“Come on, Steve!” I pleaded, exasperated. “For the last time, Mij, I’m not going! Fishing’s for…old people,” Steve retorted, waving his hands as though he were trying to swat a fly away. Which, in all fairness, he probably was: me.

“Well you don’t actually have to fish, you can just enjoy the pretty river and beautiful
trees,” I explained, gesturing to an imaginary scene. Steve fake-laughed. “Enjoy the pretty river and beautiful trees? Nice one, Mij.” Steve scowled.

“Steve, you have to find something to do outside, especially with what you said about
suicide on the bus! Besides, you don’t have to do that, they’re just suggestions. There are a lot of things you can do by the river.” I explained.

“Sure, but fishing? No thanks,” Steve spat, clearly disgusted by the thought, “and how
do you know I wasn’t just joking about suicide?”

“I’ve heard you joke about suicide, Steve. What you said was different.” I scolded,
“Steve, you do not have to fish, you don’t even have to cast! Unless you want to, which you don’t, but you could if you wanted to try. Steve, research has shown that getting outside improves all kinds of health! If you like fishing – or you know, just being outside – it could really help you!”

We were walking back to his house and were almost there when Steve stopped suddenly
and turned on his heels to completely face me. He gripped my shoulders, digging his fingers into my skin, his head facing his worn-out sneakers.

“I’m gonna say this one more time, Mij,” Steve said, his voice low and grave. My heart
beat fast, even though I knew he wasn’t going to hurt me. Steve looked up, his dark eyes
bearing into my own ocean orbs. “I appreciate the offer and concern, but I don’t want to go
fishing.” Steve growled, the way he bore his teeth reminding me of a wolf.

I was going to get him fishing. I had tried everything else. He didn’t like hiking; he
didn’t like biking; when he had tried paddle-boarding, it was a mess; rafting went so bad
somebody needs to protect the man who invented rafting; wakeboarding was so bad just the word “wakeboarding” is a word we do not mention around Steve; when we tried water-skiing, the result was the same; and because of his experience, any kind of snow sport is a cursed activity to Steve. The only things I hadn’t tried were canoeing and fly fishing, and I didn’t know how to canoe.

I sighed and shook my head. “Alright, Steve, you don’t want to go. But you have to understand that you can’t fight the proof! I overheard my dad talking to a professional mental health counselor about doctors prescribing patients getting outside, and I fact-checked it!” I said, ripping Steve’s tightly wound hands off of my shoulders.

“You fact-checked it? What, did you google it?” He shot back. I crossed my arms and
stared him down. “No, actually, I called someone who happens to specialize in the science behind getting children outside,” I retorted, “She said if kids don’t interact with nature, they run a greater risk of mental illness, hurting themselves, or even hurting somebody else!” Steve groaned loudly in frustrated annoyance.

I pulled my “you know I’m right” look on him and he slapped his forehead. “Well, I don’t care–” He snarled, his face sour. “Yes, you do, I can see it.” I snapped. “Ugh, fine! I’ll take it into consideration!” Steve shouted, probably just to get me to stop. I sighed and went with it. “Thank you. I’ll…see you tomorrow.” I grumbled, knowing he was so not going to even give a hoot about it once I left. I had to think of something else.

I exhaled slowly the next day at school as I approached Steve. Scott, another friend of
ours who was also in on the plan, shot me a thumbs up and made up an excuse to leave. I
nodded at Scott in a friendly, yet grateful “hello,” and turned to Steve. He let out an
exasperated sigh and smiled sarcastically at me. My heart beat fast, knowing what I was about to do.

“Well, I thought about it, and I’ve decided that I will not be joining you on your
fishing trip,” Steve stated, seeming proud of himself. He even had a smug, but annoyed look plastered on his face and leaned back in the flimsy chair he was sitting in with his arms folded. I shook the nervous look on my face and replaced it with a disappointed but understanding face.

“That’s okay, I had to cancel it anyway,” I said, which was mostly true. I was only going
if he was coming with me. If he agreed to what I was about to ask, I would only
be…unofficially prescribing our fishing trip. Steve raised an eyebrow in surprise.
“Really? Well, I sure hope it didn’t have anything to do with me,” he said sarcastically.
“Oh, it did, but don’t feel bad, these things are just bound to happen to me,” I said,
sighing dramatically,“But–um–” I exhaled, keeping a straight face. Did I really want to do this? Yes, I did. Research proves getting outside amplifies happiness and all kinds of health.

I put on a similar sarcastic smile and leaned against the table with my left hand.
“Me, Scott, and Rose, are going to the movies Friday. We wanted to know if you were
maybe interested in coming? We’re going to see that movie you’ve been dying to see,” I
taunted. Steve stared me down, questioning my honesty. I could tell he really wanted to see that movie. Steve decided I was trustworthy after a few moments of what I hoped was a convincing face and he nodded. “Sure, I’ll come. When are you guys doing it? Also I need a ride.”

My tense shoulders finally relaxed and I slid into a chair next to Steve. “Great! Friday,
6:30 pm, I’ll give you a ride.” It was way too late to turn back now. Steve had taken the bite, I couldn’t lose it.

Steve nodded once and returned to his computer. I pushed out my chair and walked to
my seat. Then I pulled out my phone and texted our group chat of Scott, Rose, and I that we had titled Project: Steve. Steve’s in. I typed. I received a thumbs up and a sweet.
I’ll pick him up to go to Color Creek at 6:30 pm, and meet you two there. Does that sound good? I typed. Another thumbs up and a yup.

Scott returned from his made-up excuse and shot me a thumbs up and wink. I smiled
friendly at him and breathed out slowly. Whether what we were doing was right or wrong, the plan was in motion and there was no way we could back out now. Steve was a few minutes late as he was trying to get his stuff together, which gave me a few extra minutes to securely hide the rod tubes. As I saw Steve make his way towards the door, I scrambled to get in the car so that Steve wouldn’t suspect anything. I exhaled steadily,
gathering my confidence. This was going to work. Research showed it. Steve climbed into the car and I smiled at him.

“Alright, Steve, you ready?” I asked, masking my insecurities with the same friendly
smile I always tried to keep on. Steve nodded and I put the car in drive.

I tried to keep him as busy as I could while we drove, but once I made a turn into the
woods, Steve tensed up. “Mij, what is this?” Steve inquired, his voice quivering from anger.
“Well, aren’t you an observant cookie? Welcome to the woods.” I replied with every
ounce of confidence I could muster. Steve’s face turned red from both embarrassment and

“You lied to me? I thought you had respected my answer when I said I didn’t want to
go fishing!” Steve cried. I swallowed. “Steve, you cannot be talking about suicide and expect me to not do anything,” I replied stubbornly. Steve slammed his fists against the seat. “I trusted you,” he whispered. “Look, Steve. I am…not sorry that I lied to you because I know this will help you,” I said carefully. “Help me? Do you think I need to be fixed?” Steve scowled. “Did I say that I was trying to fix you?” I growled, getting frustrated with his stubbornness. “You said yourself you just wanted to be happy –” “Do I look happy?!?” Steve yelled. “Look, I don’t know if this will work– I never know if anything I do will work! I have no clue if getting you out here the way I did was anywhere near a good idea, but I do know, for a fact, that finding you a hobby outside will help you with your depression!” I shouted back,panting. Then, after exhaling slowly to calm my adrenaline, “So if you could please just try one more time, I promise I’ll never drag you into something like this again.”
Steve seemed shocked at my outburst, but once he took in my words, his face softened.
He sighed in disbelief at himself and looked at me, his expression a mix of annoyance and

“Alright, I’ll try it,” he grumbled. I was waiting for that “but…” in every movie I’d ever
seen, but it never came. Steve only shook his head in incredulous belief, then pushed past me. I followed him after he was a few feet ahead of me and was surprised to hear him ask for a fishing rod. Finally, after a few minutes of painful struggle, Steve let down his edgy guard and allowed me to teach him the basics. Cast, mend, set, and strip.
Scott hollered, “There are cicadas everywhere!”

I quickly added some 3x to Steve’s leader and a perfect little clicker imitation. I smiled,
then ran and got my own fishing rod, so I could join the fishing fun.
“It’s a big one, too,” Steve said excitedly after we’d casted a few times. Sure enough,
once we helped him pull it in, a fish at least 18 inches had Steve’s hook piercing its mouth. I unhooked it and handed it to Steve.

“Congratulations. You’ve caught a huge fish,” I said, “Do you want to take a picture
with it?”

Steve nodded vigorously. “Yes! I need to put it on my story.” He exclaimed excitedly.
I pulled out my battered phone and took a few pictures. After I showed him the
results, he tossed the rather-large fish back into the icy waters of the river. He turned to me, a wide smile on his face.“Well, Mij, I’m impressed. I never thought in a million years that I would find fishing as a hobby, but here we are. Thanks, Mij.”

I smiled and nodded in a silent “you’re welcome.” Then, in a child-like manner, Steve
excitedly asked, “Do you think we could do this again?”

Article written by Mij Feathersby, courtesy of Ryan Kelley @greenriverflyfisher. Journaling daily walks around the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. Faith, Family, getting kids outside, and mental health battler.


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