Boston College Magazine Spring 2004  

Honorable mentions

The Well

By Sean Barry

The breeze tugged gently at the silk banners about the bed, mixing the sweetness of hay and sorghum with our own salty perfumes. It was our first night together.

"Tell me a story of love," she said. Her eyes were calm now, their lids like copper shells.

"A story of love," I laughed. "That's all a woman ever wants."

"Untrue," she replied.

"How so?"

"Tell me your story, and I will answer you."

"Very well," I said. "In the reign of Qianlong there lived two brothers, a fisherman and a scholar. Sadly, they loved the same woman, and fought for her affection. The scholar told her stories of emperors and maidens, while the fisherman brought her his finest fish. The scholar had all but secured her heart with his tales.

"One night, the scholar heard a loud plashing in the courtyard well. When he descended to see what was the matter, he found his brother standing there with a net, thrusting it again and again into the water.

"'My brother,' he asked, ‘what are you doing?'

"The fisherman, his eyes wide with frustration, cried out, ‘I'm catching the moon for my love!'"

When I finished, she smiled but made no sound.

"Now you must tell me what a woman truly wants," I said.

"Not a story of love," she replied, "but a lover who cannot live without the stories he tells."

"Ah!" I cried.

I pulled her close and together we rolled through the moonlight, bending its silvery bars.

Sean Barry '90 is a writer living in Brooklyn.

Fishing Lesson

By Sharon Walsh

The waves are slight, tiny ripples against the side of our boat, but the sky looks menacing, its brow an angry line.

My father has not said more than three words since we put down anchor: Looks like rain. I have not done much better. I have only succeeded in throwing out a few mundane phrases, pleasantries, for which my father has no time. He is a bare bones man, pared down in his thoughts and spare in his speech.

I have always been more of a talker, in love with language. I crave the tangible presence of conversation, evidence that I exist. My parents used to sit all evening in companionable silence, but the voiceless room drove me crazy so I would burst in with questions and anecdotes and noise. My father would just flap the pages of the newspaper held out in front of him. That was the extent of his response to me.

I need more than that now, I thought, but did not say. Silence can be contagious.

I am struggling with the rod, my large hands clumsy with the tiny hook. My father leans forward and begins to explain how to thread a line properly, how to toss it out to good effect, how to guarantee that I do not go home empty-handed.

I hold this rare offering of words a gift. We sit together, quiet again under the beginnings of rain, fishing.

Sharon Walsh '89 is a university administrator in Rochester, New York.


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