Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Boat

We sat in the middle of the small lake, afloat in a small row boat, dreaming small dreams in our child-sized minds and bodies. My dad sat silently. His tall thin body reminding me of the growing summer saplings across the waves. The customary cigarette hung from the side of his mouth, his eyes glaring at the line of his fishing pole sitting unsatisfactorily still, the little worm on the end of the hook punctured and drowned for some time now. A large puff of smoke erupted from his mouth like a volcano exploding ash. "Enough of this," he growled, pulling the line in with the quick pace of frustration and disappointment.

Setting the pole on the curved floor, he turned to face us, picking up the oars, ready to row to the near shore. A smile spread across his face and we shrunk back. My dad never smiled unless a mischievous thought burrowed so deep in his brain that it could not be removed by any means known to man. Oars bounced on the bottom of the boat and his smile grew larger. His arms reached toward us. Long arms that would be unforgiving if it reached its prey. His fingers encircled my waist and I was caught in the snare. "It's time to learn to swim." I could hear the cackle of a madman hidden underneath his usual laugh. It filled my ears until the water pushed it out.

My sister splashed next to me. We dove for the side of the boat, swallowing more water than we moved. We bobbed up an down. The boat moved as if through strobe lights. "Sink or swim," he called from a greater distance. Reaching out and kicking, flailing our limbs in any direction, taking deep breaths in the moments our heads were above water, we slowly began to swim. If not, I'm sure he would have let us sink.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

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