Saturday, February 13, 2010, 2:12 PM, time zone withheld
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Carly lay on her belly, risking splinters from the rough wooden planks of the sunwashed floating dock. In her left hand was a red-painted wooden frame wound with green fishing line. From her right hand dangled a length of line, weighted by a piece of lead in the size and shape of a split pea. She could just barely make out her baited hook in the murky depths below. Around it swirled a chiaroscuro of disinterested fish.
'Here, fishy, fishy, fishy,' Yelina said, leaning on her elbows and looking over her shoulder. 'Come get your nice nummies.'
Kiko leaned far over the water and stared into its depths. 'Wow! Just look at them all! Why aren't they biting?'
'We could just go down there and catch one and put it on the hook!' Yelina pouted.
Their eyes got very large as something massive drifted through the depths beneath them.
'All right,' Kiko told her, 'you go down there, then!'
They were joined by Tina, who was munching a bag of salt 'n' vinegar potato chips. She made the mistake of proffering them. Its contents were promptly set upon and vanished in a chorus or rapid crunching.
'Hey! Leave me some-!'
'We'll give you some fish,' Yelina said distractedly, wiping crumbs from her mouth with the back of her hand.
'One of those fish,' Kiko said distractedly as she peered into the depths. 'Just as soon as Carly catches one.'
Tina game them a look. 'You ain't never gonna catch one a those! At least, not using . . . what is that? What are you using for bait?'
'A piece of doughnut!' Carly said in annoyance. 'Hey! Give it back!'
'Fish don't eat doughnuts!' Tina told her, crossly. 'They eat stuff like this.' She retrieved Carly's line, removed the soggy ort of doughnut clinging forlornly to its hook. She then reached down into the water, pulled a mussel free from a clump attached to the wooden pier, pried it open, yanked out its contents, rebaited the hook, and tossed it back into the water, to a chorus of "Ew-w-w-w-w-w" from Carly and Kiko.
Almost instantly something struck!
'Pull it in! Pull it in-!'
'Don't let it get away-!'
'You got something-!'
They all yelled simultaneously.
Carly go to her knees and began reeling in her catch, with the other girls yelling excitedly and cheering her on.
Sceptical at the true urgency of the shrill screams they were hearing, Jack, Mike, Arley and Satu went to the window of the beach-front cabin to investigate. The four bikini-clad girls were shrieking as much from fright as delight at the sight of something that flopped and writhed and wriggled upon the dock. From a shed to their right, Jason appeared, and approached the creature purposefully to show the girls that he was not afraid of a mere-
Jack and Mike laughed out loud at his reaction, watched as he unsuccessfully tried to master his fear and loathing.
'Oh, please!' Arley disdainfully left them and went outside and onto the dock to rescue the poor eel Carly had captured.
The kids watched in awe as Arley fearlessly strode up to the writhing creature, held its head down while its body wrapped its slimy length around her arm, neatly removed the hook, and calmly placed it back into the water.
Carly gaped. 'But I wanted it!'
Arley chuckled at that. 'What, you were going to eat it?'
'No,' Carly pouted. 'I just wanted it to look at.'
'Look, if you kids want to catch something for supper, here's how you do it-'
'She's very good with the children,' Satu said with a knowing smile to Jack as she and Mike went back to the table where their tea waited.
'H'm? Oh, yeah,' Jack said distracted, belatedly rejoining them.
'She looks pretty much recovered,' Mike offered, watching Jack carefully.
'Yeah, I suppose.' He sighed. 'It'd be nice to buy this place . . . stay here for a while. Except . . . well . . . the kids have school. And band. And hockey. And all their friends. And a million other things. There're just so many . . . distractions.'
As Arley came back inside, Mike said meaningly to Satu, who nodded in response, 'I think there's just one distraction right now that needs dealing with.' Pretending not to notice, or smile, they watched the awkward manner in which Arley and Jack responded to each other.
'They're even dressed alike!' Satu observed. 'I'll bet neither of them even noticed.'
Mike gave her a look.
'What, this?' she said, indicating the sweater she wore with an impish grin. 'It looks just like yours for a reason. It is yours!'