Rising to the Bait by Lisa Lepovetsky

He wakes her in the hours before sunlight
when even breathing seems too noisy,
and he carries her gear to the car,
her protests swallowed by tongues of fog.
He drives silently, quickly to the lake.

As he rows to the right spot, she tries
to speak before the sun spoils her chance,
but he hisses from across the boat that
she’ll chase the Big One away. So she
opens the thermos, burning her tongue on coffee.

He finds his secret cove and stows the oars.
Peering through dawn’s first fiery ripples
he imagines the Big One below, curling her
speckled length around and around herself,
devouring her own wake as she waits for him.

He feels the water crawl over that dorsal thrust,
a spiny flag flown straight in amber light,
thick lips pouting rhythmically with gills
translucent and feathered just behind
her head, proud, kinetic as a silver bullet.

His pole presses dents into the familiar
ridges and troughs of his rough palms as he
waits, patient, drifting like fog on the water.
He knows she’ll come. Expanding bullseyes
pulse from the leader like a watery heartbeat.

Suddenly, nylon plunges through metal eyelets,
uncoiling with a thin scream, leaping from
his reel to disappear into the refracted world
below. He hesitates less than a fly’s breath,
testing the moment before him, then looks up

finding the eyes of the woman he brought along
as though he never saw her before. He jerks
the rod once hard, to set the metal hook deep
into the fish’s bony jaw, and smiling, he begins.
He slowly draws the Big One through liquid air.

The woman stands in the boat, her knees trembling
like kelp, heart hammering against her tongue.
He continues to smile at her as the Big One rises
from the waters like a goddess, her eyes hungry,
her mouth just large enough to hold a woman’s head.

Lisa Lepovetsky has published widely in the dark fantasy and mystery genres, in both magazines and anthologies. Her paranormal romantic suspense novel Shadows on the Bayou was published in 2005. She earned her MFA from Penn State, and has frequently taught writing and literature classes for them and the U. of Pittsburgh. She lives in northwestern Pennsylvania with her husband and dog.

Previous                                                                            Issue Eighteen                                                                            Next