I teased the line with my fingers.
"Any bites yet?" Arnie asked.
The red and white bobber danced on the quiet surface. Hardly a ripple between us and the opposite rip-rap bank. We didn't speak for a half-hour or more. Lying back, squinting into fall sunlight, I caught a glimpse of a cardinal's flight between emerald and russet leaves.
"So, this was your grandparent's place?" Arnie reeled in his line and baitless hook. "Something got that damn worm and I never even felt it."
"The land belonged to my great grandfather. Grandparents inherited it. They lived here until Grandma passed away. Just before Grandpa died, he gave the place to my folks." I tugged lightly at my line. "Land around here stays with families for generations. Guess that's a good thing. I came to visit when I could. I loved to fish this pond. Small mouth bass, blue gills; always caught enough to make a nice fry. Doesn't look like that's going to happen today."
Arnie worked another worm onto his hook and cast the line. "Is that some kind of barn?"
His bobber stilled while I reeled mine in. "That's where they kept the tractor, feed, things like that. Needs a coat of paint. Dad finally hired a neighbor to keep things up after the house burned, but that was seven years ago. I keep thinking about putting the land up for sale, but I can't bring myself to it."
Arnie nodded and sighed just as his bobber ducked. He gave a quick tug and began reeling.
A moment later a nice size bass lay flopping on the bank, hooked though the upper lip.
"Well, it's big enough for a two person meal."
As late shadows fell, it took only a minute to pack our gear. We walked the path to Arnie's old pickup, tossed our stuff in the back, and I climbed into the cab.
"My place," he said. "I'll clean and cook the fish. You wash the dishes."
I was looking back at what we were leaving, heard Mom telling me the same thing. "Give me another minute," I asked Arnie, quieting that feeling of being touched by a hand I could no longer reach out to hold.
* * *