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  • Writer's pictureMarie Smysor Watson

Best Laid Plans

The best-laid schemes of mice and men

Go often askew,

And leave us nothing but grief and pain,

For promised joy!

Good ole Robbie Burns said it first, way back yonder in 1785, but us present day folks managed to co-opt it when we came up with the well heeled phrase: Shit happens. How was I supposed to know it takes 72 hours for Amazon to approve a book? (IT WAS IN WRITING ON THE WEBSITE) Was I supposed to read the fine print? (YES) Was it even that fine of print? (NO) Well, shit happens, I guess. So, the book will be delayed by a few days. But here's a story, a fun one that I wrote this summer after I went fishing one fine June evening. I'll let y'all know when the book is released from Amazon's basement. Thanks for your patience!

Once This Really Happened Once

Once, or just a few minutes ago, I looked over and there’s an old man sitting beside me and he may have been here the whole time but I can’t say for certain because I’m drunk again, or coming off of being drunk, even though I promised not to drink so much anymore, I did, I did, but I did it anyway and now I’m here, queasy and full of sun, with an old man trying to make silly conversation when all I’m trying to do is fish and he says, there used to be more fish here, and he smiles and nods even though I barely glance at him because I know enough not to talk to strange men even though I do not know enough NOT to drink when I have promised Mother I wouldn’t, Mother who would think less of me if she knew and he’s still smiling and nodding three minutes later when I look over again and ask, how do you know how many fish are here this is a big lake, and he laughs with a stretched mouth, showing off pink gums and he says, I’m an old man, that’s why, I’ve been fishing this lake forever, and I say, forever isn’t even a thing, which is true, it isn’t, but this makes him laugh even harder and say, forever is forever little girl, and I say, that’s nonsense, which is exactly what Todd, who used to be my older brother before he died, would say whenever he disagreed with you and the old man says, nonsense is nonsense, but he doesn’t laugh and now I’m sober and glad to be because the sun is too close and my bobber goes up and down and then it’s drawn away and I’m squealing louder than I did when Mother told me about Todd dying when he drove his car across a swollen river road and was swept away and the fireman didn’t even find him until after we had the funeral, but I’m not squealing this time because I’m lost but because my line is heavy and it pulls, something pulls hard and I reel and reel and it’s a bass, long and shiny and I yank it in the last few feet because I am so excited to have caught something in this lake even though the old man told me there were hardly any fish here anymore but when I turn my head to scold him about speaking nonsense to a young girl, he’s gone and I have to wonder, Did I just met the devil, or was it god Himself and I didn’t recognize him because he had no teeth and also because I was drunk even though I’d promised Mother I wouldn’t drink anymore, I did promise that, I did and so I throw the fish back after I unhook him because Todd was always hedging his bets, except that one time crossing the road, and I think maybe I should too just this once.

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