A fly drops from the morning sky onto the mirror surface of a lake. Twitch, twitch, concentric ripples expand with each movement. She flips right, moves left, circles right, and dances left. A fish appears under the fly. He sucks water through torn lips. Each gulp brings the fly closer. He examines the fly only to swim past to deeper water. She wiggles and begins to lift from the pond. He returns, lingers, and swallows the fly.
I jerk the taught line that connects the fly to my fly rod. A hook is buried in the body of the fly that penetrates the fish’s gullet.
A dump truck, the color of green pond algae, misses his commercial destination and heads down a quiet residential street. A week earlier, Dad taught me how to call my dog, Pepper to my side. Black and white he is, with a coat like the contents of mother’s salt and peppershakers that sit high above my reach on our kitchen table. Pepper and I sit on the front porch of our home in the afternoon sun. Pepper’s head warms my hand.
“Let me carry Pepper down to the sidewalk so we can teach him how to come when you call,” dad says.
Dad gently lowers Pepper to the sidewalk. “Call him,” dad says.
“Pepper,” I say.
“Say Pepper come,” dad says.
“Pepper come,” I say.
“Louder,” dad says.
“Pepper come,” I shout. Pepper runs up the steps to his place beside me. I rub his ears. Pepper is a good dog.
Today, I see the green truck two blocks from our home. Pepper sniffs the neighbor’s lawn across the street. I want Pepper at my side, safe from harm.
“Pepper come,” I say. He turns, looks at me, and continues to investigate our neighbor’s bushes. I see the truck one block away.
“Pepper come,” I shout. He hesitates and slowly crosses the street.
“No Pepper, no, no, no” I yell.
The truck’s left front tire rises by an imperceptible amount. Brakes scream, the driver opens the truck’s door, and jumps down to the pavement.
He looks at me. “Gee kid, I didn’t see him. He ran right out in front of me. I couldn’t stop in time.”
Dad runs to Pepper. He tears off his suit coat jacket and carries my doggie up the steps to my side. I stare at the bundle through a river of tears.
“It’s not your fault,” dad says.
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Richard Wilberg, MS, PLCC, ACC
Coach for Personal Fulfillment and Career Success
About the Author
Richard Wilberg is a coach, musician, photographer, and former business leader who lives in Madison, Wisconsin.