My grandfather was never the same after my grandmother’s passing. My mother took turns with her siblings taking care of him. Unfortunately my parents were divorced and my father had moved to the west coast so the burden was far greater on my mother than her siblings. I think that is why she sent me to spend the summer with my father’s parents, Grandpa and Grandma Summers, at their lakeside cabin.
Grandpa and Grandma Summers weren’t the nurturing type so I found my warmest companionship with their old Golden Retriever, Amber. Amber was well beyond her years of playing fetch, but she seemed to take great pride in leading me down the labyrinth of paths around the lake in search of unknown treasures. That was how I met Matt, a boy who was spending the summer with his parents at their cabin a few lanes over.
Matt was a little older than I, but seemed to have trouble making friends because of his devotion to fishing. When I expressed an interest in catching fish he took me under his wing instantly. Grandpa Summers provided me with an old fishing rod and Matt and I made the long trek to a nearby creek where he promised we would catch schools of brook trout. Amber came along to keep an eye on both of us.
Fishing turned out to far more interesting than I had ever expected. It started out rather boring, but that changed instantly when I got the first bite. Just the feel of that little brook trout on the end of the line pumped up my adrenalin. I shrieked and jumped around, reeling it in as fast as I could. Matt was quite disappointed when I quickly flung it out of the water and into the bushes, for he explained that the greatest joy in fishing was dragging out the battle to reel in the fish.
He lurched into the bushes and grabbed that little brook trout, quickly dashing its consciousness on the trunk of a tree. This was where I expressed my disappointment, for I felt cheated by not being able to watch the life drain from the trout. Matt seemed a bit perplexed by my desire to watch the fish die slowly, but he agreed to take part as long as I agreed to spend more time fighting to reel them in.
Amber expressed her disappointment when Matt hung the fish by its gills in a tree to keep it out of her reach. Apparently this was just the sort of treasure she had been expecting to find on our journeys and she seemed to feel that the trout, by rights, was hers. She made her way to the edge of the creek and laid down with her head on her paws to pout as we cast our lines with confidence bolstered by our recent success.
Matt got the next bite, and he wasn’t kidding when he said that he liked to prolong the fight. He swung his fishing rod around in an exaggerated struggle, reeling in more line as he swung it back down stream. When it seemed that there couldn’t be any more line left in the water, he clicked down the button to let the line spool back out with a whirring zip and started all over again. I jumped up and down in excitement as Amber paced back and forth barking out a warning to anyone thinking of stealing our trout.
Finally that poor fish just didn’t have enough fight left in it to hold Matt’s interest and he swung it onto the path beside the creek. Amber jumped in close to get a good sniff but I pulled her back so I could kneel beside it. There was a lot of life in its eye but it just didn’t have the strength to flop around. It gasped for air and I could tell that its heart had to be beating wildly. It squirmed a bit when I set my hand upon it but was powerless to escape. I leaned in and stared into its eye.
“What are you doing?” Matt asked.
“Watching the life drain out of its eye,” I answered.
Matt knelt beside me to see what I was talking about. Within a minute or so the eye quickly drained and stopped staring back. I really didn’t feel the energy that I had felt in my Grandma’s hand when she had passed but there was no mistaking the failing beacon of that eye. Matt saw it too and was quite impressed that I seemed to know what I was talking about.
We sat back on the path and discussed what had just happened. I told him about my Grandmother’s passing and how the life that drained from her eyes was much deeper than what we had just witnessed. He was quite enthralled by my description and we discussed it at length, completely oblivious that Amber had gone missing. By the time we remembered the fish, we turned to discover that it had disappeared as well. Just then, Amber emerged from the bushes, covered in dirt, and we realized that she had buried our treasure.