Fishing Deere

[dropcap]I[/dropcap] could hear her sputtering down the road. It sounded like she was riding a residential lawnmower. I squinted into the distance.

That’s exactly what she was riding.

She wore a bikini top and had a cigarette balanced between her lips. Three fishing rods dangled from the back of the dilapidated John Deere. She rolled up slow, then parked beside the boat launch. The kayakers all gave her funny looks.

She paid them no mind.

The girl watched me hoist the mainsail of my boat. She was young, with rough leathery skin. Covered in tattoos. Much too worn out to be pretty; too pretty to be so worn out. In the short time it took me to rig my boat, she must’ve burned through eight cigarettes.

“Nice wheels.” I nodded toward her lawnmower.

“Oh, that?” She laughed. “It belongs to the rehab. They let me drive it down here to go fishing.”

I never learned her name, but she’s been living at that women’s rehab for six months. Before that, Walton County Prison. Three years. “Prison ain’t so bad,” she explained. “The only bad part is the hard-ass work.”

Sounds marvelous.

“Yeah,” she said. “You learn a lot about yourself in prison. You think a lot.”

She lit another cigarette. “Hell, I’m a country girl from Freeport. All I could think about in prison was going fishing. It reminds me of my daddy.”

“Is your daddy a fisherman?”

“Was,” she said. “He died while I was inside.” She flashed a fake smile.

It wasn’t any of my business.

But I’m glad she’s got that lawnmower.

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