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by C.S. Fuqua

Irene and Mother love to fish. If they fish two days in a row but get the same catch both days, one day will be the best ever, the other the worst. Who knows why? On worst days, they throw the fish back and complain they want it all to end, to be with Jesus.

I can’t do anything for Mother, but Irene’s a different story. I can make her happy with a single thought. Like this: I could place a six-pound bass on her line. She’d giggle and reel it in, crowing it’s her best catch ever. Even so, she’d say, “I’m just so tired these days.”

So I could place Irene in her own skiff on a glassy ocean aglow from an orange sherbet sunset. She’d sit primly in the narrow bow, shrinking toward the horizon, and wave to me. “Best sunset ever,” she’d call, and it would be.

If I could, I’d do the same for Mother. I’d place her in a boat on a crystalline sea under a spectacular sky. And whether the best or worst day ever, she could drift into the oblivion she so craves.

C.S. Fuqua’s books include White Trash & Southern — Collected Poems, The Swing — Poems of Fatherhood, Walking after Midnight — Collected Stories, Big Daddy’s Fast-Past Gadget, Hush, Puppy! A Southern Fried Tale (children’s), and Native American Flute — A Comprehensive Guide — History & Craft. His work has appeared in publications such as Year’s Best Horror Stories XIX, XX, and XXI, Pudding, Pearl, Chiron Review, Christian Science Monitor, Slipstream, The Old Farmer’s Almanac, The Writer, and Honolulu Magazine.