Was this the catch of a lifetime?
“One goldfish.” Henry released the finger length creature from the church carnival bag into a splash of water. Sun bright sparkles flashed across the surface as its tail whipped side to side. It dove to the bottom of the glass filled globe he held out.
“Whatcha’ going to name it kid?” How he loved the look on a kid’s face when they saw their prize coming at them. “You fished for it and now it’s yours.”
His head just topped the old blanket tied between two trees. He, standing behind it, the kid holding a stick with a string on the other side.
They called it fishing but it was the surprise on the other end of the string that he was really fishing for, hook, line, and sinker. The look on the kid's face melted his heart.
It was the oldest gig in the church annual fundraiser. It never failed to collect more money than his old hat could hold.
Henry had volunteered for the event far too many years in a row than he wanted to count. This was the first year he’d convinced the pastor to give out real pet fish along instead of the ten cent trash that usually was left around the church grounds.
This year they’d charged more and gotten more in return than ever before. The packets of fish food cost extra and were flying off the table faster than a winged flock of birds.
“Henry.” Spoke a maternal voice approaching where the kid stood holding the fishbowl. “That’s what we’ll name him and Henry he is.”
“After all this time.” Henry sputtered, his eyes going shiny. The hook had been set and he reeled in with his mouth a gaping.
Henrietta Spring only smiled and winked with that devil may care way she had of turning her head. It was as if not a moment had passed instead of the years flowing by between then and now. She was as lovely as ever. Though she now wore silver instead of the yellow gold hair she’d worn when they first met.
“Don’t spill it, boy. Give me a moment with this fool. He’s meant to be fooled around with flapping his gills in the air before I land him a final time.”
“O.K., Auntie Mom.” The boy’s eyes were big and round. His nose pressed up against the fishbowl with the nose of the little goldfish pressed against the glass on the other side.
“Are you here to stay?” Henry heard the catch in his throat as his heart was left dangling in mid-air.
“My missionary duties are all used up. Seems I’ve been put out to pasture. I’m newly retired, Henry. Did I surprise you?” The twinkle in her eyes matched the sun-drenched reflection in the fishbowl in her grandson’s hands.
She might be fishing for compliments if so, she'd caught more than she'd bargained for. He felt more like a beached whale.
“Your last letter took weeks getting here, my dear friend.” Henry found himself grasping the woman’s hands without knowing how he’d got there. “It said nothing about you returning home.”
“I had a thing or two to do before coming back. There were loose ends to tie up. Now I’m off the hook. Are you, Henry? Or do you still want to fish in the sea?”
There had been talk in the letters between the two of maybe trying to kindle the old romance but nothing firm had been set. Their lives had only hinted at the feelings behind the lines in their letters. They were to tied up with their missionary work to romance each other.
The warm and welcome surprise on each other’s faces showed these two fishers of men, each newly released from their holy callings, had now met their final catch of the day.
Their looks of enraptured surprise more than matched that of the boy with his fishbowl prize walking at their side.