“Caught!” Friend, June 2009, 30–32
Jake had waited all autumn, winter, and spring for the opening day of fishing season. Fishing was his favorite sport, and he was ready to go. His pole stood by the door, loaded with all the line his reel could hold. He had tied on a brand-new red-and-white lure with a three-pronged hook. He was going to catch the biggest cutthroat trout ever in the creek by his house.
But now—of all times—Mom said he had chores to do.
“Jake, if you want to go fishing, you need to clean your room first,” Mom said.
Jake hung his head, stomped to his room, and threw himself onto his bed.
“I just don’t get what the big deal is about having a clean bedroom,” Jake muttered. “I know where my things are. If I put them back in a drawer, I’ll just have to go to all the trouble of digging them out again. And what’s the sense of making a bed if I’m going to climb back into it again in a few hours anyway?”
Jake picked up two wrinkled shirts off the floor and threw them in his closet. Then he hurriedly pulled the bedspread up over his pillow. Cleaning his bedroom didn’t seem as important as not being late for the opening day of fishing season.
Jake listened for clues about where Mom was in the house. If she was in the kitchen, she might stop him to make sure he had done a good job cleaning. But if she went to the laundry room, he could make a quick getaway. After several long minutes, the washing machine buzzer finally summoned Mom to the laundry room.
Jake rushed for the door, grabbing his fishing pole on the way out. He paused for a moment to close the door as quietly as possible, then ran across the field. He hid in the thick willows that lined the creek. He had escaped without being caught. Maybe Mom wouldn’t even notice his room wasn’t really clean.
Taking a deep breath, Jake whipped the tip of his pole back behind his shoulder and flung it forward, allowing the line to spin off his reel. He listened to the soft splash of the lure as it entered the gentle ripples of the fresh, cold water in his favorite fishing hole. It was just as fun as he remembered. Soon he had no thoughts of his bedroom, Mom, or anything else.
Jake reeled in the line, watching his lure dance across the rocks at the bottom of the creek. He repeated the process several times. Suddenly, he felt the line catch on something, followed by a sharp sting on his shoulder. Two of the prongs on his hook had gone through his shirt and snagged the back of his shoulder.
“Oh no!” Jake thought. “Mom will have to help me get the hook out. What will she say? I’m supposed to still be cleaning my room.”
As Jake headed back to the house, he prepared himself for Mom’s lecture, but it never came.
“Hmm, Jake, it looks like you’ve been caught,” Mom said when she saw the hook.
He knew what she meant. He was not only caught by the fishhook, but he had been caught disobeying. “I know, Mom,” Jake said. “I’m sorry I didn’t obey you.”
Mom took Jake to the doctor. Jake whimpered a bit as the doctor removed the hook, but was quiet during the ride home. He knew what he needed to do. When they got home, Jake went upstairs and cleaned his bedroom.
The next day, Jake did all his chores before asking Mom if he could fish. From now on, the only thing getting caught would be a big cutthroat trout.