Rowing

11 Jul

 A fish jumps in the water, thwacking against the glass like surface, sending ripples alongside the boat. Without thinking, I plunge my hand and wrist into the water. If you cool your wrist, it cools the entire body. Grandmas words come back to me now, in the strangest time. Who knows what’s underneath the surface, in the night, but whatever creature lurks there compares little with what feels like ice cubes traveling through my bloodstream. Loons cry in the distance. I can see the beach now. It’s desolate, except for a few other boats tied to the dock, and the lights from the house, a little ways up the road. Soon the boat scrapes against the grainy sand, and I step out, feeling the sand imbetween my toes, and the water up to my knees.

To Tod, she looked odd: dressed in overalls, hauling a boat up onto the shore, and, at this hour, all alone. Dark, bedraggled hair, almost black in the moonlight and no shoes. He watched as she easily flipped the boat over, in case it rained, he guessed. He even wondered if he should say anything to her. He might scare her. But, she didn’t look the type that scared easily. Hadn’t she, after all, just rowed across an entire lake, practically in the middle of the night, all by herself? It was curious, if not downright weird. From his place on the grass, right before it smoothed into sand, he knew she wouldn’t be able to see him.

Now that I’m here, on this side of the lake, I wonder what I was thinking to come here. Up the road, light floods out from the windows, and in them, people stand drinking and talking and laughing. It’s very merry inside. Alongside the dock, miles of beach stretch into the distance. Just beach, strewn with shells and driftwood, bordered with forests of grass, silver in the wind. How different this side of the lake! How lonesome.

Tod expected her to continue toward the party, not toward him. If she continued, nose to the moon, she would walk right in front of him. She probably wouldn’t see him, but should he say something? And if he did, what? At one point, she bends down and picks up a sea shell, inspecting it before dropping it into a deep pocket. With only a few feet separating them, he stepped forward from the grass.

“Hello, there.”

“Who are you?”

“Todd Jasper. And you?

“Claire Rose.”

“All right, Claire Rose, if you tell me why you row by yourself in the middle of the night, I’ll tell you why I left the party I presume you’re going to.”

“I don’t even know you. And besides, how do you know I was going to the party.”

“I figured by the overalls.”

“Are you making fun of me?”

“I would never. Now, may I walk with you along this stretch of beach?”

“That depends.”

“On?”

“On why you were hiding there, watching me.”

“Actually, I was watching the moon, though you happened along by about the middle of the lake.”

“Why did you leave the party?”

“Clostrophic, you know. Lots of questions. I don’t have many answers. Out here, it’s just space, breeze, water.”

“I rowed by myself because everyone else was asleep, and I thought it might be nice to go the party, even thought it’s…well…late.”

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