Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Nurse the Hate: Summer Rental

The end of the old dock was slippery.  The cold water shocked him.  His brain yelled out as he slowly sunk into the greenish blue.  He had not been in the lake for almost one year.  He remembered the smell of the algae and faint smell of decaying fish.  He exhaled forcefully as he tried to get used to the cool water.  He kicked to maintain his place as he stared back at the lake house.  Autumn was coming.  It wasn’t here yet, but it was sneaking in.  The mornings were cold now.  Fog rose up from the small lake.  It was the dreaded End of the Season.  He would have to go back to the city soon.

A year ago he had rented the small lake house with his then girlfriend.  They had spent the summer doing nothing.  He had told everyone he was working on his novel.  Instead he spent the summer drinking cheap Italian white wine and watching her hair gradually turn from brown to gold in the sun.  Her eyes shone a brighter blue against her gold hair as the summer begrudgingly rolled on.  They quietly made love in the attic bedroom where the ceiling fan squeaked a counter rhythm to the ancient bedsprings.  He would fall asleep afterwards with her head on his chest listening to the dripping kitchen faucet.  They played scratchy classical records the previous renter had left behind while doing meal prep, pretending to be better and more sophisticated versions of themselves.  It would be the best summer he ever had or would ever have.

He had rented the house this summer hoping to either rid himself or embrace her ghost.  Neither had happened.  He had taken a job washing dishes at the town diner.  He didn’t need the money, but the rote nature of the work felt monastic.  He would sneak cigarettes with the waitresses when the lunch rush was over.  He spent the wages on scratch off lottery tickets and six packs of local microbrew.  He didn’t win one cash prize and also managed to put on eight pounds of pure beer weight.  He liked it.  It made him feel more real somehow.  Things had become odd.  The solitary nature of his lake house summer had made him disconnected.  He would create small confrontations in town to prove he still existed. 

He swam back towards the house.  The dusk left an orange hue on the water.  The old ladder attached to the dock swayed back against his body weight and then thudded back against the seaweed encrusted pole as he pulled himself out of the water.  The evening breeze blew cold against his skin.  He had forgotten a towel.  He padded down the old planks of the dock onto the grass of the bank.  He would light a fire in the 55 gallon drum fire pit tonight.  He would work on his novel.  He was at the part where the hero would leave the lake house and return home.  He would somehow find the girl and make everything right.  He wasn’t sure how to get there in the story.  He cracked open a beer and looked out onto the lake.  It was getting dark earlier.   


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