A father reconnects with his son on a trip to the lake, resurrecting more than just memories. More
We leave the car and strip behind it. The boy turns shyly away, exposing the pearly white purity of his bare bottom. Safe from view, I enjoy the transitory thrill of standing naked in the world. Before slipping my trunks on, I look beyond the far side of the wired enclosure, remembering a place, now possessed by a cottage, where my father and mother and brother and I once long ago camped in a trailer.
As we approach the gate again, I look beyond it, down the length of interlinked wire, towards the dwindling end of beach where my father always set the barbecue grill, away from children carelessly running about. I close my eyes and imagine him still standing there on a sandy crescent of shoreline, enclosed by the now becalmed water and a green profusion of cattails.
A cool draft coming off the lake causes me to wonder if we have come too late. The possibility prompts the remembrance of another past summer day when the water proved too cold to go in. As I stood with my toes at the waterline looking out, a tall gangly girl my own age, with skin of shiny ebony and hair kinky black, approached holding in both hands a half-empty bottle of Fresca. Having little experience with unfamiliar girls, even less with black ones, I found her an interesting challenge. My eyes continually drew away from her face to her hair, woven into pigtails tied off at the ends with bits of red yarn. I particularly liked the way she talked, which imparted a slight trill to the words she spoke. But my every gambit to capture her interest failed until, replying, “Tosh,” to a bold hypothetical I expressed in an attempt to impress her, (that swimming would be far more comfortable if only a small piece of sun were to fall in the lake and warm it,) she turned away and went back to sit on the blanket next to her mother, who listened, smiling, holding a cigarette motionless to her lips, while between finishing sips of her Fresca the girl related what I’d said.