When I remember our lake I remember laying back into the comfortable and capable arms of that water, so clean and clear.
I remember pressing my bare feet into the rock and pushing back, my body a canoe cutting through the water. Long soft leaves brushed my legs as I kicked away from the from the shallows. And as I lowered my head back into the cool glass, my hair transformed into another animal below its surface, I looked up into the blue. An army of evergreens kept watch all around the lake, protecting me from intruders and almost all sound. With my head underwater, even the sound of the birds vanished and I was completely alone. I closed my eyes and disappeared completely for a moment. I was not afraid then.
Floating on my back, I hummed a song that vibrated through my body to the water in my ears, louder and lower than I expected. I stared into the bright blue above until the sun made little floating spots appear in my eyes and I would have to close them tight for a second. The air smelled wet and sweet and cool. I made out the muffled sound of a woman’s voice and I lifted my head, turning quickly toward the bank and scanned the land for my parents, forgetting when and where I was,.
I watched as an unfamiliar family emerged from the clearing and joined me, not venturing far from land, encouraging and congratulating one another after every jump, every splash, every movement. Having been made aware of my isolation, I leaned back and floated further out and into the lake. It enveloped me, cooled the quick sting brought about by children’s voices, pulled me in. The sun warmed my face and I dreamed, wide awake, of a white swimming tube with yellow ducks all around it, artificially colored juices saved for special occasions, and the sound of a tent unzipping in the morning. I was soothed, being rocked in my water bed, until the sun slipped below the tops of the trees and I became suddenly cold all over.
When I remember our lake: I remember the smell of sweat on my skin. I remember eyelids heavy from the sun and water, choosing the perfect song for the long drive home, and the cigarette taste on my lips. I remember how soft my curls felt against the pillow when I finally went to bed. I remember a long but gentle sting – thinking of calling you but falling asleep instead.