Sun Lakes Writers’ Group

Born a Boat

Gary Mentze

Now that summer had arrived, the tall, snowy mountains began to drip like giant ice cream cones. At first, these drips of water playfully slid down each mountain’s face. But as thousands of drips tumbled faster and faster down the hill, thunderous streams of water were created.

This torrent of water spilled into the Cattail River in the valley below. At this point, the Cattail River looked more like a lake. Slowly, the water waddled across the valley.

Beside the river bank, standing tall, stood a large red building with three tall white chimneys. This building was Mr. Odell’s boat factory. If you were near the factory, you would hear the constant WHIRR and HUMM of great machines crafting another boat.

I was born in this factory; my life started when I splashed into the Cattail River. On my first day in the river, Mr. Odell stepped briskly down the factory-dock and stepped onto my bow. A tall, leather-skinned man with soft, gentle eyes.

He pulled sharply on my start-rope; instantly, my motor jumped to life with a loud, “PUTT-PUTT-BRRROO-MMMMM.” We traveled up and down the river, cutting S-shaped paths in the water. When we returned to the dock, Mr. Odell cheerfully announced, “A fine boat; she’s ready to go!”

I wondered, “But where will I go?” Hearing a soft melody, I looked up and saw, perched among the cattail reeds, a yellow-capped blackbird singing to the river.

Three days later, Mr. Odell walked down the factory-dock talking to a short, stout man who appeared to be as thick as a tree trunk. Mr. Odell said matter-of-factly, “Mr. Oatman, you will be very pleased if you choose this boat.”

Mr. Oatman did choose me. I was placed on a trailer and towed to a large lake surrounded by many tall green trees. While I looked at the lake, I sensed relief washing over me as I understood I would soon know my purpose and my design.

Early in the morning, we sped across the lake and then stopped by a large group of logs. I was surprised when I was tied with a rope to one of the logs. I was very surprised when we tried to pull this massive log. I tried my best, but the log would not budge.

Mr. Oatman frowned, saying, “Why can’t I pull this log?”

My heart, in response, whispered softly, “Something is wrong—this I know.”

Next, Mr. Oatman loaded me with large rocks. With each rock added, my nose tipped up higher and higher, pointing to the sky.

Mr. Oatman muttered, “This is not working either.”

My heart spoke again, saying, “Something is wrong—this I know.”

At the end of the day, cutting a direct path through the lake, Mr. Oatman was visibly not pleased; his focused thought had birthed a grimaced stare. As we neared the boat dock, my engine was turned off. Silently, we glided to my mooring. I watched Mr. Oatman tie my rope to the dock and then slowly walk to his little brown house on the hill. My heart ached, knowing I had failed Mr. Oatman.

The next day, a beautiful sunny day, seven men came to the dock. Mr. Oatman warmly greeted them, saying, “Get in my boat, and we will go to the other shore.” All seven men came aboard but had to stand. All seven men complained, “Where can I sit?” No one was pleased with me.

My heart spoke in small, hurt tones, “Something is very wrong—this I know.”

At the end of the day, speeding across the lake, Mr. Oatman mumbled in a somber way, “This little boat cannot pull or carry much at all. This is not working; this is not working at all.” I too was disappointed and pondered many questions, such as, “What is my design? What is my purpose? Why did he pick me?”

At the dock, Mr. Oatman placed a sign near my bow. It read, “BOAT FOR SALE.” I was stunned to see that I would be sold. Reaching deep, I asked my heart to speak, and the response was very direct: “No, you have not failed; you have a design and purpose—this I know.”

The next day, Mr. Oatman arrived at the dock, talking to a younger man who walked with such easy, long strides. Mr. Oatman, wanting to make the sale, offered, “Mr. Wagner, this is a great little boat. When I read the factory manual, I discovered this is a fishing boat!”

Mr. Wagner replied, “Oh, this fishing boat is just right, and I love the blue and silver color.”

My heart jumped hearing, “This boat is a fishing boat!” It made sense to me that the factory would know.

Mr. Wagner towed me home with his red minivan. Three days later, early in the morning, he loaded all manner of fishing equipment to go fishing. I was so excited.

After I was launched, Mr. Wagner called out to his children, “Eli, Zak, and Annalise, jump in; we are ready to go!”

Soon we were flying across the lake at a great speed, everyone smiling, and everyone’s hair looking wild and crazy. My heart began to dance as we cut through the water.

With the morning sun reaching across the lake’s water, we cast a shadow. My heart immediately understood the image and sang out …

“Factory made … a blue and silver color!”

“Factory made a fishing boat … I am no other!”

When I Tell You

Lani Matsu

When I tell you I really love that color on you, my heart’s voice is telling you so much more.

It’s telling you how eternally grateful I am that you’re sharing your life with me, because perhaps it’s knowing that long before this world was, we promised each other we’d meet here. It’s telling you how much I enjoy our adventures exploring and learning as well as those times we sit side by side in quiet. It’s telling you how safe I feel sharing with you my joyful times as well as those times my heart is breaking. It’s telling you that I trust completely that you will always be honest with me when I ask a question of you.

It’s telling you how much I appreciate your humor and how you make me laugh. It’s telling you how I love your amazingly sensitive and thoughtful ways. It’s telling you how my soul sees the light in yours, and of how I feel we’re two perfect beings trying to be perfect for each other. It’s telling you how much I miss you when we’re apart.

So yes, when I tell you that I love that color on you, please hear that my heart’s voices telling you so much more.

A Real Father

Lee Murray

When Marcy Williams met her husband Phil, she was attracted to him because he was a fun-loving, free spirit. What she didn’t realize before they exchanged wedding vows is that he was also a louse. It wasn’t until she was six months pregnant with her son Joey that she realized what a bad mistake she’d made. Her ex could be summed up in three words, untruthful, unreliable and worst of all, unfaithful.

In short, Phil was never around. Even when he promised he would be, he wasn’t. Either he’d be at the bar holding court with his friends or cheating on his wife with an old girlfriend. Marcy quickly tired of philandering Phil and filed for divorce, hoping he’d at least be a decent father but he wasn’t that either. Time after time, Phil would promise to take Joey fishing over the weekend. Marcy would have her son all dressed and ready to go on Saturday morning but Phil would not show up, leaving her to explain to her sobbing child that his dad wasn’t going fishing with him after all. Another time, Phil led Joey to believe that he’d get the Xbox gaming system he wanted so badly for Christmas and when Joey tore open the wrapping paper, he was elated to see the game system console box. But when he opened the box, it was stuffed with socks. Phil explained to his heartbroken son that he couldn’t afford a gaming console, laughing while tears streamed down his son’s face.

Upon hearing of this Christmas debacle, Marcy called up and tore into her ex-husband. But what really bothered her was that her ex was teaching her son that he couldn’t trust his own father and afraid he’d lose faith in all people. More than once she cried herself to sleep at night worrying about her little son and the impact her jerk of an ex-husband was having on him.

But then, lives often take unexpected turns. One day while Marcy was cheering Joey on at a soccer game, one of the other dads noticed the pretty mom on the sidelines and approached her. He also had a young son on the team. Marcy took an instant liking to the strong, masculine fellow who she could tell was everything her ex-husband was not.

He smiled at her and offered his hand. “My name’s Carl. Carl Crawford.”

“Marcy Williams,” she said, returning his smile.

Carl explained to her that he’d lost his wife to illness in the past year and as a single parent, was very involved in his son’s activities. They talked for a few minutes and he asked Marcy for her phone number which she provided. He called the next day and when Carl asked her out, she graciously accepted. She found Carl very responsible, reassuring and solid. All the things she admired in a man.

Over the weeks and months to follow, Marcy and Carl became inseparable. He went out of his way to include Joey in their activities, camping trips, baseball games, nights out for pizza and ice cream, movies and popcorn at home. Marcy was quite taken with Carl but what really sealed the deal for her was his proposal of marriage and offer to adopt Joey as his own son.

Marcy was beside herself with her heart pounding and emphatically said yes. She hadn’t been this happy in many years and promised Carl that she’d be a loving, devoted wife for the rest of their lives. He told her he’d be the best husband to her and father to Joey that he possibly could.

From the date of their wedding, Carl more than lived up to his promises. Not only was he a great provider, but the best father to Joey Marcy could ever hope for. He was there for him the entire way through, being a great role model and providing valuable counsel as Joey grew older, helping him navigate the difficult teenage years. Most importantly, when he made a promise to Joey, he kept it and gradually the boy learned to trust once again.

Marcy couldn’t have loved this man more if she tried. Carl also taught Marcy to trust again and she learned that while any man can say they’re a father, it takes a real man to actually be one.