An Oasis Of Calm
Solitude has a voice, and that voice is replenishment for the soul, invigorating hearts and minds, setting spirits free.
I head for the stream, with a tackle box and a fishing pole, a few worms in an old margarine container and a lunch. It’s quiet, save for birdsong and the gurgle of the crystal waters as they pass over the river stones lining the bottom.
Concrete and steel are flushed away by the joy of the sounds surrounding me, and with just a tiny regret, I bait hook and let fly a cast that takes my line to the center, the deepest hole in this part of the stream. We are old friends, this shallow brook and I — I’ve been coming here since I was a girl, bicycle basket packed the same way as the car is now. Then it was to escape the constant fights, the misery of parents on the verge of divorce, now it’s to escape my own battles, most of which are history repeating itself.
Like any good woman, I’ve done everything in my power to provide a decent home, a loving environment where my man could relax, put his feet up, have a friend over, but it’s never enough. The friends always have to come in groups, with a case or two of beer and some form of dope, whether it’s the somewhat harmless marijuana or something worse. And they stay for hours, playing loud music, making raunchy comments, and basically acting like our home is a bachelor pad.
I can’t stand the smell of marijuana but I put up with it because it’s my husband’s home too — you’d think he would at least go outdoors to toke up, but after a few beers, he doesn’t care about anything but impressing his loud, obnoxious buddies.They were around long before I came on the scene, and will no doubt be around long after I leave, and leave I will if something doesn’t change.
We haven’t been married long, only a few months, but I didn’t realize marrying Mark meant marrying all of his friends. Our scantily furnished, one-bedroom apartment is seldom just ours — his friends sleeping over, feet hanging off the end of our cheap sofa when they’ve indulged in too much booze, too many drugs.The honeymoon lasted all of a week before the gang started arriving regularly.
When they aren’t there, we argue. We argue about money, because there isn’t enough to pay the bills, and he buys drugs and booze like he owns stock in them and doesn’t need to work. We argue about the mess I’m left with after his friends leave and he passes out from too much partying, but mostly we argue about my breaking heart. He doesn’t know it. I suspect he thinks he just married a nag, not the fun girl he thought I was — but I can’t be that girl anymore because somebody has to pay the bills, somebody has to clean up the mess and somebody has to be able to drive him to the hospital when he racks up his bike on one of his doped-up jaunts. I guess what I’m really saying is, I didn’t know he was so irresponsible.
There’s a tiny tug on my line. I quickly and gently set the hook, but it’s too late, the fish is gone. They are quick and soft-mouthed, those brook trout. If you’re not paying attention, they’re off the hook faster than they were on it. I reel in and put another worm on the hook. Tossing the line out again, I settle on the grassy bank. Soon I’ll have to pack up and head back to the city. I’m on duty in another couple of hours, and I need time to prepare for work.
But the quiet of the place has relieved my soul, the cheerful chirping of the finches and jays have sent music to my weary heart. I can face another day with him, try again.
A tiny tear seeps from the corner of one eye, and I watch as the bobber sinks once more.
There’s no escaping me this time, because there’s weight behind the bite. Got him! He puts up a struggle, but I reel in a beauty, must be a two-pounder by the look of him. He’s gorgeous, the opalescence of his scales like the finest jewel.
The sweetness of the forest smells and sounds mock me as I place the beautiful brook trout in the wicker basket I brought for the purpose. I watch as he flips and flops around, gasping, trying to breathe in a foreign atmosphere, struggling in desperation to stay alive.
I know just how he feels. I sort through the tackle box until I find the fishing knife. Donning the special glove I bought a while back, designed for holding squirming fish, I bid him a silent goodbye. With one quick plunge of the sharp blade into his skull, just behind the eyes, I deliver the mercy I can never find anywhere but here.
I pack up and head back to the car, leaving behind the only peace in my life.
Maybe tomorrow will be different, I think, opening the Mustang’s trunk and placing the fishing gear and trout inside.
A cloud of gloom begins to settle on my shoulders almost as soon as I slide behind the wheel.
Yes, and maybe tomorrow brook trout will breathe air.