Keywords: Trout, Shiv, Ankle bracelet
It was somewhere between the beginning of summer, and the end. Between the north side of the river that ran through their tiny tourist town, and the mouth of the lake that it fed itself into. Somewhere between the ages of 9 and 13, before ankle-bracelets were traded in for apple watches, before imagination was outdone by Angry Birds, she was a panther. And the mighty jungle cat was stalking her prey.
She crept through the deciduous, midwestern jungle, her face streaked with mud stains that she wore like victory medals. Her hair adorn with orange autumn leaves, she waded through the river waters to wait for him. Her brothers never took her fishing. They always said that fishing wasn’t something girls should do.
She clutched her weapon, the carefully constructed shiv on a stick that was to be her warrior spear. It felt like an extension of her arm because of how long she’d spent throwing it into the ground, watching it more or less hit her intended targets. Sometimes more, often less. Her toes grew chilly as the waters rushed around her.
Today was the day she proved them wrong. Today, she was the hunter. She was the fierce, Amazonian warrior woman. Today, she was Joan of Arc, waiting to take down her final enemy– trout.
Trout was all that stood between her and redemption. He was the answer to her injustice, the key to her inclusion, and all she could think was how sweet it would taste, like victory and river water.
She spent all afternoon waiting for him. Time and again, he evaded capture. He was more skilled on these battlegrounds than she. He commanded more troops than she, more speed. But she was relentless. She was determined. She heard her parents calling her from a distance, asking her what she wanted for dinner, and all she could think was trout.
Suddenly, in a flash, the battle was upon her. His scales shimmered in the dying sunlight, he was aiming for the heavens with this jump. She pounced upon him. She corralling him in a corner of the river. He thrashed. She thrashed. He thrashed again, as she let out an inhuman howl. She plunged her spear down. It bit into flesh, and she had won…
Somewhere between now and then, irony worked its way into her vocabulary. She took a life to claim her own, as though it could protect her from feeling hurt, and betrayal, and rejection. But to prove someone wrong, and to be proven wrong are really two sides of the same river bank, and it doesn’t really matter where you’re standing. And it didn’t really matter so much that her brothers told her she was good enough, as long as she was good enough for herself. She didn’t need them to tell her to know that it is true. To know that she was a champion, and had been all along. Champion, of all the trout.
This is a submission for a local event called Fiction 440! Every month they select three random words to be used in a story, and then people write, and share their stories. This is my submission, and I’m actually so excited to share it with a bunch of strangers. Then again, I suppose that’s what I’m doing here. I’ve very rarely read my work aloud, on a stage, in a presentation format. I think this story is a good place to start learning how. It’s funny, and silly, and I find myself just wanting to read it to everyone, so that’s good right? Haha, I hope you enjoyed! Wish me luck!