Alone At The Lake – Becky Brewster

BeckyHe creaked as he softly guided his legs out of his truck, he stood… surveying the lake in front of him. Then he shut the door… it creaked as well, slowly folding into the truck until it latched.

He moved slowly to the small trailer attached to his truck and began un-fastening the ropes and lowering it to the ground. A small two person canoe was its cargo — blue, not old like I suspected but with a distinct newness to it. A new hobby I thought.

He stood back to look at the canoe and scanned the lake once again. He opened a backpack and started removing some carefully placed items — first out were two rubber ducks, one with a straw hat, one with a bonnet. He affixed them to the front of the canoe and gave them a long stare. Next out were a pair of water proof trousers, he leaned against his truck to put them on — one leg, so carefully creaking, at a time. He rested.

He reached deeper into his pack and pulled out a life-vest — he put it on, meticulously, checking all the straps, tugging at it to ensure a proper fit. He rested again. He stood silently beside the canoe still on the trailer and gazed at the lake as if to see if it was ready for him.

Once again he reached in to the pack and pulled out the last item — a book. He tucked the book inside the vest, bent down to grab the rope hanging from the trailer, and began the walk down the ramp towards the awaiting lake. At the edge of the water, he pushed the canoe off the trailer and settled it halfway in the lake — he was almost ready.

He walked from one side of the canoe to the other — deciding his best point of entry. He chose the right side and lifted, first his left leg then his right leg, hanging on to the sides of the canoe as he did — I heard a creak. He settled into position and let out a breath. He rested.

He grabbed the oar from the bottom of the canoe and paused only momentarily to look out over the tip of the canoe — he used the oar to push himself and the canoe away from shore — once… twice… three times and he was free from the sandy slope that led to the open water. He rested the oar across his lap as he gently floated away from shore. I heard his breath exhale again.

He floated farther and farther from shore without using the oar — the calm lake waves were carrying him out to the peaceful center of the open water. He reached deep into his vest and pulled out the book — he gazed at the ducks still affixed to the front of the two person canoe that only held him and he began to read, and he was gone.

Disappeared.

No wake left in his absence.

No ripples where his canoe should still be.

He was gone.

I blinked, not knowing if he had ever been there.

But the ducks, the plastic ducks that had, only seconds earlier, been strapped to his canoe, were now floating where he once was… where he was supposed to be.

… and I watched them from the shore, floating away from me with his story.

~~~~~

I’m a single mother to three children and two dogs.
I’ve been working in public education for… well, way too long to count. I specialize in working with children with autism, that is my passion. I am one of those lucky few who love and are passionate about their jobs. And then, there’s writing… when I grow up, I want to be a writer.
I share my poems, prose, and stories on my blog, First Pages. Come visit!
Happy Halloween, y’all.

One Last Time

Play for me... one last time.

It wasn’t supposed to end this way. All or nothing, not one or the other. It wasn’t fair to know he had to go on without her. His sister came over often, saying it was time to move on, to let go, and she was right, but it didn’t make the decision to leave any easier.

“Play for me?” Ali whispered, “One last time.” She was standing in the doorway to the bedroom of the flat they used to share. She walked towards him and lifted the fallboard, exposing the white and black keys. Without a sound he gently laid his long fingers over the keys. With soft strokes, he began, and a Nocturne of Chopin’s infused into the air from the dusty piano. He closed his eyes as she entered the room and sat next to him on his bench. Having her so close to him still, after all this time, made him nervous, and an E natural replaced the flat it should have been, making him cringe. She just laughed, an obvious forgiveness of his mistake, making the motions to lean her head against his shoulder, and how he wished in that moment he could feel her skin against his.

The accident was his fault. He was paying closer attention to the radio dial than the road. The last thing he remembered was her screams, although he did believe he heard an ambulance driver say it didn’t look good for either of them. That was when he began to pray. He prayed God would allow her to live. Of the two of them, surely her life meant more.

It was noon. Almost time for the two year memorial and the knock on the door meant it was time to go, this time forever – a final goodbye. His playing subsided as they looked into each other’s eyes. “I’m going to miss you,” he whispered.

“I love you,” she replied.

The door opened, and they both turned to see his sister at the door. “It’s time… are you ready?” she asked, not taking notice of the ghost in the room.

Ethan and Ali looked at each other. “I’m ready.”

Ethan’s sister smiled. It was a comforting, pained smile. “I didn’t know you knew how to play,” she whispered.

“I don’t,” Ali replied.