At twilight we scramble past rocks and moss-filled beaches, as our feet skim the lake’s surface, squishing into pillow sand; we crouch in anticipation for a silver scale to gleam. The setting sun blinds, but neither of us are scared for we know now, is time to catch glittering fish-dragons; we’ve lost enough to ensure we grasp them all. They’re shadows leap into the marmalade sky, plashless but fated the moment we spotted them.
Thanks to Bikurgurl for hosting the current #100WordWednesday. My apologies this week a hundred words turned into a few hundred that could not be cut.
The balmy August air, humid and filled with scent of sand and the lake was a smell I would never forget. Years later, I’d be sitting on my chair in the nursing home and that peculiar fragrance mixed with your cologne would suddenly take me back.
I was leaning against the ice cream stand, watching various kids play in the lake. The line up for ice cream had been long but I wasn’t picky about my ice cream flavor — anything chocolate would do. The server presented me with a gigantic three-scoop ice cream cone but had no idea how I’d eat it all. The server told me that the gentleman behind me had paid for it, but gazing back I had no idea which guy he meant.
Then, I went and I hid ( where I am now) behind the ice cream stand. That’s when the scent of sea and sand, and of sunscreen was heightened by the somehow familiar scent of your subtle cologne, citrusy and woodsy, mixed with the fragrances of the beach. It was a heavenly and sexy scent. It even overwhelmed the taste of the chocolate ice cream. My eyes closed inhaling your forever scent.
Minutes later, I opened them and you were there, leaning against the building beside me. Sharp indigo eyes and all smooth muscles and toned arms that were lightly tanned. You were devouring a three-scoop cone of Tiger ice cream as you stood watching me, reaching out only to wipe the melted chocolate away from dribbling down my hand. Even then, you were always gentle.
But I felt your touch through the napkin, saw the light stubble on your cheeks and your full lips as you come close for a moment. Your divine cologne mingling with the smells of the lake, made my legs weak and you knew it too. There was laughter in your deep-blue eyes.
“I can’t eat anymore of this you know?” I said looking dubiously at the half melted cone.
You chuckled, still staring at me,”It’s okay, but you’ve got some chocolate here,” you said wiping it off the corner of my lips with your thumb.
I could hardly breath. The memory, the feelings, they were so intense. I wanted to be anywhere else but on the beach at that moment. I wanted to be somewhere private with you.
It was a dreamlike memory, but this dream had once been our reality — our meet-cute. Later as we chatted I recalled you stroking my arms with a feather soft touch. You threw my melted icecream away, tangling your hands in my long hair. Bending down your lips meant mine, again and again. Intoxicated I devoured your scent comingled with the beach, the water, and the taste of your mouth.
I missed you still.
Hours later, I was awake in my chair in my room at the nursing home. I wondered if on the otherside you’d be there to meet me soon. If that same scent that made my knees weak so long ago, could be felt again as you you would smile with warm bedroom eyes and gentle concern. I hoped you and I could be together again in the celestial here-after as we had once been in life; friends and lovers both.
Red was tired, worn out from helping her mother clean up the summer cottage. They had scrubbed it from top to bottom. Now that Red and her mother, Anne, were nearly done, all Red wanted to do was sit back and watch a movie with a bottle of her favourite ‘Red’ — a nice Cab-Sav or a Merlot.
Then, her mom appeared with a picnic basket, “Gina, I know you’re tired and we’ve been working all day, but I need you to take this basket of food down to your Grandma Addy’s house. She’ll be upset if one of us doesn’t at least pop by for an hour or two to visit.”
Red crossed her arms, “Mom, all I want to do is put my feet up and rest. I came out here to relax with you, Dad, and Michael, not to work even harder than I do at the firm. Besides, no one calls me Gina, just you. Call my Red that’s my name , like my hair.”
“Well who do you think your beautiful hair came from? My mother, your Gran Adeline of course. I know you’re worn out but you’re younger and have my energy than I do. I still have to change the sheets and air out the upstairs bedrooms for your father and I, and your brother’s room needs new bedding as well.”
“Make him do it.”
“Mike won’t care. I can’t have his room that way.”
Red grumbled, “Grandma’s a fantastic cook, mom. She makes amazing food for herself. She eats whatever she likes and doesn’t have diabeties even at eighty-three. How about I give her a call and tell her I’ll come by with lunch tomorrow? She’ll prefer I call before showing up,” Red reasoned.
“Err, Red, your Grandma isn’t always as healthy as she likes to think she is. I was down here earlier this year because she hadn’t been able to cook and do a lot of her usual activities. Her arthritis has been acting up. It’s not healthy for her to be too thin at her age and she refuses to take the steroids the doctor prescribed her. She needs the food tonight. I called her and she told me she’s been eating toast and jam for days.”
Red was shocked, “You should have said something earlier, I would have visited Gran Addy before now.”
Anne shrugged in apology and Red gave her mother an angry look tbefore stockng out the front door to her Camry. It was red like her hair and practical. Red was nothing if not practical. It was why she was one of the best associates at her law firm.
She drove as fast as she could down the dirt road to her Grandma’s quaint house. Red gritted her teeth as stones assaulted the sides of her car and sighed in relief when she reached her Grandmother’s front drive and bungalow.
She picked up the picnic basket from her back seat and knocked on her Grandma’s aubergine front door. “Gran, are you there? It’s Red, I have food mom made for you. It ‘s delicious and should tide you over for a few days. I can bring more when I’m over next,” she yelled through the door.
Red didn’t hear a response so she tried the door handle. When the front door opened easily Red grew cautious. She walked inside her grandmother’s front entrance, hanging up her vermillion jacket on a coat hook and putting most of the food away in her gran’s fridge. She put together a plate of chicken, potatoes, gravy, and cauliflower with cheese sauce for her grandma before heating the food in the microwave for a few minutes.
“Adeline?” Red called. “Grandma Addy? I have supper for you from my my mom. It’s Red, Grandma? Are you okay?”
She walked down the hallway and knocked on her grandma’s bedroom door holding the tray with the steaming plate of food and a cup of her gran’s favourite tea. The door swung open on its own and Red realized her Grandma Addy wasn’t in her bedroom. But who was?
Red shrieked when a half naked man came into view stretching his well defined arms and back in front of her grandma’s picture window. The man was covered with intricate tattoos, designs trailing up his well toned arms and back.
He seemed to know she was there and when he turned around Red almost drooled noticing the attractive man’s six-pack abs and mesmerizing shamrock eyes. She had to close her own cerulean eyes to gather herself and not clumsily drop the tray of food. Red felt her grip wobbling as she tried to breath.
The gorgeous tattoo covered man rushed forward to help her. Red noticed his dark hair and inhaled his fresh woodsy scent as he grasped the tray from Red’s shaking hands.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
“No! No I am not. What the Hell are you doing in my Grandma’s bedroom? Where is she? My mom sent me over here to bring her food. All she’s been doing is eating toast all week. So where is she? And who are?” Red yelled.
The man tried to calm her rubbing her arms and hushing her. Red didn’t back down, “You have five seconds before I call the police and tell them you’re trespassing in my Grandma’s home. Guess what else? I’m a lawyer so I’m going to make sure we sue you for trespassing and anything else I can.”
The man sighed shaking his head at Red. She followed him to her Gran’s writing desk, tray in hand. His handsome face crinkled as he gave her a genuine smile and took the tray from her. Red started to shout again but the man placed his hand over Red’s mouth.
“Just give me five minutes. I’ll clear this all up.”
Red wrinkled her nose and grasping his hand over her mouth, threw it away from her.
Then his hand was back over her mouth, “Okay, Miss lawyer. My name is Wolff, Axel J. Wolff. But everyone calls me Wolff. Your Grandma asked me to house-sit while she and my grandpa Reggie went to Hawaii. They used to go out before both of them married their respective spouses. But now your Grandpa and my Nana have died so Addy and Reggie are both enjoying life together. I’m not trespassing and your Grandma did call your mom to tell her to send you over with food for me. I’m pretty sure she wanted us to meet.”
Wolff smiled then picked up the fork from the tray and started eating. “This is amazing. Not as good as Addy’s cooking but much better than my own. Did you make it?”
All Red could do was stare at Wolff suspiciously. Something about what he said didn’t add up. Her Grandma always told her if she was going away. She would’ve mentioned something on their twice weekly phone calls.
“Wolff,” Addy said. “If your Grandpa Reggie lives here, how come I don’t know you? My family’s summer cottage is not far from here on the lake and I remember your Grandpa and even your Dad here in the summer. But I don’t remember you?”
“All the children and grandchildren came down here in the summer for at least a few weeks. I would remember you were Reggie’s grandson. Your Grandpa always gave me twizzlers, but I don’t recall you for some reason, why is that?”
The back of Wolf’s free hand grazed Red’s cheek. He smiled at her taking in her sweet appearance with a predatoral gaze. His eyes swept her face and down her body several times. Red felt her body flush responding to the hunger in his eyes. She couldn’t help but admire his fit body and perfectly structured face. Red bit her lip and Wolff echoed her reaction to him.
” I saw you a few times growing up. You’re around ten years younger than me so that’s probably why you wouldn’t have seen me. Beside, most of the time I was away at military school and then I was in the marines for a while. We didn’t get much of a summer break.”
Wolff set the tray aside and stared into Red’s dazed eyes, “What big eyes you have, Gina. Do you believe me? About Addy and Reggie?
“My name’s Red. Has been since I was eight. I hate Gina. I believe you but how’d you know my real name?”
“Addy of course. Red, would you like to keep me company?” His eyes travelled down her body and up to her mouth, devouring her as he went.
“Whose the one with big eyes now?” Red asked.
“The better to see you with,” Wolff replied.
” I don’t know if I believe a word out of your mouth,” Red said observing Wolff with careful curiosity.
Then his shamrock eyes glimmered and he held out his hand to Red. His smile was indeed wolffish and Red’s pulse raced as he took her small hand in his own.
Lush trees surround me, green and verdant, as I walk out to the lake for a swim. I’ve been doing this for years now, swimming up to the buoys and back, twenty laps every morning.
When I’m on my last lap I notice the usual small boat not far from the buoy and behind it a rowboat. The larger boat appears deserted and I feel my self begin to sweat despite the warm water.
I decide to swim closer to the large boat but then the shock of a sudden explosion on the sinking ship has me diving underwater, swimming quickly to avoid the debree. Coming up onto the water’s surface only a tip of the vessel shows as its final resting place becomes the bottom of the lake.
The following morning I come to swim and there are police and rescue volunteers sweeping the water. This ship was a home for a grizzled man and his wife Stephanie. Somehow she survived the ship’s explosion untouched while her husband died.
Stephanie meets me later at home. I’ve been looking after her for years, protecting her from an abusive husband. We smile and she kisses my lips, “Jack, I can’t believe it worked; I’m free.”
My tires, they’re full of air, we’re driving fast,
Back in the days, driving was a pastime.
*Jantzen – swim suits more like swim dresses from the 1920’s made out of a stretchy thick jersey, not wool as many previous swim suits were made from. Jantzen jersey swim dresses were stretcher than regular jersey material.
*Cloche hats – swim caps with a strap under the chin to hold them on a woman’s head and worn in the 1920’s.
The sun is high in the sky when I awake. A summer sun that leaves you aching for days on the lake, houseboating, cabins, and beaches. I arise with tanned skin from my days vacationing here. Sylvan Lake is a wonderful little place in Alberta. It’s a place that crawls with locals and tourists when the sun first hits it and warms the temperature to a toasty twenty-six degrees celsius in June. The hotter it becomes the more people who roam here. They sit on the grass by the lake, young people in bikini’s and boarder shorts. Also, families with little kids running around and eating the famous ice cream. It melts down their bare torsos in rivulets of color, whatever crazy flavour the kid chose– tiger or bubblegum maybe.
I am neither those young people anymore, nor am I a family. I am somewhere in-between. Young but not college age anymore. I came with a couple of friends and we haven’t been here in years, since those days of campus shenanigans. We are lying on towels on the grass and the sun beats down on us, thirty-five degrees celsius. It’s a hot one today. My pale skin is red from the rays that beat down on me. I never notice sunburn until it is too late. But at least I noticed soon enough that I won’t have blisters or second degree burns such as I had as an eight-year–old in the Okanogan.
I put on my shirt so my shoulders won’t burn anymore and walk out into the lake water which is lukewarm. I walk until my hair goes under. Then I float gently in the water as the sun hits the afternoon crowd with its rays. Kids are floating on little rafts and blow up crocodiles. I hate the lake but it is a balm to my sun burn. I hate the things that live beneath its watery veil. The fish and God knows what else.
I’m out pretty far out in the lake when something pulls on my leg. I swim towards shore but the thing keeps pulling at me. I am closer to shore and swimming faster than I’ve ever swum. My skins aches from the burn of the sun underneath my t-shirt. Then I’m pulled under the water, again, and again. I’m yelling and screaming, but my friends just wave. They cannot hear me. And then I’m pulled down to the depths of the lake. I’ll never see the sun again, the water was my fate.
There is this place where I go where the clouds are like puffs of cotton disappearing into an orange meringue and radiant yellow sunset. The trees stand tall and dark against the horizon and a meandering path leads to tall lethargic green grass and a shimmering lake reflecting all the colors of the sky.
This is my quiet place, my place of peace when he turns my face purple and black. Then like purple and black my bruises go the color of the sunset and the sky. Being here, and thinking about those colors are the only thing that gets me through the day.
I turn my face blank to get through my job, the job that’s never as good as his. I take my son to soccer practice and cheer him on but I’m never as good as my husband’s Mom was to him. I take care of myself. I wear makeup and fashionable clothes that hide the bruises. But nothing is good enough for my husband.
But tonight I’m queen of my lake kingdom. And I toss the still loaded pistol into the lake and find that finally I can relax.
Word Count: 192
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