I wrote this last night and fell asleep before I could post it. Apologies. I will be posting the prologue to my book project later. I’m not 100% happy with it but I doubt me pouring over it will change much.
There’s a man at the end of the pier. He fishes every day from dawn to dusk. I’ve never been up early enough to see him unpack but as the sun sets each evening he reels his line in, folds up his pole, and packs everything neatly into his tackle box. He walks down the pier, takes off his shoes, and walks barefoot in the surf until he disappears down the beach – into darkness or distance, I don’t know.
Once in order to quell my curiosity I asked him why he never seemed to catch any fish. He just continued staring into the distance. I figured he was just rude or deaf and went on my way.
One cold afternoon when returning from a party I noticed the man out there, as usual, without a jacket. It was at least another 45 minutes until sunset and I found myself worrying about his well being.
I grabbed an old jacket of mine from the hook and walked out onto the pier. I wouldn’t need to speak. I would just drape the jacket over his shoulders and that would be it.
When I approached him he was as stoic as ever. The man might as well have been a statue. I draped the coat over his shoulders and turned to walk back home.
– Thank you.
He wouldn’t be able to hear me but I still said, “You’re welcome.”
– Stay a while?
I still wasn’t sure if he could hear me but agreed to stay nonetheless. I took a seat on the bench behind him but he didn’t utter another word.
The sun began to set after too long and slowly the man began to reel his line in.
– Thank you for staying.
– No problem.
– It gets lonely out here.
– Why do you –
But he cut me off.
– It’s the only way I can talk to my wife.
I didn’t have anything to say to that. It was clear though that he would continue talking regardless of my input.
– I lost her years ago in a boating accident. I figure this is the only way she can hear me.
– She loved the water.
Just then the end of the line came out of the water, no hook attached to the end. He finished reeling the line in. He didn’t seem to notice the hook was missing.
– Uh, sir. Your hook fell off.
– Never had one.
I felt a chill run through my body.
– But. How. How do you expect to catch any fish?
– I don’t. But imagine if I did. Then I’d know she heard me.
As he finished speaking he closed his tackle box, nothing but the pole inside, and took off my jacket.
– Thanks again.
And then he walked to the end of the pier, took off his shoes, and walked in the surf until he disappeared into the distance.