The Catch

by Ledlowe Guthrie

Mam had packed the lunch box: a bottle of lemonade, a scotch egg and an apple.

I’d borrowed Melanie’s tights to put under my jeans. They were on the chair at the foot of my bed: anorak on the bottom, jumpers and trousers in the middle, underpants and vest on top.

‘What’ll you do?’ asked Melanie, after Mam had said goodnight.

‘I reckon we’ll be pulling up lobster pots, emptying them, and putting fresh bait in,’ I said.

‘What’s bait?’ she asked.

‘Oh you know, fish heads and tails, rotting flesh, blood and guts. The stuff that lobsters can smell.’

‘What, and you have to touch it?’

‘Yeah. How else will it get into the pot?’

‘Have you ever had lobster?’ she asked.

‘Loads of times. And Uncle Bill says I can bring one back for tea. It’s excellent, you have to hit the shell with a hammer to get the flesh out.’

‘God, that sounds gross.’

‘Right, well you can stop talking now ‘cos I have to be up soon.’

Melanie didn’t really get it. And I was pleased she wasn’t allowed to come. She’d probably get seasick or something girlie like that.

From the back of my top drawer I pulled a small bundle and carefully opened the folded tissue. The yellowing fob compass looked as old as old. I turned it over again and again feeling the engraving lines cutting across its worn surface.

‘Whale bone,’ he had said. ‘I am a hunter. I am a fisherman. It’s in our blood.’

I pushed it under my pillow. Tomorrow, I thought, I will also be able to say; “I am a fisherman, it’s in my blood.”

*

The stinking mouth and jagged teeth of the Great White were just close enough to touch when the alarm interrupted the action. I leapt out of bed ninja style, dressed in seconds and pushed the compass deep into my pocket.

The moonlit street was still and quiet. The car doors clanged and mam had to turn the engine a couple of times before it got going.

‘4 o’clock, are you sure?’ asked mam.

‘You’ve only asked me that hundreds of times. Yes! He said 4 o’clock.’

Along empty roads, trees and strange creatures loomed in the headlights. My stomach churned as I peered out of the window desperate for a first glimpse of the sea.

‘I see him, I see him,’ I cried, catching sight of Uncle Bill’s little fishing boat right at the water’s edge.

As we picked up speed down the slope, Uncle Bill’s boat began to move and my heart pounded like a bird in a net. I scrambled out of the car and ran, waving, towards the sea. Eventually the boat slowed.

My shallow breath began to calm as I waited, the waves breaking over my boots. But I gulped back hot tears and squeezed the fob tighter in my pocket, as the boat picked up speed and headed into the open water.

-

Ledlowe Guthrie takes photographs and mooches around in woods, cemeteries and disused areas of Sheffield, where she is studying for an MA in Writing at Hallam University.

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