He eyed it resting before him.
A rainbow trout, the crafts fair people had called it.
Really, a block of wood, seven jigsawed pieces cut along its length, seven brightly lit colors;
Shaped like a fish.
A gift, for her.
Focusing his eyes on nothing in particular, he ran the tip of a finger slowly back and forth along its surface.
Anticipation had, of late, been lending him its own beaming hues, its ardor and assurance...
Now, in an instant, he had found its promises empty.
The idea had barely entered into consciousness before it was gone.
He could conceive of reasons, but how could he be sure?
They hadn't spoken about it.
It was just...
He was struck by the roughness of the grain to his touch.
Roughness, concealed by night sky blue...
What was it that lingered?
Perhaps a lesson, about caution;
About how much can happen in a moment,
And how big a small, selfish lapse in judgment can be;
Perhaps, too, an unwilling memory,
and a reluctant resolution
to raise again
one's weary guard.
Lifting it, he placed it gently down into the suitcase,
its vivid colors contrasting sharply with the earthen tones and whites around it.
He reflected momentarily on this, then covered it with a folded pair of jeans.
It was, after all, just a block of wood.
© Ouija Cat 9/9/98