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Our Hearts in a Tin Boat
I was sitting Indian style and barefoot on the cool, moist, wooden dock. It was almost seven in the morning and the lake was covered in a foggy mist. I didn't hear his footsteps until he was only a few feet away. As I turned around he smiled and covered up my shoulders with a blanket, taking a seat next to me. We were quiet for a few minutes. Then I smiled and looked at him.
“What?” he asked.
“How did you know I was out here?”
“ I heard the screen porch door shut and got curious.” Another stretch of quiet. Not awkward uncomfortable silence, but the peaceful kind. And the kind where you both are thinking the same thing. “And why are you out here?” he asked.
“ Um, I guess.. well, I like to come out here to think... when I have something on my mind.” I replied.
“Oh, I don't know.. people.”
“What kind of people?”
“Regular people.” He laughed.
“Anyone in particular?”
“Me?” I looked at him. My eyes were getting that panicky scared look he knew so well. I could tell. Fast, I turned my face away.
“You can say no, you know. If that's the truth.”
“No, well it's just that...” I gave a small dry laugh, “you'd think it wouldn't take me by surprise by now.” He forced a small smile, but his heart wasn't in it. He stood up and stretched, saying,
“I'm gonna head in and make breakfast. See ya in a bit I guess.” He started walking away. I watched him go, but turned before the sound of the screen door could reach me.
I wish I could go back to when everything was beautiful and simple and when all that mattered was how much we loved each other. Because we did. I mean, we still do... I think. I need to remember. Remember...
Looking at my reflection in the water, I fell in. And when I lifted my gaze I was back.
And first, surrounded by darkness. Then the moon shone bright for a few seconds, just enough to send sparkles scattering across the small lake waves. I inhaled deeper than necessary, as if I could consume the very of the atmosphere, as if I could hold the moment in my body, and mind, forever. As we bobbed slightly up and down in the small tin boat I caught him staring at me and we both smiled. He stared into my eyes and the moonlight shone upon his giving them a clear, crisp, deep appearance. Then we were consumed by darkness yet again as a particularly ominous cloud loomed above us, covering our only source of light apart from the few pin holed stars someone pricked in the sky.
I could only see the outline of his figure, now. Sitting across from me his knees were bent just to the right of mine and his arms were up in a relaxed position on the edge of our boat. I was a mirror image of him. Together we tilted our heads towards the sky as the first few raindrops began to fall. I closed my eyes and let the cool drops splash my face. Looking toward him again I saw him incline his head ever so slightly and I know he means it's time to go. I sigh a silent sigh, wanting only to remain here forever. There's a quiet boom in the distance and I notice the rush of air against my skin. There's a storm coming and we both know it, yet neither of us makes a move to leave until finally,
“You know we can't stay out here forever.”
He cocks his head again and I know he's smiling. We both wait. Another boom. I look toward the far coast above the trees. There's a flash of light and although it's still far away I know it's time to leave. He does, too.
“C'mon.” he murmurs. We paddle until we've got the boat tied to a birch tree that grows in the tiny stretch of beach and forest we call ours. The rain's coming down thick and heavy, sliding down my skin. The wind's picking up speed. He takes my hand and starts through the trees along a tiny narrow path. Looking behind through the pouring rain he grins at me and laughs, “C'mon!”
At this he lets go of my hand and starts to run, leaping over tree roots and dodging branches. I laugh, trying my best to keep up, and follow him through the intricate and confusing twists and turns of the little path we carved out together. Sliding in the mud I manage to get out of the trees and into the yard. I look around through blurred curtains of pelting gray rain and suddenly I've been scooped up into his arms and he's spinning me around. We're both drenched through our clothes but are laughing so hard that we're out of breath and couldn't care less. Both of us fall onto the soaking grass. His arm is still around my neck and my hand has landed on his chest. Our laughing has died down and we stare into each other's eyes. There's a hint of a smile on his lips and there's surely one on mine as he tilts his head in closer. His face is covered in drops of rain and his eyes have that clear, deep look again. His long hair is dark and drenched from the rain and every detail of his face is etched in extraordinary clarity. He's so close I can feel him breathing. His lips are slightly parted and I close my eyes.
“________!” WHAT are you doing out there GET inside!” As I open my eyes he closes his and groans.
“I'm sorry, I-”
“It's okay, it's fine” I say with a slight smile. I laugh. He looks intently at me for the briefest of moments and I get tense, then he relaxes and we share a smile.
“________! If you don't get in this house RIGHT THIS SECOND...” She's drowned out by a loud roll of thunder.
He gives a small, exasperated grunt directed through the storm at the paint-peeled window. He pushes himself off the sopping wet ground and holds his hands out to me as I clumsily try to get off the slippery grass. I grasp his hands and he tugs me up, pulling me into a tight, all-encompassing hug which he holds just a second longer than necessary. Letting me go he turns and bends slightly.
“Piggy back to the house?” he asks over his shoulder with a smile. The rain is still coming down in buckets so I hesitate, but my reasoning falls easily to the temptation his sweet smile provides so I hop on and he walks back through the downpour as easily as he would have on a nice spring day. Halfway there a deafening clap of thunder shakes the ground and startles us both so much so that I jump off his back while a blinding flash of lightning hits somewhere nearby. We grab hands and run the rest of the way. We stomped up the wooden porch stairs, fling the screen porch door open, and find ourselves dripping over yellow linoleum tile in the kitchen.
“Oh thank goodness!You're both okay? No injuries? Good heavens, WHAT were you thinking?! You could have been killed! How many times have I told you not to take out the tin boat when it's supposed to storm!?”
She pauses seeing as she's smothering us with towels. Her face softens, though, once she sees the guilty look in our eyes and how truly ridiculous we look standing shamefully in her kitchen with giant puddles of mud and grass forming at our feet.
That night proceeded to be one of the most memorable nights of my life. We dried off and I borrowed clean clothes. We also lost power as the storm raged on, so he, his mom and I sat around the square kitchen table with only a lone lantern to shine on the Kings, Queens, Aces, and Jokers who were scattered across the green, plastic, table covering. We talked all night, and laughed. And told stories. He and I listened for the most part. She had some fabulous stories to be heard. At about 1 o'clock we decided to turn in for the night, but first had to forage through the dark hallways with softly padding feet until we found the extra blankets and pillows for me. I curled up on their couch after saying a special, second goodnight to the boy with the clear dark eyes whom I loved so much, and dreamt of nothing but those sweet, smiling memories of the day as the distant thunder and still furiously tapping rain lulled me to sleep.