After the rain, the air grew scarce, so the worms crawled up to the surface by the hundreds. The boy was waiting for them, and as he scooped them up into the bait jar, he read a few: "mucus", "squamous", "maladroit", "slough". The largest worm read, "moist nugget". "Wow," the boy thought as it wriggled in his hand, "the fish will love that one."
Last night, when his father told him they'd go fishing today, the boy had been so excited. It would be his first trip outside since the hospital stay. Dad said the fresh air would do him good. The boy thought maybe he was right, and besides no one cooked fresh caught fish better than Dad did.
Wildflowers were blooming near the path back to the lake. "Quintessential", read a particularly large one. "Gossamer", "effervescent", and "palimpsest" grew nearby. The boy decided he would get some of these on the way back from fishing. Mom would love them. A blur of colorful wings fluttered through the blossoms and landed on his hand. "Tintinnabulation", it read. The boy watched it slowly flap for a moment, and then fly away.
His father waved from the pier when the boy got close. The boat was ready and they climbed aboard. The boy threaded "slough" onto a hook, and they headed out. Dad knew the best fishing spots.
The hospital had been no fun at all. The doctors wouldn't let him have any adjectives, just nouns, verbs and prepositions. They said all the modifiers had made him sick, and that he needed a more balanced diet. "I know you don't like it," said one of the nurses, "but dialogue is filled with pronouns and conjunctions that a growing story needs." He promised to do better, and the nurse patted him on the head.
The boy reeled in the first fish as fast as he could. He was so proud, but Dad said it was too small, and made him throw it back. "Sorry, kid," he said, "but that little guy's not worth cooking." The boy read the fish before he let it go,
Grass green. Sky blue.
That's all it said. He had to agree, it wasn't much. Another worm went on the hook, and the boy cast his line again.
River flows to the sea. Rough rocks wear smooth after years and years.
"Now, that's a nice fish, son", said Dad, "A few more like that and we'll be ready for dinner." The boy smiled. He had used "moist nugget" to catch this one. It had worked great.
Three catches later, they rowed back to shore. Dad cleaned the fish while the boy started a small campfire. Minutes later, coated in cornmeal and punctuation marks, the fish were sizzling away in a big iron skillet. They smelled wonderful, and the boy knew they would taste even better.
Mom had been in the hospital too, but she was sick with something worse, swollen with purple prose and green ink. The treatment wasn't working, and the doctors said they might have to do some extensive editing. Cutting out the unhealthy text was dangerous, but there weren't many options. Dad tried to reassure his son, but he couldn't hide how worried he was. The man was forty chapters long, but the weight on his shoulders made him look like a short story. The boy wasn't sure if he really believed in The Author, but said a short prayer anyway. There was little else he could do.
Hand in hand, the boy and his father walked back from the lake. They stopped on the side of the path where the wildflowers grew. "Dad," said the boy, "Let's get some of these for Mom." "Sure, son," the father replied, "She'll love them."
Later, the boy carefully arranged a handful of "gossamer" and "effervescent" on the neatly trimmed grass. "Don't you miss her, Dad?" he asked. "Sure I do, son," the man replied as he laid a bright red "quintessential" on the pile, "but every story, someday comes to an end."
The boy glanced down at the cut grass leaves. "Good—", read one of them. "—ve you", read another. A brilliant "tintinnabulation" fluttered by, and the boy watched it go. "Yeah," he sighed to his father, "I guess you're right."