy said, if she saw the fish, they would see her and that would scare them. Why? She didn’t think she looked all that scary. Anyway, all she saw was the water. But he said sometimes they jumped. They don’t have legs…how do they jump? She liked playing in the water. Jumping up and down, watching it splash away from her feet, always felt good. But her parents didn’t like her doing that. Why didn’t they try it? If a fish did jump, it would see her. She hoped they didn’t jump.
Mary opened her hand. The worm wasn’t moving as fast as it did before. It hung limp over the hook. Then it slowly shrunk and stretched, falling to the ground. Daddy said it was bait. She needed to get the fish to eat it. Maybe…she tossed it toward the water, noting the ripples where it landed. Stretching out her pole, she dropped the hook right where the worm entered the water. This might be just as good.
When her pole lowered, the line went limp. She pulled it up. No fish yet. Were they looking at the bait? Did it look good? Were they nibbling at it? She surely didn’t want to eat it. Shifting her weight back and forth, Mary focused on where the line entered the water. Maybe a fish was ready to eat the hook. Daddy always said he had to wait for the fish. She didn’t like waiting. A car drove by, but Mary ignored it. The fish could bite at any moment. Bringing her feet underneath her, she moved into a crouching position and sidled just a bit closer for a better view. Good, she didn’t see any fish.
She stared, waiting…waiting…
“Mary, what are you doing?”
Mommy should be quiet. She’ll scare the fish.
“Get away from the curb before a car splashes you!”
“Shhh, Mommy! I’m fishing.”