"It's like this, " Jake said, casting his line into the bay. He swallowed once, then ran a hand through his hair. The line hit the water like an exclamation point. "Your mom's leaving me."
I turned away. The silken fishing line glinted in the sun. "I know," I mumbled. "I'm not stupid."
"No, you're not," he said. "In fact, you're too smart for your own good." He reached into his front pocket, pulled out a Camel. With a practiced flourish, he lit the end, and passed it.
The smoke burned my throat. "Of course she's sending you clean up her mess," I said.
He shook his head. "What else is new?"
Nothing was new. Mom stepped out on Jake, and he put up with it. Same fucking story. Last week I saw her in action. From the back of the school bus, of all places. We were driving past the Fastop, and there she was, straddling some guy's motorcycle. Big loser guy with long blond hair. She was laughing, wearing a top with her tits falling out. So fucking disrespectful.
And Jake just took it. He put food on her table and raised me and my brother, all the while smelling another man's stink. And now, since she's found her next Prince Charming, I guess it's out with Jake, in with the newest step-dad.
Which sucks. Jake at least took me fishing and passed his cigs. He talked to me, instead of hollering like Mom. I stubbed out my butt. "I think the fish got your line."
"Little fucker," he said, gripping his own cigarette between his back teeth. "You know none of this is your fault." He reeled in the line, and released it again in one seamless motion.
I watched an osprey flying to its nest, a flapping fish crushed in its beak. Those birds manage to mate for life. My stomach twisted, looking at it "Of course it's not my fault my mom's a fucking whore."
"Watch your mouth, boy." He leaned in, and I could smell the Michelob on his breath. "She may not be perfect but--" his eyes darted to his feet, "she's what you've got. She's all you got."Our eyes caught, and I understood exactly what he was saying.
"Yes sir." I watched the waves lap up against the pier, smacking the weathered wood. I choked on each weighted syllable.
"So, I'll see you around, right?" he lied. "Maybe go fishing?"
I couldn't stand to look at him. "Sure," I said, "You know the number."
I knew he would never call. And that our connection would snap, like a fishing line. It would sink into the waters, soundless and forgotten.
We're writing about heartbreak at Write on Edge.