View Full Version : Comfort

April 28th, 2014, 10:13 PM
The two men descended carefully down the hill towards the lake. Their gear
bounced and shifted, as they shielded their eyes from the early morning sun. Thousands
of tiny flashes flared, winked, then reappeared on the lake's dark blue surface. Neither
man spoke, but both huffed and struggled to stifle a profane utterance as straps dug and
bags rubbed.

"Next time, the horses come all the way down to the shore with us," the larger
man wheezed.

"Even you're not that reckless, Ibram," the shorter man managed a shrug, "You
would risk twisting your steed's leg? Just because you're lazy..."

Ibram bristled and almost stopped, but maintained his descent. "Kai, you know
that I work harder, and longer hours than anyone else in The Guild."

"My apologies, friend. I do know that." The men neared the shore, shortening
their strides, and shifting their gear. Kai continued, "As a matter of fact, I am surprised
that you took the day off for this."

Ibram dropped his gear, threw his hands to his waist, and spun slowly. "I think
this will do." Kai nodded and lowered his bags to the sandy ground. Ibram bent slightly
to Kai, drawing close to speak, "Y'know, Jain loves bonefish. If I catch some today, she
will be happy..."

"...and if the wife is happy, we're all happy. I know," Kai finished. "Convenient
excuse as any, I suppose. Although, if you are honest with yourself, you need to fish
more than Jain needs fish."

Ibram was already assembling his pole and surveying the lake surface. "Time to
stop talking and start fishing..." His bony, tan finger pointed to a smooth cove to their
left, "There! That's where they are!"

Kai shook his head and smiled. He slowly began to assemble and string his pole.
Kai noticed Ibram wince once or twice as he threaded his line. He lowered his pole and
took a step toward Ibram.

"Is your arthritis affecting you?" Kai asked, "If it is, I can help you..."

"Don't be absurd! It's just part of aging. Now, if you want to bait my hook, I'd
trust you to do that." Kai took a step back, shook his head and snickered.

"Bait your own hook, you crusty old goat."


The sun reflected lazily off the lake later that morning. A gentile breeze kicked-
up dust from the trail behind the two men. They sat on their woven mats, with their poles
just within reach on small wooden props. A nearby tree provided partial shade and
dropped an occasional leaf or two. Ibram began to squirm, adjusting himself frequently.
Kai glanced to his right, up the hill.

"If you need to relive yourself, that looks like a good place up there."

Ibram grimaced and shuffled once again. "It's this cursed mat," he explained, "it's
too thin. I should have bought a thicker one."

Without hesitation, Kai stood up and began picking up his mat, "You will use
mine then. I enjoy sitting in the warm sand."

Ibram was already up, shaking his head, "No, no, my friend. That would not be
right. I work hard, and I have the toman in my account to spend." He dusted off his
pants and looked up the hill. "The Mercado is only a couple of kilometers away. I'll
pick-up a new mat and be back in no-time." As Kai opened his mouth in protest, Ibram
grabbed his arm gently and smiled, "I will be quick, I promise. Just don't clean out the
lake while I'm gone."

Kai opened his mouth again, but Ibram was already trudging up the hill.
"Well, at least bring back some dried dates or some quince wine. Don't dally."

The sun had moved past midday and was well into afternoon. Kai had just eaten
his sandwich and checked his pole again. They were in no danger of running out of
worms, as the fish certainly were not going after them. Kai though he had heard Ibram's
horse a few times, but it turned out just to be the wind in the trees. He began to pace, as
worry creases crossed Kai's face. Kai walked up to the top of the hill, to check on his
horse. At least that's what he told himself. As he gave his mare some oats, he thought
about mounting-up and going to check on Ibram.

He thought better of it. He knew Ibram was alright. He though that he was
being impatient, and that he should just relax and enjoy the day. Kai patted his grey mare
on the rump, and made his way back down the hill.

The water on the lake had darkened as the sun slipped behind the trees. Kai heard
some rocks behind him bounce and roll along the trail.


Kai leapt up and ran to him. He gave his friend a brief, awkward hug, and then
stepped back. The smile slipped from Kai's face as he regarded Ibram.
"Are you alright?"

Ibram shrugged, and averted his gaze, "I'm so sorry, my friend." He was carrying
a new, colorful, thick mat, and threw it on the sand. "The first shop did not have a mat I
liked, so I went to a second. By the time I purchased my mat, I ran into an associate from
work. He insisted we had tea while he discussed our current project. Then tea turned
into lunch. Then he introduced me to a client..." Ibram sighed, his shoulders drooping.
"I could not be rude and break away. And all the while I was worried about leaving you

Kai grasped Ibram's arm, then patted him on the back. "My day wasn't so bad. I
napped after lunch, saw a pair of eagles fishing at the far end of the lake, and watched a
beaver work on his dam. The sun and sand were warm, and the breeze was refreshing,"
Kai paused, involuntarily frowning, "It's just, it all would have been better if you were
here to share it with me."

Ibram growled and kicked his new mat, twice. "IF you ever decide to go fishing
with me again, I promise to never take off like that again. How can I be so thick
headed?" He took a deep breath, exhaling slowly. "The worst part is, I didn't even catch
a bonefish for Jain."

As Ibram glared at his mat, he went to retrieve the rest of his gear. He did not see
Kai grab his stringer from the lake and walk towards him.

"As it turns out," Kai explained, "the fish here like the late afternoon better, it
seems." Kai held up two fish in front of Ibram. "I want you to have one."
Ibram dropped his gear, and stammered.

"I... but... you..." he blinked and wiped his face, "There are four of you in your
house. One fish won't feed all of you..."

"Of course not. But we have some lamb left over. And the kids aren't crazy about
fish anyway." Without hesitation, Kai opened Ibram's tackle box and placed the larger
fish in it. Kai moved to within a few inches of Ibram's face, "You need to learn how to
relax. I love you like a brother, but I swear I want to strike you hard at times."

Ibram shouldered his bags meekly. With a wan smile, he told Kai, "At least Jain
won't smack me tonight, thanks to you. I think she hit's harder."

The two men walked up the trail as the light faded around them. Kai stopped part
way up, catching his breath.
"At least tell me," Kai gasped, "that you picked-up that quince wine while you
were at the market."

"I did. And I gave it to my client at lunch."

"Y'know, that smack from me is still not out of the question."

"At least wait until we get to the top of the hill, friend."

April 29th, 2014, 02:05 AM
Hi Winston -

Enjoyed this and felt like there's a good mix of dialogue, action, and description happening. Wanted for maybe a bit more speedy pacing or something in the middle bit, when Ibram is heading out and leaving Kai sitting there. Good, surreal setting, though, and a very upbeat atmosphere. I like my stuff dark, so I kept wanting Kai to internalize some venomous thoughts about what Ibram was up to, or maybe have him be pissed upon his return. As it happens, it ends on a very upbeat note, and maybe renders the piece a little drab overall. Still, it's pretty well written and smooth enough flow to keep me going.

There are a few mistakes in the Spag, but nothing a quick sweep can't fix (relive vs. relieve, gentile vs. gentle, just off the top of my head). I like the choice of names you've used here, too. Thanks for sharing this.