The Close Season

The room was in darkness, the only light off in one corner highlighting the figure sitting in front of it. He moved slightly in his chair as he moved the items on the desk in front of him. His thoughts were elsewhere as he raised his head and listened to the wind and rain that rattled the window next to him. They were in a tent high in a corrie where he had fished all day for the inhabitants of the loch outside the door. He could hear the ravens as they laughed at him from their lofty refuge high above him; the singing of a lark; the site of an eagle as it floated by on a thermal.

He turned back to the desk in front of him and lifted the reel that he had stripped down and greased. Putting it away in its bag until spring when it would again sing to the pull of a trout. He lifted the flybox that lay next to it, opened it and checked each hook for rust, each tying for blemishes or loose materials. Again, he was transported to another place, another time. He remembered the rise of a trout to this fly; the pull of a trout on that one; the fight of the trout on the next. He made a mental note of the spaces; he would be busy this close season, but not now, the tying would begin later.

He put the box down beside the vice where it would be within reach when that time came. He felt the heat of the lamp on his skin, more memories. It was high summer with a river flowing gently in front of him. He watched as the fish rose just under the far bank. Judging his distance, he cast the thistle down dry fly just above the last rise. It landed just right, he watched with nerves taught as it slowly passed the position of the rising fish. In slow motion, he saw it rise through the clear water, pause with the fly on the end of its nose, then slowly suck it in and turn down. Raising his arm, he felt the weight of it as the line tightened. He played it and brought it quickly to his side. He admired the beauty of its form; the sleek body; the markings; its colouring; then returned it carefully back to the world it had come from. He remembered the sun on his skin as he climbed to the secret lochs where few people ventured, where the fish were few but willing. The sound of a million insect wings hummed in his ears and the horizon shimmered in the heat. There was a noise, he turned, he was still in the darkened room and the hum was the sound of the central heating pump as it distributed the heat around the house.

He moved his hand away and as he did, it touched the small object lying on the desk. Immediately the blank screen in front of him burst with light. He placed his hand over the mouse and as it moved, the little arrow on the screen moved across the many small pictures that appeared there. It paused and he clicked the button. After a short pause another window opened, the arrow moved to the top and as it covered another small picture, he pressed the button again. Yet another window appeared full of small pictures, he clicked on one. The window disappeared and the first window filled with the view from some high mountain to some distant lochs. Moving the scroll button another picture took its place, then another and yet another, more memories of times and places. He closed the pictures, there would be plenty of time to look at them, fix them and sort them, as the cold dark nights stretched out in front of him.

The little arrow on the screen moved again, hovered over another icon and his finger clicked the button. Almost immediately the screen was full of lines and squares, there were little pictures and words. The words were headings; he clicked on one 'REPORTS'. Another window, more boxes, more words even more headings. The little arrow moved and hovered here and there like a Mayfly on the stream. It stopped, he clicked again, the window opened and he began to read; New Zealand browns and rainbows; the journey; the company. He had never been to New Zealand but through others he could be transported anywhere. He closed the window. The arrow hovered over another box and he clicked again. This time it was Canada, and then it was a loch in Wales, then Scotland now England. The places only limited by where others had been.

In time he closed all the windows, the screen went black as he switched it off and he reached over and switched off the light. In the darkness, he rose, and as he did he thought, "Maybe the close season won't seem quite as long after all."



2008 Alexander Birrell
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