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The Joys of Vandalia This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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The rush of splashing through the beautiful murky water soothes my whole body. In those few seconds, the things that worried me don’t matter. The stress of college applications, sporting events, and friendship issues are lifted off of my shoulders as I become submerged under this cooling lake water. Holding my breath, I glide as far as I can away from the antique wooden dock, away from my troubles. Then as my breath begins to diminish I realize that this feeling can not last. I realize that I can not swim away from the real world and that eventually I will have to face my stressful life; but not until this weekend is over and I have to return back to my home town.

My grandparents’ lake home in Vandalia, Illinois always strips away my worries no matter what they are. Something about being in a small town and spending time with my crazy, loud family makes me relaxed. Maybe the fact that I am four and half hours away from my troubles or the fact that time is irrelevant at the lake is the reason I am so carefree. But whatever the cause is, I am glad.

My brother throws in a pair of water skies just as I swim into the shallow waters by dock. I take a life jacket off the deck and a stylish, high-lighter orange baseball hat and put them on. My cousin Kenton backs the boat out of the dock and throws me the ski rope. I grab it and sink down into the water. The boat engine revs up and the familiar feelings of the skis on my feet flattening out over the smooth water comfort me as I find my balance. I slip my right foot out of the ski and place it on the back of the ski on my left foot. The sun is shining down from the sky, the wind flows through my hair and a smile slowly spreads across my face.

The lake is like glass; my skis slice through it so smoothly that it feels like I am gliding. I weave in and out of the wake taking in the beautiful scenery around me. As my eyes glance over the forest of trees surrounding the lake I see a rustle in the bushes. I keep an eye on that part of the forest but everything is still now. I put this out of my mind as I circle around the lake. Kenton steers the boat towards the dock and I glide in.

I get out and jump on the speed boat; now it is my turn to spot, or watch the skier. My brother Brenden hops in the cool water and grabs the rope. He gracefully gets up and out of the water on one ski and glides in and out of the wake like a pro. Kenton is still driving the speed boat and he steers the vessel around the lake.

In the boat the stereo is blasting “This Afternoon” by Nickelback as the sun is beating down on my skin keeping me warm from the summer breeze. The boat sways back and forth over a few waves and my body relaxes completely. I can barely keep my eyes open to watch my brother ski because of this soothing feeling. Just as my eyes lids are drooping shut, a hornet flies in to the nook of my ear. I fling forward, swatting at this pest while turning my head. I look into the forest the surrounds the lake and I remember days of July 4th, when my family and I would watch fireworks shoot out from between the trees, and the sound of me honking our pathetic boat horn in appreciation.

The sun was starting to set which meant that our family would be eating dinner soon and now that I think about it I am starving. I persuade Kenton to turn the boat around and head by to the dock by promising him that he will be the first person to ski tomorrow.

Kenton, Brenden and I head up the seventy-six wooden steps that separate the lovely dock from my grandparent’s home. We walk into the kitchen and the smell of barbeque sauce fills my nostrils. We sit down at the table with my family and listen to their wild tales of their high school days, and to their arguments about politics, all the while laughing. Eventually, the food on the table is gobbled up and the dishes are cleared. The kitchen table then turns into our family’s card table. We play well into the night and as the players lose the volume decreases.

Once the game is over the youngsters head off to the loft, the space over the garage that was turned into an eight person bedroom. Kenton, Brenden and I get ready for bed; we put our pajamas on, brush our teeth, and wash our faces. We do all of this even though we know that we are sneaking out to the cornfield that night. The parents come up to check on us and tell us that they are going to sleep, so we figure that we have thirty minutes to burn. We spend this time catching up with each other. Kenton tells us about college life and Brenden tells crazy stories from his high school days while I just laugh. Eventually, we shut our eyes and fall into a deep sleep. The next thing we know we wake up to the smell of bacon and begin a new, beautifully day.





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