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MY FATHER, OUR RIVER by MJ Harbottle

MY FATHER, OUR RIVER by MJ Harbottle, LISP Flash Fiction FINALIST

My Father, Our River


She crouched on the bank, meticulously watching the river. Early on she’d learnt to be a still, silent child at her father’s side. He had taught her to read the water. To look for signs and be patient.

‘Never rush God’s timing my girl,’ he had regularly preached.

The early May sun lifted itself above the horizon, whilst a soft haze of mist created by the previous night’s cool air rolled across the dew-drenched fields, down to where she sat on her haunches. A pungent mix of wild garlic and snowbell onion rising from the nearby woodland floor filled the air. Leaves in the overhanging trees hummed and feathered in the breeze, a gently murmuring backdrop to the contrasting cacophony of the dawn chorus. Although not yet warm enough for sand martins to begin their aerobatics high above the water, the early morning mayfly hatch was already skimming the surface, daring wild brown trout to rise and gorge upon them. She waited.

Suddenly, a tell-tale swirl. Her reflex was instant. Barely raising her body, she flicked her fly rod outwards. Glinting briefly in the rising sun, the hair-like thread at the end of the line fell delicately across the water, casting her to fly to the outer edges of the ripples. Unable to resist, a brownie broke the surface, pink mouth gaping in greedy anticipation. She hesitated momentarily, savouring the familiar exhilaration flowing through her.

‘Shit!’ The unexpected tremor of her phone vibrating in a pocket broke her concentration. The rod jolted, sending warnings down the line. Food a-plenty elsewhere, the fish turned languidly away from the bobbing dry fly.

“You’d better-come home love,” said the doctor, “He’s fading.”

She stole a final glance at the river, her eyes glistening with tears. But the wild brownie was long gone.



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