This essay is part of the Great Lakes Review’s Narrative Map project.
Heat shimmers off of the lake, creating a strange in-between place that catches my thoughts and turns them into prayers for iced tea. The sun falls onto my dark hair, heating it to a fiery length.
I am floating there, suspended in the green-clear water, my legs pumping above the silt that sucks at my feet below. The fish turn in their lazy circles, watching, silent observers to my grandmother’s satisfaction as she turns her head upwards.
The rays catch her gently cragged face as she floats by me, her inner tube’s plastic surface crashing against the translucent waves as a ship breaks water. Her nose is high, it’s the Indian blood. Her hair falls delicately down her shoulders, the stark white of January cooling the stifling air.
I paddle harder against the distance and grasp her hand, slick with duckweed. The light spills over the top of her hair, gilding her expression as her eyes fly open.
I remember when we were both younger. Springtime, Easter, when I still wore dresses and she still painted her nails, dark red like blood. We looked for bones in the forest, muddy and filled with something unpinnable- fast butterfly wings.
She smiles and closes her eyes once more, the water lapping at both of us from the center of the lake. It bubbles up from somewhere underground, the sweet smell of the earth in its core.
It is cool against my body, but our arms extend across the translucent space and ignite.