(This is installment number four of a continuing story that I have been posting day by day. Maybe you’ve already read the other three parts, but, if not, just back up on the blog and then read forward. I think the first installment was posted on April 28.)
The path went on ahead of him, but when he reached the spot he knew, he turned off the path and entered a thicket of mountain laurel, going to his hands and knees to worm his way through the twisting trunks and branches. He knew the way of passage from his boyhood days and found even now that he could push through, dragging his rod behind him.
For the path, if he had remained on it, would have taken him to the river as well, but to a spot that anyone could get to. The laurel wall he was now negotiating protected a beautiful, blue waterhole fed by a long slick of rocky stream that agitated the water and filled it with oxygen. Almost no one these days knew about this hole and even fewer had the will or ability to get there.
And when he at last came through the laurel he looked on the river and the mist rising off of the blue water and remembered one of the reasons he loved this place. It never failed. Everytime he passed through the laurel wall and beheld this place, it looked different. Everytime he saw it again, he saw it anew.
He unhooked the fly from the clip above the handle of the rod and waded into the hole, far enough to allow a backcast, and he whipped the rod forward to sixty degrees and watched the line curl away and the fly descend onto the clear blue surface of the pool. He did not move, but let the current take the bait into an eddy below a huge sandstone boulder and there, as he had expected, a fish took it under with a slurping sound and he lifted the rod and set the hook and carefully worked the shuddering fish from behind the boulder and through the water between and brought the fish to his net and removed the fly from its wet mouth and held the intricately marked creature to the sunlight and then laid it back into the water and gently rocked it until it had filled its gills again and jerked away and disappeared.
What had impressed him about Megan Morris? Well, there were a lot of things. She was no Helen Hartfield, but then again, who was? He knew by now that looks was not the only thing, but he remained convinced that physical attraction was essential – the only starting point – and that everything else that was necessary – and there were many other things – would have to be added on from there. He had tried it with one girl who had everything but looks and would never try that again. It was the cruelest and most unjust thing he had ever done, at least in terms of relationships.
Megan Morris had looks. Neat and trim and willowy. Hair golden brown. Plenty of everything to think about, and he did think about her often enough – like fifty times a day – and he knew that the physical attraction part of things was okay, that that box could be confidently checked.