The wind changes the texture of the air, sends ripples across the surface of the water. It carries the smell of honeysuckle and pipe smoke. It is a chorus of murmurs through the dry leaves.
Andrew watches a leaf drift by, first plummeting, before being sucked up, up, up, high into the air on updraft after updraft. It rides the same currents the osprey does and he wonders where each will be when the sun goes down.
Andrew will be at home.
Right now, however, he is not at home. He is shin deep in the cold, clear water of a runoff stream, rod in hand, feeling the wind on his skin and wondering if the trout are feeling hungry.
He imagines they are. It’s been a long winter.
In later years, he will come to think of it as a time of directions. Everyone left and nothing went right. He could almost find a bit of humor in that somedays - dark humor, small and sticky like a ball of pine tar.
Through all those months, all the trips to the hospital, he had found solace by the water. There was a logic in it that he appreciated. You fished. If the fish were hungry and if you didn’t screw up too bad, you caught some. Fish like an idiot? No fish. Fish aren’t interested? So be it. Some things are beyond our control. The fish were just. There was no justice in sickness or doctors. I
Illness was the bravado and optimism of fishing, with nothing else. And it waited.
Illness has immense patience.
He tried to push it out of his mind and almost succeeded. For a few hours, he was almost as pure as the water. He was connected to something, tethered.
He could not float away.