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Opinion

Recalling fond memories with friends by lakeside cabin

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February 6, 2014

Old wood boards creaked and bowed as I shifted in the sun. My sweater hung loose, and sweat rolled down my chest and sides.

I sketched lily pads that lolled on the gentle waves of the lake. Some were in full bloom, their white, soft flowers stretching toward the same sun that made me squirm. Peering up, I saw a silhouette across the lake, a black mass that looked like charcoal in the golden flame the sun made reflecting off the rippling water. I set down my sketch pad on the bench, and walked to the edge of the dock. As the silhouette approached I could make out the outline of my friends Colin and Buddy rowing a wide fishing boat. Buddy stood at the head of the boat, pointing his finger toward the dock as if he were a triumphant captain returning from battle. Colin’s back arched and his head sagged as he fought the oars, hair drooping off his forehead. As they approached the dock I crouched down to help the boat sidle up against the metal poles that supported the boardwalk, its dull gray sides pinging as they made contact.

Buddy looked toward the dock and laughed, jumping into the water instead. His long coat floated behind him as he walked next to me, peering up from the waist deep water. “It’s good to be back,” he said. I responded with a nod as he continued, “Remember the first time we came here, and we smoked out the cabin every time we tried to make a fire in the stove?” I laughed, “I’m glad we get another weekend here.” Buddy waded through the lily pads, picking a flower off of one and holding it in his palm. “We could barely see each other, fanning the doors like maniacs.” Pushing himself up onto the dock, Buddy’s coat dripped and sounded like firecrackers against the dry, weathered wood of the dock. Looking out to the trail cutting up the hill toward the cabin – with grayed two-by fours laid like punctuations along it – Buddy cocked his head back toward me and said, “After this I’m going to be leaving again.” The wind blew, rustling the aspen leaves that cast shadows onto the water. I glanced over to Colin, who was looking out across the lake, his pale, bare chest reflecting the hidden shades of pink and green in the sun. Buddy made his way down the dock, shoes slapping and gushing water, leaving dark stains on the wood. Turning, Buddy walked backwards and cupped his hands around his mouth, “I’ll see you up there.”

I nodded and stood to follow him, but as I stood my pen fell out of my sweater and bounced into the lake. Rolling up my sleeve, I fell prone against the dock, reaching into the clear water. As I fished for the pen I heard Buddy call out again. “It is good to be back.” I was just able to grab the pen with my fingertips, kicking up a dark cloud of silty mud. As I pulled my hand out of the water I winced as my bicep raked against the edge of the dock. A row of red scratches bloomed on my arm. I could feel the marks writhing as if tendrils of flame licked at the flesh. I rolled my sleeve down and tucked the pen into my pocket, turning to respond to Buddy, but he had already disappeared behind the hill.

Al Waisley is a student at UW-River Falls.