I didn’t open my eyes or move from my position. “I fell for that trick once already today.”
“Do you want to keep me company while I fish?”
“Yeeessssss,” I slyly replied, much like when he invited me camping. He was already standing with rod and tackle box in hand. “Do I have a moment to grab something from my tent?”
He did the no-answer response, but I also didn’t allow time for one. I wanted to bring my sketchbook and capture an image of the place I learned to fish. I zipped my tent and caught back up to him even though he already started towards the creek. We walked similarly to the morning, but this time, not as far apart. I knew the way now, but still chose to follow him until we reached the water.
He carried himself in such a natural gentle rhythm, and at the creek’s edge, he similarly cascaded his line across the water. When he released his line upstream, his first attempt landed gently without a sound over the creek’s own voice. His skills appeared so natural, and in complete contrast to my own abilities.
“Here.” He held the fishing pole out to me. Really, we were doing this again? I didn’t reach for it.
“Please, just for a moment?” I still didn’t move. “I promise I won’t leave.”
That sounded genuine, and the kind of thing a girl likes to hear, so I took the pole. I waited for the ‘gotcha,’ but it never came. He took a few steps back along the creek, away from his line, and took off both shirts again. He squatted near the water’s edge and grabbed a handful of water and splashed his face. Knowing how cold it was earlier, I felt the sting all the way over here.
Of course, as I stared at his body, I also forgot to keep an eye on the line. I quickly reeled it back in and tried to cast it without hitting him. The resulting attempt proved how poorly I could deviate from the simple skills I developed hours previously. I continued to hear him splashing the water and when he returned to retrieve the pole, he was completely saturated, including all of his hair and the tops of his jeans. He left his shirts and hat off and when I forcefully commanded myself to stop looking at his body, I glanced at the area where he’d cleaned up I saw his white t-shirt balled up and wet beside the other articles.
I reeled in the line so he could cast it again, and he laid his fingers against mine so as to not release the hook, and this time it worked.
“Thanks.” I headed towards the same pile of rocks we used that morning as the place from which to recreate the image for my sketch. As I left his immediate vicinity, I felt his hand grasp my hair so softly I considered that maybe I imagined it.
I opened my book to the next blank page. I started a new sketchbook about ten months earlier, and although I failed to be prolific, I could sum up the past year succinctly with the existing, dark images. This one, however would be peaceful and memorable. I started to draw and only barely began when he reeled in his first fish. As he lifted it out of the water, he asked if I wanted to name it. I smiled and kept working.
As the picture began to take shape, I tried to think peacefully rather than lustfully about the Lumberjack. I knew for certain I liked him physically. I probably knew that before this weekend, but moments like this where he stood in the scattered sunlight with his shirt off confirmed it. I glanced over at him. Yes, the view was lovely.