The Waiting Game
On the edge of a small town near the edge of a big lake, there lived a fisherman. He lived alone in a small brick house on a big grassy plot of land. Every morning at 3am, his alarm would ring and his day would begin. His routine was as follows: Brush teeth, change clothes, pack breakfast and lunch, look for where ever he threw his small brimmed hat the night before, and head out to the dock where he parked Angela.
Like clockwork, the fisherman would leave his house and take off onto the misty lake. He liked the eeriness of the gurgling water which broke the otherwise silent mornings. This morning, like all others, the fisherman had plopped his float into the water and wedged the rod between his knees while he ate his breakfast. He had just take a bite of his sweet porridge when his reel set off. He grabbed hold of his fishing reel and used all his might to rotate it towards him.
"Ouch!" Someone yelled, "Stop!"
His mouth flew ajar. There was someone out here. Someone on this lake... The Fisherman looked around. "Hello," his voice quivered, "Is someone there?"
"Your hook got me." The voice cried out, "Let your line free."
The fisherman did as was asked. He was not an unkind man. He heard a splash and then his boat started to rock. He looked over the ledge and saw her. The woman was tan with dark hair that floated in the water around her. She had fine features -- distinguished cheeks, soft jaw, and glorious brown eyes that turned golden in the sun.
"Are you going to help me up?" She asked impatiently.
"Oh..." The Fisherman put his hand out and pulled the woman into his boat. Then he saw it: The rainbow of colors, slick scales that shone beautifully. This woman was a mermaid... and this mermaid was hurt. He could see where the hook had snagged her: right on the bottom fin and it had pulled straight through. She was bleeding.
"I'm so sorry," The fisherman started. "I never meant to hurt you." He dug around his lunch box for some paper towels to clean up the blood.
The mermaid touched her aching tail gently and winced. She looked up at the fisherman and squinted. After some time she spoke. "I know you..."
The fisherman looked confused.
"Yes, you're out here every day on this boat but always a different spot." She smiled, "I see you do the most peculiar thing. You catch a fish -- a big beautiful one that could feed a whole household and you look at it. You survey it's every inch and when you've finished you toss it back." She rested her elbow on the ledge, "Why is that?"
The Fisherman put his hat on the bench and smoothed down his hair. "Well," he started, "I'm looking for the right fish... a special fish."
"Oh," said the Mermaid. "I've seen many fish, maybe I can help. What does your fish look like?"
"I'm not sure..." said quickly. His eyes were focused on the hat in his hand. He twisted it as he spoke. "I'll know when I catch it."
"What if you never catch it?" Asked the mermaid.
"Never catch it?"
"Yea." She paused, "What if your boat catches a leak and next thing you know you're at the bottom of this lake."
He shook his head quickly, "I take good care of this boat."
"You know what I mean." The mermaid pulled her hair to the side and started a braid, "How do you know you're ever going to find this perfect fish?"
"I have to," He said. His put his hat back on his head. "I've passed up too many others waiting for it."
The mermaid shook her head, "What others?"
"Fish," his voice raised but his tone remained steady. "I've passed up all of them."
The mermaid frowned. "But you're a Fisherman..." She bit her lip while she thought.
The fisherman shook his head. He knew what this looked like but he had to keep hope that it was out there. He had a routine... a plan.
He heard the splash spun around just as the mermaid dove back into the water. "Good luck finding your fish..." She called out with a laugh. The fisherman smiled. He thought he caught a glimmer of gold in her eyes before she swam ahead towards the rising sun.