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The King This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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The burning sun floats high in the sky. The water moves back and forth shimmering as the wind blows, weaving through the trees lining the water’s edge. As the boat rocks, I cast out my line and lure like I have a thousand times. I’ve been out here all day, taking orders from my father, fishing where he wants.
Fish after fish surface from my dad’s line, and I handle the net. Each catch I merely admire. I cannot call one my own.
This is the first time I lurked among these waters. I cast out my line with ol’ reliable on the end. I sit back and reel slowly, cautiously. I feel the movement through the jerk of my pole. Surprised, but calm, I wait. The line tightens with a mammoth pull from the other end. My pole jolts toward the water’s surface and the line yanks off my reel, yards at a time.
I fight back. Reeling hard, pulling the line tight. Ripples pulsate. “Get the net!” I holler. Ripples grow into waves as the source rises to the edge of the vital boundary. Splash as the net dives into the water and up comes the prize. Thrilled. Invigorated. Accomplished. I caught the fish.
Staring me in the face is my first Northern Pike, a king of the depths. As I gaze into the king’s eyes, I see innocence and life. I retrieve ol’ reliable. I hold the fish as its heart still beats. I place him in the water, and let him breathe. I free my grip. And with one final gaze, a king returns to its kingdom.

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