The Black Lake

I was fourteen the year my father disappeared into the Black Lake. A kayaker had spotted him, lingering there along the shoreline. The sun had started to set, turning mountains black against the gray sky, and my father was in his suit, holding his briefcase. There was a thick fog, but the man in the kayak told us he had seen my father dive in.

My name is Flea and my father’s name was Chick. Two little names for two big men. My mother wanted to make sure I would take after him; that I was marked. My father was going to change the world.

We moved to the Black Lake because my father had gotten a good job at the university lab. We found a house just a short walk from the shore—so close that moisture condensed on our tall front windows in the morning. Water clung to the thick brown shag on our floors. It sunk into our bedsheets.

My mother moved her collection of erotic throw pillows into our damp basement—single breasts with fluorescent red nipples, cotton penises, twirls of thick stitched pubic hair, butts. She had crocheted them herself, and told my father she was going to try and sell them one day.

“There’s a market for them, I know it,” she told him. She had wanted to do something productive. She had wanted to contribute. But once she piled them down there, they went musty from the moisture and the pinks and reds and purples of them speckled over green.

My father spent long days in the university lab with a vast tank of brackish water, in which he deposited a small plastic triangle. He spent hours watching that triangle move across the tank, recording every millimeter of progress. He was working on a new form of sustainable energy, based on the diffusion of salt water to fresh. According to his plans, the triangle should move on its own along the boundary. He likened it to sliding down a hill—almost like gravity, he explained. My mother and I nodded our heads, believing.

“Imagine one day,” he told us over a late dinner of cold leftovers, “canals as wide as streets, and boats that can take you anywhere for nothing.”

My mother, already changed into her pajamas, said, “I don’t deserve you!”

The night my father disappeared, I was in our kitchen with my friend Rollo. He had curls down the back of his neck and was good in civics and debate when he made an effort. Too often, he spent classes mocking the way our teacher Ms. Simonett put things in air quotes—peace sign fingers stretched straight and waggling, like she was tickling something we couldn’t see. Rollo stretched out his own peace sign fingers to tickle Maple Valentine—she had let him touch her breasts.

Rollo was over and together we were drinking two liters of ginger ale and grape soda. I guzzled half my jug in one go, and Rollo laughed at me.

Fourteen was the year I had gotten thirsty. It started with a hotness behind my ears, then a scratch in my throat, a raisining of my tongue, and then panic. I would close my eyes and imagine myself stranded and alone, deserted in some dry, desolate place. I would suck the roof of my mouth until I could get water. At school, I had started wearing an insulated hydration pack all the time, holding the straw between my teeth even when I spoke. I loved feeling the cold water gush down my throat, warming in my belly. I would think of it filtering on, into my arms, into my fingers, cooling my blood.

Rollo thought it was hilarious. He took tiny sips of his grape soda. For him, indulgence was a kind of currency—to be saved up and spent. He abstained from too much of his favorites. He savored every little thing.

“So I’ll enjoy them more later,” said Rollo.

“Whatever,” I said.

I reckoned all that’s why he had broke things off with Maple Valentine.

“No more,” Rollo had said, “Not for a while.”

He wanted to really want it first.

That night, my father didn’t come home, and my mother paced the floor until the sun spilled over the lake.

“He’s left me,” she said, “He’s left me for a better wife.”

My mother sat down at the table with her morning muesli, took one bite and drooped over the bowl, asleep.

“He’ll come back,” I told her. Her eyelids fluttered.

When he didn't come back the next night, we called his lab and then the police and we learned what the kayaker had seen. The police dredged what they could of the lake, though the middle was deeper than their nets could reach. They told us he was probably down there, and that in all likelihood he’d resurface when the weather changed.

“Maybe he’s not,” I whispered to my mother, “Maybe he got away.”

“I drove him away!” said my mother.

A few days later my father’s briefcase washed ashore, full of mathematical papers leeched through with lake water, and most everyone took this as proof. Alive or dead, he was gone for good. I pictured my father floating there at the bottom of the Black Lake, his dark hair swaying with the current, his arms outstretched, little fish dabbing at his eyelids with their tender mouths.

When my father was still at home with us, he often asked me to sit with him. He liked me to watch while he worked his equations. He spread his papers across the kitchen table, and scratched out numbers in a notebook.

“Look,” he told me one night, weeks before he disappeared, pointing at a number five, a diagonal line.

For minutes, he sat and did nothing. He let out a breath. He yanked at his beard.

“What?” I asked, but he didn’t answer me.

At school, I was taking basic geometry. I had gotten a B- on my last progress report.

“Oh!” said my father, drawing a curved line.

I scooted out my chair. My water pouch was low.

“Wait,” said my father, “Please. Stay.”

He pointed to an equation, to another line, and then he looked right at me, tenderly. For a moment, I forgot my thirst.

“Do you see?” he said.

“See what?”

“The waves.”

He pointed to another equation on the page, and then slid his finger across a graph, up and down, up and down.

I sat until I couldn't control my yawns. Until my eyes watered. My mother watched us from afar, crocheting a pair of baby blue testicles.

“My passionate boys,” she said.

My mother liked to tell me how I took after my father. I was just like him.

When my father disappeared into the Black Lake, my mother stopped sleeping in their bed for a time. I found her in odd places in the house—on top of the dining table, in the basement beside her moldy pillows, under my own bed. Every morning I would wake her up.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

She told me she didn't know.

Before, my mother liked to keep the house quiet, to preserve a good workspace for my father.

“I want him to want to be here,” she told me.

After my father disappeared, Rollo came over every night for a month. My mother didn’t mind it. We did what we wanted. We drank root beers and cream sodas and he demonstrated what he had done to Maple Valentine on my mother’s crocheted breasts.

“Like this,” he said, and pressed his whole hand, palm centered over the cherry teat of it. The pillow wafted mildew as he squeezed.

My mother was usually asleep during these visits, but sometimes she would come out and say hello.

“That Rollo,” she told me, “I like him.”

But Rollo had questions about my father’s experiments, he wanted a discussion. He liked to have me explain the way my father tried to harness the energy. He tried to question it all.

“It’s in the diffusion,” I said.

“I don’t get it,” said Rollo, “It seems impossible.”

“Yeah, probably,” I said. Agreeing with him felt like the thing to do. Only later on did I question it for myself—when I was alone in the bath, or staring at a glass of water. I watched tiny specks of things drifting around, swirling. I wondered what it was my father had felt when he looked at his triangle. If it was a better feeling than love—better than marrying my mother, or having me. If maybe it was better than any feeling I had known.

After that first month, Rollo told me he needed take some time to practice his debate. I knew then that he had gotten sick of me too, and I wondered if this was how Maple Valentine felt.

At school, I waved to Rollo in the hallways, but we did not stop and say hello. Often then I saw him standing with another boy, talking close and low.

In civics class, Ms. Simonett got angry at me for talking with the straw in my mouth.

“I can’t hear you, Flea!” she said. I took a long sip.

“How are you going to inspire change in the world if no one can hear you?” she said.

Ms. Simonett sent me to the guidance counselor, a man with a zen water fountain on his desk, gurgling under his questions.

“You’ve had a hard year,” he told me, “Can you tell me about it?”

I looked at him, his bald head. There was a set of framed photos on his desk—what looked like a mother and daughter, eye shadowed and lipsticked, blonde hair in symmetrical halos, smiling against backdrops of diamonds. I took another sip.

“Well,” he went on, “Can you tell me what you like to do?”

I shrugged at him.

“Can you tell me anything about yourself at all?”

I sipped long and hard on my straw until it sputtered and came up bubbly. It wasn’t that I was trying to be rude. I just didn't know what to say.

On the way back to Ms. Simonett’s class, I stopped in the bathroom to fill up my water bag in the sink. I stood there as the water ran cold. I let it overfill the bag and spill back over my hands. In the bathroom, there was a small window, the frosted glass stained and peeling. The stall doors were old and made of cheap wood. I took a pen and etched my first name into the last one, closest to the wall. FLEA, in all capitals, through the waxy coating on the door, down to where the wood became dry and powdery. I pressed and pressed until I was sure it was permanent, carved deep. Still, the people who read it probably wouldn’t think of me. They’d probably think it meant something else.

“You and your father are so much alike,” my mother had said our first night in the new house, “You swing your arms the same way when you walk.”

“Is that all?” I said.

The Black Lake was about eighteen miles around, and about fifteen- hundred feet deep in its center. It got its name from trout fishermen who paddled out to the middle and stared down into its black depths. When the air was clear and windless, the surface of the lake turned glassy—shining back mirror images of the surrounding mountains, melting into a silver sky. In health class, we were told stories of young drunk teens who swam out into the dark waters at night and did not return. In the summer, the shallow water along the shore felt warm enough, but farther to the middle, the muscles would seize up from the cold. It only took minutes to go hypothermic.

I wondered if my father was scared when he dove, or if the fear came later, once he began to sink. I wondered if he regretted doing it, leaving us. The water filling his lungs and dragging him down.

“But maybe he’s still alive somewhere,” I told my mother again, two months after he had disappeared, after all his colleagues had paid their respects. After they had all dropped by in their bifocals and their khakis that were too long, that got caught under the treads of their shoes.

“He might still come back,” I told my mother.

“I think it was because my eyebrows are too close together,” she said, “I think he got sick of looking at me.” She was crocheting an anatomical womb, complete with white, lacy fallopian tubes.

“Did you know I taught him how to kiss?” my mother told me then. “It was only a matter of time before he realized he was too good for me.”

The next day, I skipped school and ran the circumference of the lake, all eighteen miles of it, looking for anything, any clue missed by the search parties, by the police. Anything floating along the surface, even remotely father-shaped.

When I got home, I was so thirsty that I stuck my head under the kitchen faucet and I drank and drank and drank.

Later I came to my mother with my tongue lolling, asking, “What’s wrong with me?” and she thrust an armful of woolen genitals at me and said my body was changing. She told my my father had always had more important things to do, and so when I was ready, she would show me all the good places to touch.

“But that’s not what I meant,” I said.

“But it’s too important not to know.”

That night I dreamed I was my mother, peeping at my father through the hole in our front door. He had come back, still dripping from the Black Lake, knocking, asking to come in. He had figured it out, the diffusion problem, and oh, things would be better now. He was ready to prove his love.

I woke to my own pounding heart. My mother wasn’t in the house.

I looked in every room, in every closet, behind the bags and boxes still in our basement, but she wasn’t there. I thought then, maybe she had left too, maybe she had gone off into the lake to find him herself. But on the roof, there was a rustling. I went outside.

My mother was up there, eyes closed in sleep, but moving, fidgeting, and standing upright. She was in her pink nightie, her hair in a thick braid, frizzing.

“Even if he came now,” she said, in a voice I could barely hear from the ground, “I would still take him back.”

I climbed, and when I got up there on the roof, she stumbled towards me. I carried her down, inside, and placed her in her own bed. Sleeping could be a lot like drowning, I thought then. At some point, your body takes over and you just can’t help it. I took a piece of yarn from her crochet kit and tied one of her wrists to the bedpost so she couldn’t get out again.

If my father came back, he could go to work in the lab again and finish what he started. He could figure out the exact specifications his triangle needed to propel itself forward, and he could scale that up and up and up, until one day he could take us all out on a boat of his own design and as it floated us around, he would spread his arms in a grand sweeping motion, out to the wide world. “I’ve done this all for you,” he would say, “This is all yours.”

Or else if he came back he could stop his work. He could give up. He could realize that the likelihood of his idea to work for the mass market was tiny, because how do you scale up such a little plastic thing? He should have known physics didn’t work so easily. He could stay home with my mother. He could brush his teeth and cook her breakfast and she’d stop asking, “At what dress size did he stop loving me?”

Even if he did show up with a new wife, I thought then that it would be better. He would drip onto our doorstep with his new lake-wife, a younger, better, smarter, kinder version of my mother with gills in her neck and webbing between her fingers, and my mother would slam the door in their faces. She could move on then, find someone new who would pay attention to her. He could give her foot rubs on the couch, and she could push him away and say, “You’re stifling me!”

But maybe my father left because he knew he couldn’t figure it out. Maybe he knew he wasn't going to change the world—he wasn’t as smart as people thought he was. Maybe he couldn’t admit it.

Near the end, my father spent less and less time in the house. He came home late and left early, a trail of dirty clothes in the hall, the only evidence that he had been there.

“I miss you,” I heard my mother tell him one night.

“Think of mankind,” said my father.

Soon, the air shifted. A cooling. Steam rose from the surface of the lake into the air. I was drinking straight from the sink regularly by then—filling the bathtub and lapping at the lukewarm water like a cat.

And then one day, Rollo showed up at our door.

“Hello,” he said, “I’m getting married.”


I invited him in. I gave him a Sprite, but I just drank water. Over the past months I had come to find anything else only made me thirstier.

“Why are you getting married?” I said.

He took a drink from his can.

“Do you know what’s going to happen when you die?” he asked.

I thought maybe he knew something about my father.

He continued, “What’s going to happen to your soul?”

Rollo told me that he had found God. He had been spending a lot of time with a new friend, a boy in the grade above us who carried his bible around from class to class in his hands.

“I asked him about it,” Rollo told me, “and he invited me to church.”

There, Rollo had seen grown men twirling in the aisles while the choir sang out hymns. He had seen young girls struck down to the floor, only to wake giggling. He had watched church mothers tell the future, and he accepted it all as truth.

“Do you know what it feels like,” he said, “to give yourself over completely to bliss?”

I took a sip of water. Along the far wall of our kitchen was a series of family photos. My mother, in her wedding dress, looking somber, meditative, nose tipped downward, calmer than she’d ever looked in her life. Me, as an infant, soaped in the bath. My father, holding his diploma, posed like he didn’t know the picture was being taken. Next to those, a snapshot of the three of us on a hiking trip. My mother’s hair had been caught in the wind, kicked up like a flame, and I was next to her, squinting. The sun washed us all out—but my father most of all— like even then he was starting to disappear.

“God has been so good to me,” said Rollo, “To me and Orla both.”

“What about Maple?” I asked him.

“It’s Orla now,” he said. He had met her at the church, standing outside after services by the lemonade table. She had her shoes off, and one leg triangled against the other, spreading out her full skirt between them. She kept the flamingular posture while Rollo introduced himself.

“Blue-eyed Orla,” Rollo said to me, “My soon-to-be.”

Orla was in the grade below us, only thirteen, but Rollo told me they had gotten both their parents to sign off on the marriage. I asked him why, why now, why at all, and he told me he had learned things, terrible things, about young people who think they can wait, but can’t. Ones who push things too far too fast.

“And that’s how we get birth defects,” he said, “That’s why there’s so much suffering in this world.”

I took another sip.

Orla would move in to Rollo’s room after the wedding, and live with Rollo’s family until they both finished high school and could get jobs.

I told Rollo congratulations, that I was happy for him, but when he left, I stuck my head under the bathtub faucet and drank the hot water until it ran cold. When I came up for air, I still felt thirsty.

Five months after my father had gone missing, they wrote us from his lab saying they would have to discontinue the study. Without my father there to oversee things, they couldn’t secure enough funding to go on. His research assistants expressed their regret, and their own desire for closure. By this time, we knew the likelihood of finding him at all was miniscule.

But when she heard about my father’s study, she yanked her string until it snapped. She ran out of the house and down the short lane to the water’s edge.

“Chick!” she yelled, “Chick!”

But it was a name, with its short vowel sound, that didn’t carry. It was such a silly thing to yell.

“Chick! Chick!”

I ran behind my mother, breathless in my bare feet on the frozen earth.

“He’s going to hate me for this!” she said. “I needed to be smarter. I needed to think more about the future!”

Once, my mother told me that when she was pregnant with me, she had prayed for me to turn out just like my father. And because to her, that didn’t seem foolproof, she also wished on every star, every fallen eyelash, every serendipitous green traffic light for the same.

“Your father had so much to give the world,” she told me, “I didn’t want to get in the way.”

As I walked my mother back from the shore, she told me again how much I was like him. But all his life, my father only loved his triangle. But I could never be so narrow about it. There was too much to love in this world to only pick the one.

At home, I looped a stronger strand of yarn around my mother’s wrist. The thick cotton kind she used to suture clefts, to secure bulges.

Rollo’s wedding happened at the end of winter, as the ice on the surface of the lake began to crack and bubble. They married in the church, paper snowflakes affixed to the ends of each pew with wide, white ribbons.

My mother sat next to me, untied and teary, and she whispered about how my father should have been there to see it.

“Your father and I used to go swimming,” she said, “before we were married. He liked to hold me, and for me to cling to him in my little swimsuit. Your father was all over me back then. He couldn’t help himself.”

Orla walked down the aisle in a veil so thick, she had to hold tight to her young father’s arm to avoid knocking into things. When Rollo pulled back the veil, her face was flushed red. It looked like she had been holding her breath.

I studied Rollo’s face as he saw Orla. There was a resoluteness to him that I’d never seen. A gravity. He was staring down the rest of his life. Watching him made me feel far away. Things could never go back to how they were before.

There was a short lunchtime reception, but after their first dance as man and wife, Rollo and Orla made a quick exit. I imagined Orla trying to stuff her big, lacy dress into Rollo’s bedroom closet, pushing aside the baseball bats and hockey sticks to make way. I wondered what it would be like to have a girl, a wife, in my own bed. Tucked into my plaid sheets, smiling at me. I thought of touching her, my hand to her chest like a magnet. There was something shameful about it. The closeness. I thought of my mother who would share a wall with us, who would sit out in the open, weaving the semblances of three-pointed crotches. I took a sip from my straw.

When the weather began to warm, and my father’s body still didn’t lurch to the surface of the lake, they told us he had probably sunk far too deep to ever come out again. The Black Lake was so deep, and the water sat in layers that did not mix. It had been hundreds of years since any shift had occurred. Below the black surface was a strata of water that created vastly different ecosystems. Fish that swam near the surface would die fast in the salty, stagnant underlayer. Whatever dropped that far below, we were told, was best left there.

“He needed someone kinder,” said my mother from the couch, “Someone more productive.”

In the next room, I licked the condensation from the windows.

“But when we first swam together,” my mother shouted to me, “he had to stay in the water to take care of his boner!”

My mother fell asleep there on the couch, and didn’t wake up for three days. On the third day, I found her there with the string tangled tight around her neck, turning her lips an awful blue. I unraveled her then, my hands large and strange against the taut-pulled cotton. I lifted her by the shoulders and I shook her.

“Mom!” I said, “Mom!”

And when she gasped back to life, she told me I had saved her. But I hadn’t. I had tried to save her before, up there on the roof. Since then I thought I’d been helping. I untied her then for good, so it wouldn’t happen again.

At school, I saw Rollo and Orla sit together at lunch, a thin gold band glinting from each of their left hands. They were eating matching cheese sandwiches cut into neat sections, but they weren’t speaking. In Ms. Simonett’s class, Rollo kept his hands to himself. Maple Valentine had asked to change seats. She sat closer to me now, and I tried not to look too often at her breasts. I wondered if Rollo still had time to practice his debate at home, or if Orla had put him up to other things. I wondered if Rollo’s parents still enforced a bedtime.

That afternoon, Rollo showed up on my porch again.

“Flea,” said Rollo, “I’ve sinned.”

“What?” I said, lips curled around two straws now, I had doubled up on my hydration packs, “Come on in.”

Rollo told me he had gotten sick of Orla fast.

“She has no opinions of her own. She can’t hold a real conversation,” he said.

He told me how she had thrown out half the stuff in his room and asked to paint the walls. And she was always in there. He had started taking longer and longer showers just to get away from her, but soon she started following him there too. The last time, she had soaped herself up, leaned against the wall of the shower, and asked, “Whad’ya think?”

When Rollo didn’t say anything back to her, she started crying. She asked him why they had to move in with his parents. Why couldn’t they move in with hers?

For months, Rollo had lived this way, until he locked eyes again in civics with Maple. Until they skipped fifth period together and fucked in the girls’ bathroom, because Rollo was a married man now, and he only wanted to do married things.

“I couldn’t help myself,” Rollo told me, “I don’t know what to do.”

“You don’t love her,” I said, “Orla.”

“Probably. Yeah.”

Sitting in his lab, my father had tracked a plastic triangle as it moved, millimeter by millimeter, on its own. I wondered if as he sat there, watching it, he knew how many things in this world happened freely—without us even trying. The trick was just to wait long enough.

Rollo did the honest thing, in the end. He fessed up to Orla about what he did, but by that time, Orla was two months pregnant and not going anywhere. She forgave him. She told him she was trusting God.

The last time I saw my father was in the middle of the night. I had gotten up for a glass of water and I heard his key turn in the door. His khakis were rumpled, his shirt was untucked, and his hair stood in wild tufts. With me there, in my pajamas, I reckoned we almost looked like mirror images of each other— big, dark, disheveled.

“What are you doing still awake?” said my father.

“I was thirsty.”

There was something startling about the way he looked there, standing by the door—something off. He seemed less packed together, like some of his parts were missing. Already then, he looked like a ghost.

“Sleep tight,” he had said.

In civics class, I tried hard not to look at Maple. I didn’t want to think about what it would have been like to have sex in the girls’ bathroom at fifth period, and what it would be like to touch her—to have her touch me. Maple had a quick way of answering Ms. Simonett’s questions. She had long arms and fine piano fingers. Her handwriting was wide and she pressed down hard on the page. Sometimes Ms. Simonett even had her write things on the board. Maple had a nice way about her, but she had gotten quiet. She answered Ms. Simonett’s questions in a softer voice.

But when Ms. Simonett turned her attention, pointing her air-quote hands, tickling them right at me, I didn’t hear what she said.

“Flea?” said Ms. Simonett.

I only looked at her—my mouth still around my straws.

“Flea,” she said again, “Explain to me your impact on the world when you act this way.”

I looked at her, coldly.

“How are you going to thrive?”

The rest of the class looked at me like I didn’t deserve them, with their eyes side-cocked and their hands half-covering their faces—even Rollo in his shame. The posters on our walls, with their bright colors and their slogans of encouragement, and the ones displaying the constitution and the branches of government that Ms. Simonett covered during tests so we wouldn’t be tempted to cheat—I hated them all. Maple tapped her fingers, but I wrapped my lips tighter.

And I don’t know what I thought would happen, but when Ms. Simonett said my name again, I did not answer, but I stood and pushed my whole desk over, abruptly, and it toppled hard because of the chair attached and the little metal grate for books underneath vibrated even after it crashed into the linoleum. And because I was closest to Maple, the desk got her leg—not enough to hurt bad, but at a hard clip that would bruise because I was big for my age and I did not know my own strength. Maple cried out, and I could see on Rollo’s face that he wanted to go to her, but he did not.

“Out!” said Ms. Simonett.

The next day I would come back and I would apologize to Ms. Simonett and the Maple, and I would stand up in front of the class and say I regretted my actions. But just then, I left. I ran down the empty hallway—my heavy steps echoing against the lockers, my two straws flapping behind me, their limp rubber joggling as I went. I ran all the way home and when I got there, my mother was awake.

“You should have kept him here,” my mother said to me. “After everything, he should have known it was you!”

As spring turned to summer, my mother twisted herself up in the sheets of her big bed and didn’t get up again. I tried to wake her. I kicked her bedpost and I pulled back her eyelids. I pressed on her wrists and I yanked her toes. And yet, she kept on breathing.

“Mom,” I said, “You have to wake up.”

I poured a glass of cold water on her head but she did not stir.

“When your father proposed,” my mother told me once, “he could barely get the words out—I had to help him. It was the only time I ever saw him cry. What could have happened since then?”

Here we both were, still in the house, still by the lake, waiting.

“Come on!” I screamed at my mother, “Do something!”

The hot pricked up behind my ears. My throat itched and narrowed. I thought of that lake, and I ran, without my shoes, without my hydration pack, down to the water. I waded in waist deep, and even then, in the summer heat, the cold made my bones ache. I touched my lips to the water and I drank, tasting the sulfur, the chloroplasts, the raw earth. I drank until I felt the silt in the back of my throat and still I drank.

My father had been gone for almost a year.

I drank and I drank, and as I tasted the gum of fish through the water, the minerality, the salt of the strata, I still thought of my father. I wondered if, maybe, on that final day on the shore, he had actually figured it out. If he had dove in knowing what he had set out to learn—if he had traveled for miles and miles between the layers of the lake, moving naturally, slowly and then quickly along the boundaries. He could have gone on forever that way. Gone to the other end of the lake, emerged on the shore, and gone on to other, bigger lakes. Right then, as I was gulping down mouthfuls, he could be advancing across oceans, moving farther and faster and feeling in his heart that he had truly done something great.

And still, with my mother asleep at home, I drank. For days and days, I swallowed lake water. I drank until I reached new ecosystems, until I struck up sediment that hadn’t seen the light of day for centuries, the cold of it filling me. I drank until one day, I reached the bottom. What fish left alive flapped in the mud, and I looked around at what I had done. Surrounding me were the remains of sunken boats, abandoned cars, and ancient trash. There was sludge and sand and the sediment of a thousand years. Not far from where I stood were the remains of a small airplane and the bones of a mammoth.

I walked around the lake bed as the mud on the bottom cracked and dried into hard angles. I searched through all of it, and my father was not there.  

Copyright © 1999 – 2019 Juked