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Let's Go Fishing
“It’s hard to believe that just three days ago, a shooting at Kamiak High School in Mukilteo, Washington took place. Today, Kamiak is holding a memorial service for the eight teenagers that were shot and killed. To anyone that is mourning a death today; Channel 7 News wishes you the best. Back to you, Diane.”
Dad turned the television off. In just a few seconds, after the commercial break, the news channel will show a fashion show, a kid that survived leukemia, a faggot trying to show that it’s okay to be gay. The media doesn’t give a s*** about anyone shot; they care about the person who sees it. They’d care less if half the world exploded. If it’s a way to attract more viewers, they’ll show it. Nobody is mourning but Dad, sitting silent slouched on the couch, dressed in black.
Along the wall were fishing poles that were put out for a fun trip for Dad and his son to go fishing with. They had planned to go fishing the day of the shooting, just after school.
Mom steps out of the hall, holding Little Sisters hand. They are silent. They too, are wearing black, and are ready to go to the Memorial Service. Mom has big purple circles under her eyes, she probably hasn’t slept. Little Sister sits there with a frown on her face, still a bit confused as to where her brother was.
Little Sister did not understand. What is happening? Why is everyone crying? Why hasn’t she seen her big brother in three days? A three year old can have a lot of damage done if you let them sit and think.
“..Are you ready to go?” Mom asks Dad. Dad doesn’t answer. He hasn’t talked or eaten in the past three days. The last time he spoke to Mom was when he told her his perfect son was shot by a crazy kid.
After a moment of anxious silence, Dad finally got up. He grunts and groans, but he has to get up. Dad is usually a big, strong guy, but he had lost his appetite, and was losing weight fast.
Mom, Dad, and Little Sister make their way to the garage. In Dad’s big pick-up truck, he rides shotgun as he did on the way home from the crime scene. This, too, was unusual. He never let anyone drive it, except for his 18-year-old son.
Ryan was gone. Nobody could face that fact. Little Sister was bouncing in the backseat of the car, excited because she thought they were going to see him. And in a way, they were. After just a few minutes, they arrived at the high school. The parking lot was full, so they parked in a handicap spot. “What is the school going to do, kill my child?” Dad thought to himself. “Oh wait, they already did that.”
They make their way past lockers, including one with flowers all over it. This wasn’t Ryan’s locker, it was someone else’s. The three knew that Ryan’s locker would be covered in more. They find their way to the library, and this is where it all happened. Little Sister notices that there is yellow tape all over the door. She was too confused. She lets go of Mom’s hand, and goes to the door. She rips pieces of the tape off, and tries to push on the library door. Locked. The strange thing is that Mom and Dad were talking about how Ryan was in the library. Mom and Dad took Little Sister’s hand and they made their way to the library. Little Sister continued to stare at the library until they pass the corner.
Sometimes in movies, Dad would see people cheering during memorial services, to celebrate someone’s life, not mourn their death. But this wasn’t the case. The gym doors were open, and there was pure silence. Spots were reserved for the three of them, right in front.
Mom was crying. Little Sister wasn’t paying attention to the speaker. She was paying attention to her Mom. Little Sister started to cry too, but she didn’t know why. Dad sat there, and closed his eyes, and remembered one of the best times he had with Ryan.
“And don’t forget, Ryan, you can’t let go of the pole. When the fish bites, reel it in.” Ryan was fishing for the first time, at the age of fourteen. It’s hard to believe this was only four years ago.
Dad remembers how impatient Ryan was. It took Ryan nearly twenty minutes to catch a single fish. He caught a catfish that fought a good fight. After putting three more fish in the bag, Dad’s phone rang. Mom was pregnant, with Little Sister. Ryan beamed a smile, he always wanted a sister.
Dad stood up from the memorial service, left the room, and went outside to get some air. He was sweaty, his armpits dripping. He still wasn’t ready to face his son’s death, let alone mourn it.
It’s hard to imagine what this world would be like if everyone fit in, if there was peace at schools. Drama and popularity have infected schools with the need to be loved by everyone, or they won’t go to school. Girls sometimes don’t show up for fear of getting in a fight with one person. Guys don’t show up for fear of a fight at school. Would you rather be the most popular person in your school, or would you make your social life non-existent, so you assure yourself a better future?
Kids these days just don’t get it. They’re partying hard, and sure, that’s what kids do. But what they don’t see is themselves in ten years, is them scrambling for money and living off of their parents. If kids just went to school and listened to the bulls*** their teachers are spoon feeding them, their life could be so much better in the future.
Little Sister stood up on her chair, looking for Ryan. Mom set her back down on her chair. Little Sister had to sit through this old man talk about something that happened a few days ago, that she had no interest for.
Little Sister thought for a moment and closed her eyes.
“Come on,” Ryan said. “Please go down the waterslide with me, Sis?”
Little Sister was scared, so she shook her head no. Ryan was disappointed, but he didn’t show it. “Okay.” Ryan always made her laugh and giggle. He taught her how to swim, and how to go underwater. Little Sister only cried when she got water in her eyes, but the pain from the chlorine passed.
Ryan would put Little Sister up on his shoulders while he walked around. Every once in a while, he would jump, just to mess with her. He’d put Little Sister on his back, and swim around, and she would just rest her head on his back, and sometimes even fall asleep. Ryan and Little Sister were the best pair. Bonnie and Clyde. Elvis and Priscilla. Siegfried and Roy. Not in the loving sense, but the partnership sense. Nothing could split them apart, except for two shots to the chest.
Little Sister got out her seat, and ran out of the gym. She felt she knew where Ryan was. She screamed, loud enough for everyone to hear, “Ryan, I’m coming!” Mom got up and went after Little Sister. She opened the door going outside, but only found her husband. He was sitting on a rock, his face buried in his arms.
“Your daughter is missing. She ran away, somewhere in the building.” Mom told Dad. Dad got up immediately, and they both knew where Little Sister was.
Meanwhile, Little Sister ran to the library door. She pulled and pushed, pushed and pulled, but it wouldn’t budge. “Ryan, come out!” She screamed. “Please, big brother, I miss you!” She looked through the window into the dark room, but saw nothing. Little Sister then started crying. She wiped her eyes, tear for each finger. Mom and Dad ran to the library hall and grabbed her.
“..Where’s Ryan?” Little Sister asked. Mom and Dad looked at her, and Dad spoke first. “Claire… Ryan isn’t coming back. He’s gone to heaven. God has taken him.” Claire, for the first time, understood what happened to Ryan. “But Dad, he’s my brother. Why would God take him from me? Why does God make people sad?”
It felt impossible for Dad to answer the question. “…God works in mysterious ways, Claire.” He replied.
“I don’t think I like God.” Claire said. Mom and Dad were both very Christian. They took their kids to church every Sunday. They dressed them up, they did bible studies. They held hands at dinner and said grace before they ate. But this time, they let Claire think what she wanted to.
And maybe, just maybe, it was God that had killed Ryan. No, not God, but Ryan’s faith in God. Maybe the shooters went through and killed who had thought that there was a heaven above us, and a hell beneath us. Maybe they picked out each individual student, and asked them for their beliefs. Maybe they left the kids who didn’t believe in anything, they left the atheists.
“I’m hungry, Dad. Let’s go to that Macaroni Place again.” The Macaroni Place was where they had their last dinner with Ryan. The restaurant laid paper on the table for them to draw on. While Claire was being carried, she closed her eyes, thinking and remembering their last supper.
“Look, Ryan! I drew you!” Claire yelled. Ryan leaned over to Claire, who was standing on her seat, to see the smiley-face and stick body that she drew oh so well. “That’s cool, sister, but look at my drawing of you!” Claire walked over on the bench to see a girl in a big empty plain, the wind pressing hard, her carrying a kite, and her hair going out. She had big blue eyes, long, beautiful brown hair, and a black dress that hung down under her knees.
“This is you when you get older, Claire.” The picture had a yellow flower put behind her ear. “But, where are you, Ryan?” Claire asked. “I’m probably the one taking the picture of you with the kite. When you get older, Claire, you should go do this sometime, so the drawing is true.”
Claire fell in love with the picture. Every day, Claire told herself she was going to marry Ryan, as all other little girls do with their father or brother. “Can I put this on my wall, Ryan?” Claire asked.
“Only if I get a big hug.” Ryan said. Claire walked right next to him, gave him a big hug, she squeezed too hard, and gave him a big kiss on the cheek. Their food came, and it was Dad’s last meal. They all had plates of different types of ravioli.
“Hey Dad.” Ryan said. Dad stopped from his meal to look up at his excellent student, his quarterback son, his greatest achievement. “Yes?”
“After school tomorrow, let’s go fishing.”