Despite living in Kentucky, I’ve only fished twice in my life. I only remember the first time because of a photo. I’m snugly zipped into a neon windbreaker, a loud demarcation of the 90s, with my father and some friends I don’t remember. A silvery, almost non-existent fish is dangling from the line of my pole. The second time was at a picnic. I was much older, and windbreakers were out of style. A girl who was probably my age the last time I fished was trying and failing to do the same thing. I attempted to give her advice from the few movies I’d seen where people caught one. Eventually, she became frustrated and her small hands passed her sparkly pole over to me. In a few moments, to our surprise, I reeled one in. The tiny thing broke the surface of the water and struggled for its life, pierced on the hook. The little girl gleefully snatched back the pole, handling the catch with a sudden expertise, then ran to show it off. The other fishermen nearby cast their lines into the moss-green waters, reeled in the fish, and swiftly unhooked them. The creatures slapped against the concrete, flopping up and off the ground. Finally, exhausted, they twitched their tails a few more times and quit. The men admired each other’s catches. They laughed at the struggle and conquest of freshwater wildlife. The summer sun seared into their meaty shoulders as they held their hunting tools in one hand and beer in the other. Daniel was much younger than the men at the lake. He didn’t have leathery skin or disappearing hair that sprouted on his back. The older men toasted their Millers and scooped their bounty into an ice cooler. How long did it take the fish to die? I learned recently that fish don't feel pain when they're snagged on a hook. Scientists say their brains aren’t wired for it. The struggling is just unconscious, they're responding to a threat, but they're not actually in pain. There's some debate around it, though. Some researchers say the way the fish might feel pain isn't meaningful. Or maybe they just do, and all the research is wrong. Daniel was handsome. They're always handsome. Wavy, dark-brown hair. Eyes black as marbles. Sometimes he would smile at me from across the student union at our community college. He was studying law enforcement. I was really into The Beatles then. "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window" was the song I picked for him. There's a line in the song that goes, “...and so I quit the police department... got myself a steady job...” I imagined us living in a shitty apartment, rolling around in the sheets, surviving on Ramen as only a nineteen-year-old can. I don't remember how we started talking, but we did. This handsome, ambitious guy (with a great body, my younger self hadn't neglected to notice) was suddenly into me. Talking turned into skipping class for a trip to Freeman Lake a few miles from school. I drove. I felt safer when I drove. I was in control behind the wheel of my rusty, old Toyota Celica. We sat on top of a picnic table near the water. It must've been chilly because there wasn't anyone around. Freeman Lake crawls with people as soon as the air starts to smell like honey in April. It must've been chilly because Daniel scooted closer to me, his arm curling around my waist. I didn't mind. He was handsome. It's a nice thing to do, to keep a person warm. I watched the water. Do fish sleep when it gets cold? I heard somewhere that they do. I felt him watching me. I said something to him and looked over. He smiled at me. "You're awesome," he said. I'm sure what I said hadn't garnered that compliment, and in hindsight, what a bland thing to say to a person. Daniel kissed me, and my naive self thought it was the most 'awesome' thing that could've ever happened; On a chilly fall afternoon, ditching class, sitting by the lake with a guy's arm wrapped around me, Beatles music in my head mixing with the lapping water. His hands began to roam like fish hooks. Fish do see the hooks, don’t they? The metal cutting through their watery sky. His hand, my breast. The hook piercing the lip of a rainbow trout. They feel no pain, though; science says there's only an instinctual struggle. I half-smiled, moving his hand. Fish free. We kept kissing. Back to fish activities. The hook dropped again. Fish caught. "No," I said. He laughed. He laughed like an adult when a child says they believe in mermaids. He laughed like an adult when a child says there’s a monster under the bed. I said no the second time. It’s just a different kind of pain, science said. They have different kinds of brains. The fisherman laughed as he caught the fish again, his face contorting in the water-sky and eyes demon-black. Struggle is instinctual. Maybe the hooks are shiny. If a fish is lucky not to get caught, it watches its friends disappear above, although sometimes they come back. Are they different? Do they return scarred? Do they remember? This lake was man-made, so maybe the fish were put here for this.