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Fiction

Hardly At All

Fourth in a series of short summer reads from Geist and The Tyee.

Ross Bragg 25 Jul 2007TheTyee.ca

"Hardly At All" won a second prize in the 3rd Annual Geist Literal Literary Postcard Story contest. The 4th annual Geist Literal Literary Postcard Story Contest is open and accepting submissions now.

Ross Bragg is a part-time producer at CBC Radio in Vancouver. He is working on Drunken E-mails, a collection of short stories.

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'It wasn't the lake or the loons. And it had nothing to do with the place they met'

I drank a litre of rye the morning you left and had my stomach pumped in Gravenhurst. The bastard who owned the jet ski found me, he saved my life. But I am better now and have a sleepy eye, which means I am more attractive and rarely live alone. And I guess we're even now 'cause I don't really think about you really at all. Maybe zero times. Maybe one time, but it doesn't count. Fishing for pickerel, but believe me it's not what you think. It wasn't the lake or the loons. And it had nothing to do with the place they met on the surface of the water. The reflection of the loon on the water and the reflection of the water in the loon's eyes, it had nothing to do with something like that. Trees had nothing to do with it either. Sorry, but it wasn't poetry on birchbark or whittled hot-dog sticks. Honestly, nothing about wood that's alive or dead or burning. And speaking of burning, it wasn't some kind of fire-related thing either, okay. Not a morning fire, or a kerosene lamp, or candle flames, or anything like that. It was just a tiny, stupid thing.

I had a nice, big juicy-looking pickerel in a pail of water in the bottom of the boat. The fish wasn't moving much because, I guessed, it had been out of the lake too long and exhausted whatever oxygen was there in that bit of water. Turns out the fish wasn't moving much because it was big and the pail wasn't and it was curled into a C by the pail. When I grabbed the thing it straightened quick and flipped out. It cut my thumb with its dorsal, left my hand, bounced off the gunwale and got away. Anyway, I thought of you for maybe half a second then. But it wasn't like some earth-shattering moment where the skies parted and I heard angels sing. It was nothing at all like that. It was just a tiny little bit of remembering and it was hardly anything at all.  [Tyee]

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