Portion of the Sea

Portion of the Sea by Christine Lemmon

Book: Portion of the Sea by Christine Lemmon Read Free Book Online
Authors: Christine Lemmon
God, my daddy would make a fortune if he produced gin droplets from his eyes.
    “You did it,” I said, choking back my own tears, for seeing Stewart, tenacious as a hemp plant, holding a silver fish of that magnitude over his head as if it were the ark of the Lord’s covenant, made me believe that anything at all was possible. “What a merry thing!” I declared.
    “I’ve never killed anything like this before, blossom,” he finally said to me.
    “It’s a fish,” muttered Dahlia, her head lifting from the pillow slightly.
    “You’ve never killed a fish before?”
    “Not one I loved,” said Stewart, lowering it into a cradle position in his arms. “I’ve got more respect for it than I’ve ever had for any person.”
    “Looks like you love it more than your own family, your wife,” stated Dahlia.
    I heard footsteps entering the study hall, and when I looked up to see the principal coming my way, I quickly slid my history textbook over Ava’s journal and pretended to read about the Spanish Civil War. Mr. Smith stopped walking and placed a note from the office on my desk. It read:
Your father called. Just wanted to confirm you arrived safely to school. Thought you might like to know .
    Surely Lloyd must have found out that I refused to ride the limo this morning, that I was tardy for school, and that I lied to the secretary about our plane arriving this morning and the limo breaking down. But his note gave no indication of any concern. A part of me longed for a father who might stomp right over to school and address such issues with me, and I felt tears welling up in my eyes. I thought of Stewart loving that fish more than his family, and I only hoped my father didn’t love his work more than me. But I thought he did.
    I needed solace as I pulled the journal out from under the textbook and went on reading:
    I watched Stewart, scraggly-looking, wobble across the room toward the end of Dahlia and Abigail’s bed where they had the sheet pulled up to their eyes to escape the smell. “You weren’t bit by anything, Daddy, a raccoon, dog?” I asked, watching him set the fish down on the bed, near their toes. “Because you’re moving like you’re rabid.”
    “Drunk, Ava. He’s drunk,” corrected Dahlia.
    “In God’s name, Stewart Witherton, get that stinking fish off our bed!”
    Abigail opened her eyes and looked at him as if she wanted to grab him by his delicate antennae and drop him in a pot of boiling water, and I knew she too had smelled gin in his tears.
    “But look at the size of it. One hundred and fifty pounds,” he said, wiping the sweat from his face. “I’ve decided to preserve it, give it eternal life mounted on this board. You like it?”
    “Yes,” I said, thrilled to see him holding in his hands a fish that was more than a fish. To me it represented accomplishment. Stewart achieved what we all had feared he couldn’t. He did it, and now he stood before us gleaming with pride. I grabbed a cloth and dabbed it at my father’s handsthat were covered with scabs.
    “Ava, shut that door and get into bed,” jabbed my mother. “Now that your father is back, we’re homesteading in the morning, and we all need our sleep.”
    I climbed into bed, and Dahlia slipped out of her bed to join me in mine. Stewart then got into bed with Mama.
    I lay in bed thinking of all the good that has happened. If Stewart could catch that fish, then maybe there were other things possible. Maybe things I could do with my life that I thought were impossible. I thought about the island. I had never known such beauty existed, but now I wondered whether there might be other forms of unknown beauty out there in the world. And maybe there was an oasis of hidden beauty deep within my own self, waiting to get discovered.
    “Grandmalia,” I whispered.
    “Go to sleep,” she said.
    “I will, but there’s something I want to tell you.”
    “Doesn’t your tongue ever tire? What is it?”
    “I want to be

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