The Lake

January 17, 2008
By
We spent that summer out on the lake, mostly.
At dawn we would come crashing down the narrow flight of steps that clung to the hillside, but the water would compel us to hush our giddy commotion as we approached and to pause, as if in prayer at Sunday morning services, beholding the sight of it before crossing onto the dock. The dock was weathered gray by countless storms and so rickety sometimes we half expected it to slip from its supports and carry us out to sea, and quietly we would lower ourselves onto it and fold our legs and try to be holy.
Then all at once the sun would be on top of us, and we would be lying there, basking in the heat for as long as we could endure, and then toppling head-first into the lake, sending out ripples like miniature mountain ranges, for a halted dreamlike moment taking it all in (if we dared open our eyes), that alien world beneath the velvet surface, before bobbing back to the top, panting and grinning.
Those days it was just us—us and those people across the water, barely discernable dull dots we only seldom chose to take into account. They had a nice big house they spent more time in than the lake. They had a fancy boat they would take their friends out on at dusk, sipping cocktails, their empty laughter echoing off the water. But they didn’t see the lake the way we did. Most of the time they probably didn’t see it at all.
Our house, by contrast, was nothing to look at—pale and deteriorating, with bald spots in place of paint and some shingles—but that was no matter. If it had been Versailles it could not have kept us away from the lake, where on more than one occasion we badgered our parents into letting us spend the night, pitching a tent from Daddy’s boy-scout days on the thin strip of godforsaken scrub that came between the water and the hill and at twilight listening to the timid lap of wind-ruffled water against the shore—a soporific metronome too subtle to ever raise our suspicions.
And then all at once the sun was on top of us and we were closing the shutters and packing the trunk and wedging a fork into the ground beside the road, a garish sign declaring FOR SALE. Slipping away from it till it was shielded by pine trees (older than the lake, Daddy always said), I prepared to cry but found that I couldn’t.
A little later that year came the inescapable truth of fall and subsequently, school. Sitting there in class one after another of starchy dresses and screeching chalk and yes-ma’am-no-ma’am-I-don’t-know-ma’am, my thoughts drifted to the lake. I pictured it, quiet and empty, all the houses boarded up for winter, and the dull trees trembling—the monotonous lapping upon the shore, a ticking metronome, a clock, a ticking clock ticking the time away, snatching it up from under me, and me losing my footing and plunging into unshed tears—





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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

LastChapter said...
Jul. 30, 2010 at 12:54 am
woah! this piece is AMAZING! it only  had 1 comment, so i didnt't expect it to be great, but after two sentences my jaw was on the floor! how is this not published in the magazine yet?!
 
that_one_kid said...
Nov. 27, 2009 at 6:44 pm
Very well written. Keep writing.
 
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