peaks echoed with the sound and the blackness was riven with lightening. I lay in my bed and watched, thrilled by the storm, electrically charged by its bright intensity, no other light invading. Even my little digital alarm clock was blank, the power out now. I pulled the blankets to my chin and enjoyed the event.
The storm rolled off the lake like a lover, leaving the area with only sporadic rumbles followed by a hissing sound. It took a moment for it to register, then I recognized the sound of hard rain falling on the water. It was as dark with my eyes open as it was with them shut. Justknowing the electric pump wouldn't work was enough to make me need to pee. I was enough of a girl scout to have a flashlight ready, and the little ecology couplet came to me, “If it's yellow, let it mellow.”
On my way back to bed I glanced through the picture window. The dark ridges of the hills stood out against the darker sky. The only light was Ben's little porch light. Gatsby's kerosene beacon.
The morning sun betrayed no vestige of the night's storm except the resolutely blank face of my electric clock. I was grateful for the gas stove and brought my morning mug out to the porch to start work. My laptop's battery ran out within half an hour and I wished I had someone else to blame for not recharging it when I should have.
I pushed myself away from the table and flopped down on the old porch glider, making it swing with a slightly on-the-water sensation. Unexpectedly without the focus of my solitude, I felt truly alone. If this had happened at home I would almost without thinking have pulled on my shoes and headed over to Alice's for a cup of tea. Or I might have piled the kids in the car and headed to Roger Williams Park Zoo for the afternoon. I would have taken advantage of the situation. Here I was, where I boldly proclaimed I needed to be, yet, without my raison d'être, I was at a loss, and lonely. There seemed nothing left to do but go for a swim.
I paddled around for a little while close to shore, enjoying the smooth, silky feeling of the brownish water, yet feeling less buoyant than when I swam in salt water. We usually spent a week at Narragansett in July, Sean and the kids and I along with one or another of the other McCarthy families. We rented the same place annually, a cottage not too far from Watch Hill. The beach there brilliant white in the hot July sunshine, the waves sometimes aggressive, and the salt water tangy against my skin.
Narragansett. Despite the eight years since it happened, despite wonderful family vacations, the name still had the power to raise the memory of Sean's betrayal. The time we never spoke about aloud, somehow leaving responsibility for keeping the peace on my shouldersbecause I told him I forgave him. But I never went there without him again. Not until now, coming to Cameo Lake, had I left the door open so wide. By leaving him home, I implied a trust I was uncertain I felt. I dived under the surface of the still water and, rising, made for the raft. With every stroke I told myself, of course I trust him. He was younger then, he's a different man now. He is not his father.
Ben was already on the raft when I got there. “You're early.”
I hauled myself up onto the deck. “I'm neglectful, no juice in the battery.”
“Well, I'm just being lazy today. I had a couple of late phone calls and somehow all my juice ran out.”
I looked at him, sitting with long legs dangling over the side, aware of a note in his voice which clanged a little against his flip words. “Is everything all right?”
Ben looked at me with a little glance of surprise at my blunt question. “Yeah, fine.”
I could see the psychological hand held up, holding my natural concern at bay. Don't intrude, I told myself.
“But thank you for asking.”
So, I thought, there was something going on. He was a little like Tim. When Tim had his feelings hurt, he clammed up. A little tight quahog which needed, wanted, a
Courtney Nuckels, Rebecca Gober