Blucini skipped over the rocks, her practiced movements sure and steady, her tail expertly shifting from side to side as a counterbalance. She came here frequently. Now that raised voices were becoming more common as the family savings dwindled away, the frequency of her visits here increased as well. 

The trees overhead shaded them from the worst of the bright sunlight and its heat. Somewhere, a bird exploded out of the brush.

Her brother was behind her, lagging behind. Temnochi navigated the river rocks with a no-less-practiced path but a steadier pace.

She couldn’t help leaping up to smack a low branch with her hand as she passed by, turning around to land on one foot on the dock. Temnochi stopped, impressed. Blucini took a little bow as he laughed in amazement.

“You could have landed in that water.”

“Yeah, but I didn’t.” She smiled smugly.

He rolled his eyes.

“Have you got the pack?” she asked.

“Right here,” he said, slipping the strap off his shoulder with a shrug and unzipping the pockets. Her older brother bent his head down. He blew away long strands of dark blue hair with purple tips that covered his eyes. 

Reaching into the pocket, he pulled out the wooden shape and pocket knife he already knew she wanted.

“Thanks. You’re the best.”

“Don’t I know it.”

She kicked at his ankle and it connected. He just glared at her and stuck his tongue out.

“You’re real lucky that you’re so cute and make me laugh.”

Blucini dangled her legs over the edge of the dock, kicking them back and forth. She flipped open the knife, took the rounded wooden block and began shaping it. Flecks and thin curls of wood fell into the water below. Black shapes moved beneath the water, already assembling in anticipation.

A bold fish darted at a wooden crumb to try eating it before swimming away again.

“Guess they’re ready!” she laughed.

He wriggled a hook at her. “You should give a shot again.”

She shook her head, still smiling. “I’ll leave that to you. I don’t have the patience just yet.”

They both stared into the distance, reliving recent events. He didn’t reply in words, just gave her shoulder a couple of pats and started fitting the hook to the line. There was only the sound of the water and the steady snik of the knife against the wood for a long time.

Blucini turned the wood around in her hand, visualizing the shape it would be when it was finished. She caught Temnochi sneaking a peek but he had already learned not to say anything until it was done, or else she’d just quit entirely. If he wanted a new bright lure, he had been instructed not to interfere.

Her flow kept getting caught up in a trembling feeling in her stomach. She would snap back and realize she had lost several minutes to troubled thoughts. The fourth time it happened, she set the half-carved fish down beside her and closed her knife.

He met her eyes and his mouth parted, whiskers twitching, but he shut it again.

“Fish aren’t biting today.” He ran a hand over his long tufted ears. ”Maybe you should throw in some more of those wood bits?”

Blucini swept the pile into the water. Sure enough, the ripples increased. But not around the line extended from his rod.

She chucked a rock into the lake, making them all scatter. “Dumb fish.”

Temnochi just shrugged, an easygoing roll of the shoulder. He had an unreadable expression, but didn’t seem particularly bothered by anything today.  He readjusted the pince-nez glasses on the bridge of his nose.

“Ready to head back?” he asked, voice gentle.

“Yeah.”

The sun was going to touch the line of the lake soon. It was harder to walk back through the forest when it was dark. They had candles, just in case, but it would be better if they didn’t wait so long.

She walked around behind him to the pack, putting the incomplete wooden lure and pocket knife back into the front pocket and zipping it up.

Their pace as they went back was a lot less hurried than when they left.

Published by Watercolorheart

Artist, animator, painter, writer, aspiring musician. Working on short stories for an animated series called Sparse. Pen name Lyn Mitre.

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