The end of the school year came and went, and Bridie and I found ourselves no longer teenagers but newly graduated young adults. Since we were children my sister had always been independent, so I was only mildly surprised when she wanted to move out only a few months after our eighteenth birthday. Mum, on the other hand, was less accepting of the idea, and cried when Bridie broke the news. Our brother hadn’t moved out until he was married, so I guess our parents were expecting Bridie to hang around longer as well.
On the morning of the move, Mum hugged and kissed Bridie like she hadn’t in years, and made her promise to call and visit often. Even though she hadn’t been around that much when we were kids, it was obvious that Mum still loved us more than anything.
After saying goodbye to Mum and Dad, Bridie came outside to join me where I had been helping to load her belongings into the moving van. We had never been overly close like some twins, but the bond was there all the same. I pulled my sister into my arms and hugged her tightly.
“Promise you’ll call?”
“I promise.” She pulled away and grinned at me. “See you around, sis.”
I watched her step into her car and drive off with a final wave. I waved back, standing at the curb and looking after her until the car disappeared over the crest of the hill and she was gone. I hadn’t realised until now how much I would miss my twin when she left, and the bunk bed I slept in that night felt terribly lonely without her.
Although I missed my sister, I had too many other things to worry about for my loneliness to take much of a hold. The best thing about being out of school, in my opinion, was all the free time I now had to do other things – namely, fishing. I was down at the beach every other day, even when James and Tyler weren’t around to join me. I had already learned a lot from both research and experience, and could identify almost every species of fish I caught as well as the best bait for luring each one.
For a while now I had been wondering if I could possibly make a living from it. I never had much interest in going to university, or getting a job as a doctor or teacher. The only thing I really enjoyed enough to make a career of it was fishing. I had found out that I could register at City Hall to become self-employed, which meant that I could officially make an income from selling the fish I caught. After I graduated, I decided that that was what I really wanted to do. The pay wouldn’t be that great, but I was happy to live a bit simply if it meant I could be fishing every day for the rest of my life.
I took a taxi down to City Hall one evening to register. The process was easier than I had expected; I just had to sign a few papers and it was done. They didn’t even ask for proof that I was good at what I did, to make sure that I really could do it as a job. It didn’t matter though, I knew that I could make it. As of that night, I was officially a professional angler.
My next stop was the bookshop a few blocks away, where I bought all the books they had on fishing. If I was going to do this seriously, I needed all the extra knowledge I could get. I spent the next few days at home, reading up on the different types of fish, where they could be found and what kinds of bait were most effective. Even though I already knew a lot just from experience, there was a wealth of new information in the books that I knew would be useful.
One of the smaller books, “The Angler’s Guide to Bridgeport”, listed in detail all the best fishing spots in the city, and the types of fish that could be found at each one. Some of the places I had never even known existed, and I was resolved to check out each one.
One of the best spots I found was in the rocky hills on the other side of the bridge, which were full of convenient spaces to stand for fishing in the harbour. The fish here were different to the ones at the beach, and with all the new tips I had learned I was able to catch several different species I hadn’t even known could be caught.
It was here that I caught my first perfect fish – a silver minnow. I didn’t kill her, but instead kept her in a bowl in my room at home, and made sure to feed her every day. I was too proud of this catch to sell it; I wanted to keep all my best fish.
At the same time, I was still planning to build a pond at home someday, and I had to keep some fish to stock it as well. Between all the plans I had for my fish, I wasn’t making very much money being self-employed yet. Luckily, Mum and Dad were both still working, so we could comfortably afford to pay the bills. I hoped that I could make enough soon to help them out, since neither of them were getting any younger.
The beach was still my favourite spot for both fishing and hanging out with friends, and I was down there every day doing one or the other. James and Tyler were there sometimes, and our meetings became even more frequent as the weather grew hotter and the days grew longer. There were different fish to be caught at this time of year and the wind off the sea kept the beach relatively cool, which was why I was to be found at the beach with my fishing gear, and not at the local pool, when it came to one of the hottest days that Summer had to offer.
The fish that day had been frustratingly inactive, and I hadn’t made a catch all morning. By the time noon rolled around I was just about ready to give up and go home, when I heard the noise of a familiar child’s laughter echoing off the cliffs behind me. My spirits lifted at the sound… perhaps I wouldn’t be going home just yet. I turned around to meet Tyler, who was running towards me across the scorching sand.
“Bianca!” she exclaimed happily when she reached me, slightly out of breath. “We thought you might be here! Isn’t it hot today? James said that we could go for a swim because it’s so hot, so I brought my swimmers. Did you?”
As it happened, the same idea had occurred to me, so I had dressed with my swimsuit underneath my clothes in case I had felt like a swim later on. I told Tyler so, and her face lit up.
“So we can go swimming all together then? Yessss!” I laughed as she jumped up and down in front of me, completely overexcited. When James reached us, she lost no time in relaying the good news to him. “James! Bianca says she has her swimmers as well, so we can all swim together now!”
“That’s awesome, Ty,” he laughed, then turned to me. “Hey, Bianca. Good to see you again.”
“You too, James,” I smiled, pulling him into a hug.
“Hurry up, you guys!” Tyler called from the water’s edge, where she was already undressing to go into the water.
James and I exchanged a look, and we both started laughing. “Coming!” I yelled. I started to jog towards her, while James followed closely behind me.
The heat by this point was close to unbearable, even with the sea breeze, so it didn’t take us long to change and join Tyler in the water.
The sea was blissfully cool. I felt more relaxed the moment the water hit my toes, and I was more than glad that I hadn’t decided to go home earlier. I didn’t check what the others were doing, but I guessed that they were enjoying the sensation like I was. That is, until a wave of salty water hit me square in the face and my eyes shot open. I gasped and spluttered furiously, looking around for the culprit. My eyes landed on James, who was treading water a few feet away and grinning.
“James Vistden!” I yelled his name accusingly. He just laughed, so I drew my hand back and sent a retaliatory splash of water in his direction.
An all-out splash war soon escalated between the two of us. Eventually, Tyler got fed up with us both and swam away, announcing that she was going down the other end of the beach to look for turtles. By that point both James and I were breathless and worn out, so we stopped splashing and just trod water while we talked.
“Do you know what you want to do, now that we’re out of school?” James asked me.
“Yeah, I already registered at City Hall the other day. I’m going to be a professional angler, and sell my fish for a living,” I told him happily.
“That’s awesome, Bee!” ‘Bee’ was my new nickname, courtesy of James and Tyler. I’d never had a nickname from anyone before, but I have to admit I kind of liked it – it was cute.
“What about you?” I asked him.
“Well, I got a part-time job as an assistant chef at the bistro a few months back, trying to earn some extra money as a student, you know.” I nodded, and he went on, “I actually really enjoyed it, and I’m hoping they’ll keep me on so I can maybe make a career out of it.”
So James wanted to be a chef! “I didn’t even know you could cook,” I said in surprise.
“Oh yeah, I’m pretty excellent,” he said with a playful grin.
“And modest, too,” I added, and we both laughed.
“Come on, you guys!” Tyler yelled from the beach. It looked as if she had gotten bored of turtles already.
I looked at James, and he nodded. “We should probably get out too.”
I started to wade towards the shore and on to the hot sand, heading for the spot just above the waterline where Tyler was waiting. “Find any turtles?” I asked when I reached her.
“Nah.” She sounded disappointed. “But I did find a few cool fish. I hope you don’t catch those ones, they’re too pretty.”
I couldn’t really be sure that I had never caught the fish she described, so I quickly changed the topic.
“Hey, you know James and I are graduating next week?”
She looked confused. “I thought you already graduated.”
“Yeah, but this is the graduation ceremony, where we get our diplomas,” I explained. “James is going to be there, right?”
“He didn’t say anything about it,” she said. “I’ll go ask him!”
I watched her run over to her brother, who had gotten out of the water on the other side of the beach. Perhaps he had been looking for turtles as well. When Tyler reached him, they started talking, but I couldn’t hear what they said.
I started to put my clothes back on as I waited for Tyler, all the while thinking about what she had said. Why wouldn’t James have mentioned the ceremony? Surely he wasn’t thinking of missing it. James wasn’t usually the kind of guy to miss something that important. He was a good student, so there was no reason why he wouldn’t want his family to be there as far as I could tell. I knew it was probably nothing big, and it was none of my business regardless, but… I still couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something about him that James was intentionally not telling me.