I FORGOT

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Wendy Hodge

By WENDY HODGE

Sunday morning is one of my favorite times of the week. My best friend and I have a delicious routine — we are up before the sun, we load our fishing gear and we drive the boat over deserted country roads lined with pastures and ponds, and arrive at the lake we love so much. It takes less than five minutes for us to get the boat from trailer to water. I back the boat down into the lake and untie it. Tim cranks the motor and gets the boat moving while I park the truck. Then he pulls up to the dock and I climb aboard. We’ve got it down like a well-rehearsed dance. 

But … every perfect routine goes wrong at some point. 

Today is another Sunday, and it has been raining for days. The boat is wet. The dock is wet. The whole world is soaking wet. The boat is in the water, and the truck is parked. I step gingerly into the boat, my phone in one hand and the keys in the other. And then … it all goes wrong. I forget how to walk and use my hands at the same time. 

The keys in my left hand somehow jump from my grasp, in a graceful arc above the water, and land with a loud PLINK in the lake below us. The sound of metal hitting water echoes. I can still hear it, in fact. PLINK. I gasp. Oh, what have I done? That’s our only key to the truck. There is no spare. How in the world can I fix this??

There is a boat tied up next to ours with two young men in full camo. They look ready for a survival reality show. Both of them gasp along with me. One shakes his head and says, “Wow, man. Really smooth.”

My heart has sunk to my feet. “I’m so sorry,” I manage to say, quiet as a whisper. But Tim is already headed to the truck. To drive back home and leave me behind? To get his gun and put me out of my misery?

He returns before I can picture any other nightmare scenarios. He’s got his fishing magnet with him. Luckily it was in the back of the truck and not locked inside. 

He helps me from the boat, and we stand side by side on the dock taking turns tossing the magnet into the lake, scraping it on the bottom, and pulling it back in. Over and over, we toss the line and retrieve it. And over and over, we pull back absolutely nothing. 

I am quietly crying by now and cannot find the words to fill the silence, only repeating “I’m so sorry” more times than I can count. 

Tim puts the line down on the dock and takes my face in his hands. “Stop apologizing,” he says. “Everything is going to be fine.” 

And then he kisses my forehead. I forgot the healing power of a kiss on the forehead from the man you love. There’s nothing else like it. 

I take a turn with the magnet, focusing in on the spot where I can still envision the keys slipping beneath the surface. And then, on the millionth try, I feel the vibration of metal against the magnet. I tug slowly and feel something moving on the end of the line. Hardly breathing, I pull the line out of the water at a snail’s pace.

And then the magnet breaks the surface, and there are the keys glinting in the mist. 

It isn’t until they are in my hands that I let out a huge sigh. Tim pulls me to him, and I can feel his smile against my cheek. “Best catch of the day already!” He holds up his hand for a high five, grinning and ready to go. 

I slide into my seat in the boat and feel myself shaking, still not breathing normally yet. 

“You okay?” he asks. 

“I will be,” I answer, trying to smile. 

“Look at me,” he says. Accidents happen.. What did you think I was going to do?”

“Be angry. Leave. Never bring me fishing again. The possibilities are endless,” I try to joke. 

“You should know better by now, Wendy. I’m not going to leave you. Ever. Just about everything is fixable, keys included.”

I forgot that Tim is the most easygoing person I’ve ever known. I forgot that anger is not a familiar emotion for him. I forgot that love, real love, comes from a deep well of patience and thoughtful understanding. I forgot that Tim has given me the gift of that kind of love. 

Thanks to a mishap on the lake, I don’t think I will soon forget what I have. 

It’s Sunday evening, and we have laughed all day at my clumsiness and my fear. We’ve celebrated my magnet fishing skills. And we’ve breathed sighs of relief that all turned out so well without the need for a locksmith on a Sunday morning. 

I took a picture of my keys dangling from the end of the magnet fishing line, and I’m going to frame that so that I can remind myself how very lucky I am. I wish everyone could find what we’ve found.

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