Night at the Lake

March 26, 2012
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Shaking, we huddle around the wood stove in the middle of the cabin. Our mud caked feet scratching against the coarse wood floor, shifting in anticipation. Silently we stare at each other, looking at hastily thrown on swimsuits, carelessly draped over our charcoal shoulders. Anxiously we gaze across the stove, smiles half way between nervous and excitement, unsure of what we are about to do. Slowly then all at once sparks fly from our once worried eyes. Lightning travels to our feet. We bolt to the door. Soft echoes of thunderous feet tear through the open door, clamoring for still sopping towels, only grabbed out of habit. The creaking of the cowboy door barely register in our heads that were buzzing thoughts of our own teenage rebellion.
Cool, fresh, wind of the Adirondack night lifts me up. A sudden agility, a surefootedness that normally escapes me was suddenly within me. The steep incline, of the jutted rock steps, that left me wounded in the light, propel me forward at night. Exposed, my feet become one with the rocks, the smooth stone steps, cushioned brown dirt. They rejected the pain of the coarse gravel. Low hanging branches that once gnawed at my ankles, ripping away flesh as I passed, now softly caress. The spindly stems form fingers, which ease me towards my destination. Firm hands of assurance guide me to the only place my feet know where to go. Rapidly weaving and hopping down the paved over hill, I rush to catch the friends who know the path much better than I, but still I am carried, pulled, pushed towards our sacred place.
Quickly, the natural pursuit stops. The currents of excitement still flow through, my heart still pounds, the wind still urges me to fly, the branches still push me along, but there I stand. Toes once throbbing with excitement are now firmly curl over the rocks edge. The feet know better than the eyes in this unlit night. A dangerous drop. My feet no longer trust the magnetic power of the native lake. They remember past failures, they remember near broken ankles and heads. Go back, they say, this is not the place for teenage daring, no place for killer stupidity.

My ears do not betray me. They hear the lapping of water - the soft knocking of the dock against the rocks of the shoreline. Two girls laughing, the sound of friends, softly yelling words of encouragement. They have always understood my fear. Again they light the spark, I remember what first brought me here. It was not the wind which whipped my sun chapped face. Not the rocks leaving cuts from which my feet now bleed. Not the braches, itchy, scratchy, prodding me. It was them to whom I was drawn. It was them, and the lake to which I had an unbreakable bond. Effortlessly I glide down the rock face.

On the dock we again exchange glances. It is colder now, closer now, to what we’ve set off to do. Sparks still fly, the energy is tangible, like an out of control bouncy ball, an unpredictable ricochet of sly words and glances. No longer can I handle the tension, with a quick dare and a jump I am in, two splashes soon follow. It is surprising on such a cold night how warm the water is. Without the cruel city lights, the stars shine all the brighter. The glowing, glistening moon melts into the lake, our lake, telling the stars to follow. The lake and the stars surround my friends and I, engulfing us, protecting us, only showing us the beauty of a summer night. There we lay under our watery blanket, held together by stardust, and summer dreams.

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