"OOPS!" came quick as a thunderbolt. "Sorry" said Matt after slamming his neighbor's car door. And finally, "Thanks Mr. Lawrence, for taking me fishing!"
"Mom! Dad!" he shouted as faces showed from the second floor window. He jiggled his fishing creel with five speckled trout.
"Mom! Dad!" he repeated. His eyes were dancing. Matt could still feel those tugs back in the brook.
His feet went THUD-THUD! up the steps.
Matt's sister Devan met him at the door "Did ya catch lotsa big fish?"
"How many son?" his father asked.
"Five? All by yourself?" asked mom.
"YESSS!" he screamed. "All by myself!"
Dylan looked at his older brother's fish. "Yaak!" he said.
"Uggg!" Devan added. "They really stink!"
"Hurry, put them on the counter," said Matt's mother.
"Are you going to clean them?" his sister asked.
"Of course," Matt answered, rolling his eyes.
"Uggg, I hate fish," Devan said.
Matt got his Swiss knife from his dresser drawer.
"Mom!" Dylan said. "Can I help? Huh?"
"No. They're Matt's fish. Please, leave him alone."
Matt placed one fish on the newspaper then cut off its head. At the creek, Mr. Lawrence showed him the right way.
"Yaak!" Dylan said once more.
"Uggg!" Devan added. "Mom, look at all the mess."
The kitchen was full of watching eyes.
RING! RING! went the phone.
"Mom, please tell Dylan and Devan to stop bugging me," said Matt.
"Phone for you Matt," his father said.
Matt made faces at his brother and sister.
"Hello, Billy. Yup, I caught five fish. Come over 'n see."
"Mom, Matt has guts all over the phone," said Devan.
"Please be quiet and leave him alone," mother answered.
Before you could say, "Scratch a Llama's tummy" the doorbell rang. RINGG! RINGG!
"I came to see Matt's fish," Billy said. Behind him were several other friends.
"Sure," Matt's dad said. "The whole town might as well see Matt's fish."
Before long the room was filled with voices. Everyone pointed and said, "UGG. What a stink. PHEW." Some held onto their noses.
Matt held up his first cleaned one. "All done," he said.
They watched quietly as Matt cut the second fish, from neck to tummy. Then he placed his thumb inside and pulled the insides out.
"Yaaak!" said his sister.
"Uggg!" his brother added.
"UGGG...YAAK!!" all his friends said as if in a choir in Sunday School.
But their comments didn't bother Matt.
Soon his five fish were cleaned and rinsed. Blood and guts were placed in a garbage bag.
His mother let him cook them himself. Matt was quite hungry after his trip in the woods. Fighting off mosquitoes was hard work.
He melted butter in the frying pan. Then rolled fish in flour and put them in. Then turned them over when they became a little crispy.
The sizzle in the pan cooked the fish just right.
They smelled good.
The room was filled with hungry eyes. Everyone looked at the sizzling pan, as Matt brought it from the stove. They followed his actions as he placed the fish on his plate.
When Matt looked up all he saw was open mouths. Each had a tongue licking lips.
Matt placed a napkin under his chin. Then he held up his fork and knife and said, "Wow! All mine!"
Then voices called out, "Matt! MATTNNN! May I have a piece?"
His sister said, "Me too, PLLEASSSE."
Should he share? he asked himself.
"Me too. MEE TOOO." Voices covered him like ocean waves slapping at the shore.
These were the same people who were full of "UGGS" and "YAAKS." How come they changed their minds about my fish? Matt wondered.
Their eyes were pleading. Matt could almost hear their hearts beat faster.
"Mee too. Mee too," was getting louder in the kitchen.
Should he give them a piece? Should he? His thoughts were like fireflies blinking on and off. Matt looked up at his parents.
Mom was smiling. Dad was chewing on his lower lip.
Matt finally made the decision. He decided to share. Matt gave each person a piece of fish. Soon, smacking lip sounds filled the room.
Matt was happy, even though there wasn't a speck of fish left. He had been too generous and had given all away.
He began to giggle then fell on the floor. He couldn't stop. His feet were weary from the long walk. His arms were tired from all the casts he had made.
But he was happy.
Everyone joined in this giggling and laughing time. They stood around watching like he was a fish in a pond.
Devan smiled a big seven year old smile at her brother. Her piece of trout was still in her hand. "For you," she said.
Matt finally had a chance to say, "Yum-Yummy!"
Then everyone laughed some more.
* * *
Richard & Esther Provencher 2007
NOTE: It would be neat to see this story in a picture book format, one day.
My wife, Esther and I really enjoy writing. It is an excellent salve, in addition to prayers, a great wife and family during my continuing recovery from a stroke/aneurysm. You can contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org re comments on our work. We live in Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada. Pray for others.