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LJ Idol: Week 2: Throw Back the Little Ones

They called it "Turkey Creek," and it was nestled in the north Georgia mountains. Each autumn, my grandparents would bundle me up in the tightest clothes possible and drive the three hours it took to get to the cabin, static-laden Roger Whittaker cassette tapes our background noise.

One particular autumn, I was especially excited. I was four, and Beauty and the Beast had been out for a couple of years, long enough to start making knock-off comic books. At a gas station in the middle of nowhere in particular, Papa bought me a beautiful full-color Beauty and the Beast comic book, and I drooled over its pages the entire way up the road, stammering to my grandmother incessantly about the characters and their adventures, asking her what this panel said, that speech bubble.

We arrived, and stumbled out of the car on numbed legs. I threw my backpack of toys onto the ground and sprinted to the muddy banks of the creek that ran alongside the cabin, though I called it the ocean and Papa and Grandma never bothered to correct me.

"Papa! We have to fish!" I crowed, hopping up and down excitedly in the muck. My saint of a grandfather put the bags down in the cabin and came back a few moments later, carrying a pair of his old boots that were entirely too large for me. Undaunted, I stuck my feet in them and stomped into the water, grabbing at the fishing pole he carried under his arm.

"How...?" I trailed off, visibly frustrated. How did this fishing stuff work again? It was too hard, and too boring. It had been a good five minutes, and nothing had happened. I turned around to talk to my grandmother, and in that moment, Papa pinned a small fish to the end of my line and tossed it back into the water. I turned back around stoically, set up to hate the next few minutes, when Papa exclaimed, "Oh, look, Tricia, your line!"

My line! I yanked the fish out of the water and screeched with excitement. Papa clapped me on the back, and showed me how to unhook the flailing fish from the line and toss him in a cooler full of water Grandma had brought out. "We'll cook him for lunch tomorrow, come on." I clomped after him like a water dog after his master, still clad in his excessively large wading boots and gamely swinging the cooler and its one single, sad occupant.

As I lay in bed that night, clean and tired, I thought about my fish. My fish. My fish! If he was going to be lunch ... ! This wouldn't do. I sat up in bed, sweat sticking my hair to my forehead. Not my fish! No way.

I clambered out of bed and crept past Papa and Grandma's bedroom. They were asleep, curled into each other, twin parenthesis who had been together so long they just settled into each other's bodies like sunwarmed sand. Good. Creeping into the kitchen, I found my fish friend, still aimlessly swimming around in his tiny cooler. Gripping the handle and biting my lower lip between my teeth, I ambled to the door and nudged it open, stepping outside and looking around. The creek wasn't too far, and I was barefoot, so hopefully ...

I found out later that the next morning, Papa awoke to me passed out in bed with feet caked in mud, grimy footprints trailing from the front door to the bed, coating the sheets. I had put the cooler back in the kitchen, but left the lid open. When asked what happened to my fish, I stammered something about how he must have gotten away. Luckily, my grandparents simply said they understood, he must have been quite alone and scared in that cooler, and I must have just gone sleepwalking! I emphatically agreed, and that was all she wrote.

I wore my grandfather's fishing boots until we stopped going to Turkey Creek when I was fifteen.
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Such a sweet story, and I love this glimpse of your grandparents. They sound just wonderful!

Poor, lonely little fish...
Awww, how adorable! I let my fish go, the one time I went fishing, too. :)
haha totally random, the house I grew up in (lived there from 2 years old until 15 years old) had a lot of woods around it - there was a stream in them and we named it Turkey Creek! (I doubt it had any sort of official name haha)
Wonderful and what a sweet memory!! I attempted to keep many animals at my own grandparents and also releasing them and this made me think of them so much. Thank you for that!! :)
"They were asleep, curled into each other, twin parenthesis who had been together so long they just settled into each other's bodies like sunwarmed sand."

This was an absolutely gorgeous line. I enjoyed this story. :)
So, I've got this spreadsheet I keep track of things with - I write down notes on each entry when I manage to read it. My notes on yours were "now THIS is how you write a fishing story". I loved this so much. The details are awesome and really set the scene perfectly. It's heartwarming and sweet and just generally great. Well done!
This was a sweet recall from your childhood. I love the simplicity of the little one's logic!