FATHER TO SONS • by Ellen Peters

The air was cool, but the sun was bright and still carried some summer warmth. Don was happy to be outdoors with his sons. He had bought them fishing rods and was excited to introduce them to the sport he had shared with his father.

He envisioned many weekends spent camping, canoeing and fishing, far from his office, their video games and his ex-wife. He handed the gear to his boys.

“Ooh. Those worms are gross,” Mark shuddered.

“What are they for?” Mat asked “Are we setting them free?”

“No, stupid,” Mark said. “You put them on the hook and the fish come to eat them.”

“We’re going to feed the fishies?” Mat asked.

“We’re going to eat the fishies.”

“Not today,” Don said. “Today is for practice. We’ll take a picture of your catch, but then we’ll throw them back.”

“That’s dumb,” Mark grumbled.

Don hooked a worm onto each of the rods, since the boys refused to touch them.

“This is heavy,” Mark complained.  “How long do I have to hold it?”

Mat had already given up on holding the rod and was snacking on grapes.

Don sighed and told himself to ignore Mark’s complaint. They’re young, he told himself, although he had been younger than Mark when he started fishing.

“Hey! What’s going on?” Mark called.

“You got a bite. Good work, Mark.” Don walked over to stand beside his son.

“He just stood there,” Mat grumbled.

“It’s more than you did,” Mark snapped.

“Start reeling it in slowly,” Don said.

“My hand hurts. You do it,” Mark handed his rod to Don.

Don sighed and reeled in the fish. It was a small trout, about 20 cm long. Don whistled. “Look at that! Hold it, son, and I’ll take a picture.” Don held the rod out towards Mark.

“Gross! No way. I’m not getting close to that thing,” Mark said.

“Mat?” Don offered.

“I’m scared,” Mat said. “It’s looking at me.”

“Mat’s afraid of a fishie!” Mark laughed.

“Daa-ad!” Mat cried. “Mark’s making fun of me.”

Don pressed his lips together. He released the squirming trout from the hook and threw it back into the pond.

“I’m hungry,” Mark said. “Can we go out for lunch?

“I packed us a picnic.” Don gathered up the rods and the container of worms.

Mark looked around. “We aren’t going to eat here, are we?”

“What if the fish comes back?’ Mat asked.

Don looked up. Both boys were staring at him.

“Let’s have lunch here and then I’ll take you for ice cream,” he tried.

“I have to pee,” Mat said.

“I want a hamburger.”

“I don’t like sandwiches.”

“What if the fish comes back?”

“Get into the car,” Don said. “I’ll take you out for lunch.”

There was a Goodwill on the way where he could drop off the rods.

Ellen Peters writes in Ontario, Canada.

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Every Day Fiction

  • John Brooke

    Excellent ear, Ellen. You’ve captured a natural girly boy dialog that is an accurate reflection of our times.

  • A sad story and all too true. I can relate on so many levels. Excellent.

  • Complete flash work, entertaining.

  • This is great! I laughed all the way through. The voice is so genuine. I think I know those kids, lol!

  • I’m so glad I never had kids.

  • vondrakker

    Loved the dialogue.
    Thought the beginning and
    the end….were soft.
    My opinion…spice it up a bit.
    3 * * *

  • Nice slice of fishing life. Especially liked the boy worrying about whether the fish was coming back and the Goodwill ending.

  • Nice story, but just a couple of nit picks.
    Trout don’t live in ponds, only fast flowing streams and rivers.
    If he’d thrown it back that would probably kill it anyway.
    Otherwise, a nicely realistic ending! Sign of the times.

  • pixie shaw

    My natural reaction is to say that both boys need a k… up the a.. But then he would never see them again.
    Good story.

  • Nice slice of life with a strong emotional punch.

  • Unsolicited Busybody

    Had the same thing happen when I took my boys fishing. The only difference was on the way home my youngest said, “Dad, can we go again yet week?”

  • The beginning of this piece, i.e. a weather update, is a classic example of how NOT to start a story.

    Also, using two similar names – MArk and MAt – is another classic no-no.

    Though comic enough, the unceasing dialog got a bit monotonous for me.

    That said, I was entertained, which was the point of the story.

  • Chris

    I felt there was a much more positive spin to it than that … he is only taking the boys fishing because that’s what his dad did with him. At the end he realises he doesn’t have to.

  • Pretty good, pretty good. I don’t know about whether trout live in ponds and if you handle them they will die like one reader pointed out, but if that’s true it’s a teaching moment for all writers to write about what they know. I mean really know. Outside of that it was a pretty good story.

  • Simone

    #13 said the dad is only taking the boys fishing because that’s what his dad did with him and at the end, he realizes he doesn’t have to. I felt more like the point was that “you can’t go home again” – Don needs to make new, original memories with his spoiled, whiny, self-indulgent boys because this isn’t the ’50s and ’60s any more. Kind of sad.