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They wanted to take him fishing. Why fishing, he didn’t know. He had never been interested in fishing or hunting, or anything of that sort. Not since he’d met Marcheline anyways.
“Tom, come on, you gotta come. You’ve been sittin’ in that house for months, stepping out only for the the hospital or that grocery. She wouldn’t want you to be sittin’ like that, you know. “
He knew, he knew. But how can he go and have fun, when his beloved wife was dying? What if she died and he wasn’t there by her side? What if he was fishin’, while she would utter the last words that he’d never hear.
“Tom, your givin’ up your hope. You can’t do that. She’s gonna be fine, and its only a weekend.”
He looked at his calendar, unused for the last seven months, and reluctently filled in ‘Fishing With Jerry and Trip’.
“Atta boy, we’ll pick you up at seven in the morning. You know what to bring.”
Jerry and Trip locked the door after themselves. Tom didn’t realize that he hadn’t walked them to the door. It was out of character. He was the politest guy he knew. Marcheline always liked that about him.
Likes about him.
She’s still here, Tom said to himself. She’s still here. He got up from the kitchen table. He had to finish some paperwork for the hospital, wash some dishes and then start on some blueprints for a new department building before the end of the evening. The steps creaked as he went upstairs. He stopped. The old clock was ticking, but otherwise the house was silent. He still couldn’t get used to it. Almost five months without her, and he still couldn’t get used to the quiet. I’ll do everything when I get home, and he went back downstairs. He grabbed his coat and his keys and went, for the fourth time that day, to the hospital.
“Cheer up, Tommy boy. We got a two packs of beer over here, and a pretty darn good fishing set. And take a look at my brand new Swiss Army knife! Now ain’t that a beauty?”
Tom nodded at the knife, and stared back at the window. They had been traveling a bit, going way out from Madison. Some little town, Pinewood it was called. Jerry leaned over and rolled down the window for Tom.
“Get a little fresh air, very nice in the summer.”
Tom took a good look at Jerry. He had gained a lot of weight over the years. Jerry had been lean and muscular in college and all through his thirties. Now, at fifty- three, he was a plump, nearly bald guy. Still, he was cracking jokes and telling stories, just as he always had. Trip had also changed like Jerry. He had been growing out a little grey beard over the past year, and gained less weight than Jerry, but he was too, changed. Only he, Tom, stayed nearly the same. His appearance in the rear view mirror was just as he expected it to be. He wore the same glasses he had in college, still had all his hair… Although, it did look strangely faded now. He leaned in. The lines gathering around his face were also not so familiar. He looked thinner also, haggard. He was…old.
“We’re here boys! Welcome to our fishing haven for the next two days!”
Trip stopped the truck and got out. The other two men followed, helping unload the tent, sleeping bags, fishing supplies, packs, water, and some extra food.
“We’ll be usin’ these two boats right here. It’ll take us a few trips to get it all across.”
Tom helped out, although in a half dazed state. He hadn’t been outside for so long, he wasn’t used the real sunlight. He rowed across the water with Trip, amazed at the smoothness of the water, the clearness and the sparkle. It was a beautiful morning.
“Lets get started! Tom, throw me that fishin’ pole. You’ll be usin my old red one.”
There was no dock on this island, but Trip mentioned it had been used for fishing many times before.
“How will we be fishing?”
Tom asked, but his buddies guffawed at him. They started rolling up their sleeves and pants, walking straight into the rocky water with their poles. Tom was a little apphrehensive.
“I’ll fish in the boat.”
They were having too much fun and they didn’t turn around. Tom started dragging out the boat again. A sound of fluttering and wings hitting the water alarmed him and he stopped. He had scared a couple of ducks away. Tom started remembering Marcheline again. They were sitting by the water in Cape Cod, her hometown. She was explaining to him the different types of ducks there were out there, whispering as not to scare them. She had fed them crackers moments before and was now just watching them.
“I love how they glide in the water, circling around and making rings in the water. They just sound so delighted, don’t they?”
And she had turned to look at him with a huge smile on her face, her soft red hair falling her her face, her brown eyes twinkling in the light. Tom had reached out and kissed her for the first time there.
“Ay, you there! Are you gonna be fishin’ or not?”
Jerry clapped him on the shoulder, laughing heartily. Tom felt himself smile and rolled up his pants.
“Absoloutly , Junior.”
Jerry opened his eyes in surprise, laughing again. It had been years since Tom called him that, and it was good sign. He threw out his fishing pole, but his eyes settled back on the ducks, who were again gliding on the water, although farther away from him. The island was awakening something dead in him.
By the end of the day, Tom felt as though he learned more then he had ever learned in his life. He seemed to realize the birds and the ants and the frogs and the clouds and the water, all for the first time. He felt rejuvinated. He felt alive. Tom lay outside the tent, looking up at the stars. She would have loved it here. The animals, the trees, and the privacy of it all. He would take her here. He started imagining building a house here. He was an architect after all. It would be a small house, with only two or three rooms. Small enough not to disturb the wildlife. It would be a summer home, where Marcheline would just be able to relax, and swim, maybe start writing again. Marcheline would get better here, not in that darned hospital. There, on the soft, cool sand, Tom was filled with a new hope. The hope that left him after the sickness developed.
Two weeks had passed since he had that small vacation on the island. He had fervently tried to get information about it, to buy it. But nothing was much known about it, except that it had poor soil and sucker fish. He tried to get more information, traveled back there frequently in those two weeks, racking the neighbors. He stopped though. On June 27th, 1956, Marcheline Toadle died from a brain tumor.