Every fall you can see the fish gathered at the mouths of the rivers or in the tidewaters, waiting, and the fishermen waiting, too. The rains come, the water rises and the fish begin to swim upstream. A steelhead is the same as a rainbow trout, except a rainbow trout stays in fresh water and the steelhead doesn’t. A rainbow trout has a red band around it, so they call it rainbow, but the steelhead loses its band when it goes out to sea. If I was an animal, I’d be a salmon, I told Tree, but she said no, you’d be a snake. Maybe her name is Tree and she has dreadlocks and a full sleeve tattoo, but she is a moralist. “You should leave that woman’s husband alone,” she said. Under normal circumstances, she would have been right, but this was not a normal circumstance.
I leaned forward inspecting myself in the little mirror on my wall. My face was smooth and clear and innocent. I thought it was funny, how some people’s lives get put on their faces, but mine hadn’t. “You need to forgive and forget,” said Tree, and I didn’t argue. She sat on my bed watching, while I got dressed. She said, “What goes around, comes around.”
I said, “Uh huh. Don’t I know it.”
People say it’s up to us to forgive and forget, but maybe that’s because they believe in karma. They think karma will take care of it. Karma will settle accounts. But if you don’t believe in anything, if you don’t believe in karma, or God for that matter, then maybe you have to even the score yourself.