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  • Megan Schreiber-Carter

A Pleasant Fish Tale


Fish for dinner, on Friday, is common in Elk County, PA, regardless of the time of year. At dinnertime one Friday, about a month and a half ago, I still had work to finish. It was just me, so I called in a baked-fish order, delivered from a nice little place, in a cool, historic building, just a few minutes walk down the hill. Work wrapped up quicker than expected, and I found myself on a call with my sister. With the phone on speaker in my shirt pocket, I moved around the old house, picking up after the day, like you do. Just as I sat with a glass of wine, my sister’s voice faded out and back in. Then, I heard rapid-fire messages landing in my phone. It seemed as if it might jump out of my pocket. As people say, “my phone blew up.” Pulling it out, with some concern, I found two calls and three texts from friends and neighbors. It all happened so fast that my sister, was still in the middle of what she was saying…. “Ummm, a, I’m getting slammed with messages,” I said before I read the texts out loud. One said, “Hey just making sure you are ok?” The next added, “…someone’s been banging on your door.” Another told me, ”Answer your door. Your fish is there.” My sister started laughing. I got up and headed towards the front door. “She’s coming now,” I announced from the newest text, triggering more laughter from my sister. Interrupting an energetic knock on the door, I opened it to find an attractive lady with true concern and relief in her eyes. She’s a member of the family that owns the business. We knew each other’s families, but we’d never met before. As well as we could, on a small porch, we kept our distance, which people were starting to do at the time. “I’m so glad you’re okay,” she said with a warm smile, infecting me with a warm smile of my own. “I told ‘em,” she added quickly, “‘maybe something happened to her between the time she ordered the fish and when I got there.’ So, we checked around. I’m glad you’re okay.” Touched by her concern, I couldn’t stop smiling with her. I thanked her, told her I was sorry I’d put her to trouble, that I hadn’t heard her knocking, that I’d been on the phone…. She handed me the fish in a nice white bag and apologized, saying, “it may not be hot anymore.” I told her I didn’t mind that at all and handed her the payment. She thanked me. We stood there looking at each other, both still smiling. Under different circumstances, I would have asked her in. “I’m a hugger," she said. “Normally, I’d hug you.” “I’m a hugger, too,” I said. “My friends from New England tell me,” you’re a hug-ga.” We both laughed at that. “When this is over,” I suggested, “let’s have a nice, big hug.” She nodded, kept smiling, waived, and headed off happily. Being cared for feels great, especially when it’s so still around this borough that deer walk the alleys and graze near the houses. The fish was delicious. I thanked the message leavers for their quick action and concern. As one local person told me, proudly, about this pleasant fish tale— “That’s a small town for ya.”

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