Saturday, July 30, 2011


"You shouldn't swim alone," the woman standing on the dock said as my head broke the water's surface and I swiped a hand across my face. "Especially at night," she added. "You haven't changed, have you?"
I blinked and rubbed the lake water out of my eyes with my fingertips. Standing in water up to my neck, I gazed at a woman dressed in jeans and a white T-shirt.
The full moon over her shoulders made her look like a tall, shapely silhouette standing above me. I blinked again. "Kathy...?"
"Who else?" she said. "And you, Jimmy O'Connor—don't you remember our parents telling us not to swim at night? Never swim alone."
Oh wow! Kathy Logan!
Years ago, she was the bratty kid from the neighboring cabin—our families bought cabins on Mystic Lake. Kathy and I harassed each other all summer, every summer. Night and day.
"How'd you know I was here?" I asked.
She laughed. "I heard splashing. I looked over through the trees and saw a light in your cabin. Figured it had to be you. When did you get in? I spotted a FOR SALE sign in your yard."
"An hour ago," I said, and swam closer to the dock.  I saw the same sign in your yard. My folks have passed away—"
"Mine, too," she said.
We paused a moment, remembering—it was hard not to. Then I said, "Before I sold the place, I figured I'd spend a month or so here, enjoying a little quiet time."
"My thoughts exactly."
I climbed out of the water and onto the dock. We hugged briefly; she didn't seem to mind getting wet. I caught the scent of her perfume—lilac—and I felt my heart beat faster. We eased down onto the dock, our feet dangling. The last time I saw her—like fifteen years ago—she was probably fourteen; I was sixteen.
"Cold?" she asked. "Looks like you're shivering."
I gazed at her in the moonlight. Short, dark hair. Full lips. I remembered her eyes being sky-blue. "Night's warm," I said. "I'll be okay in a second. Tell me about yourself."
She said she was a high school art teacher; she'd just finished her MA; she hoped to complete a few wilderness paintings this summer while living in the cabin. She concluded with, "Divorced over a year ago."
"Sorry about that," I said.
She shrugged. "My ex is long gone, and I've survived, but I'm still trying to put that terrible time behind me. What's new with you, Froggy?"
I laughed. "Haven't forgotten, have you?"
"The frog you stuffed down the back of my dress when I was leaving on a Sunday morning with Mom and Dad for church—how could I?"
"But you got even. Worms in my sack lunch when our families visited the Indian burial grounds."
We both laughed and agreed that those summer days when we were kids were some of the best days of our lives. "Last I'd heard," she said, "you'd graduated from college, head of your class, and had a fabulous corporate job."
"I work for a big chemical company—it's like being on a treadmill night and day. Not married. No time." I explained that the company had asked me to be an assistant in research and development. I'd travel overseas a lot. But lately I'd been asking myself if I really wanted to continue my climb up the corporate ladder.
"What did you decide?"
"I took a leave on absence," I said. "I'm trying to figure out what I really want to do."
She nodded slowly. "My divorce, your job—sounds as if we're both at a crossroads."
"I'm thinking seriously of quitting," I said. "I'd like to teach—like you. Science, though. I want to write a novel about corporate intrigue. I've got a laptop, printer, and reams of paper up at the cabin."
We fell silent, but crickets chirped on shore. Under the glow of the moon and stars, the lake looked as if diamonds danced on its surface. Kathy said wistfully, "Funny we should meet again after all these years."
"Destiny." I smiled. "I think we should make the most of it—get your swimsuit. Change and jump in with me."
She shook her head. "Better idea. I haven't eaten, you probably haven't, either. I'll light the grill. Burgers, chips, and a glass of wine."
I jumped up, grabbed her hand, and pulled her to her feet. Her hand in mine sent a warm tingle rippling though my body. I know she felt the same tingle—and that she was thinking the same thing I was: Together this summer we might figure out our lives. I knew this because she squeezed my hand, cut me a dazzling smile, and said, "We can save swimming for another night."

The End
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