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The End of a Season
by Kim Connington

It's late September, past cottage season.  No whining buzz of boats on the lake, no shrieking children splashing in the shallows.  The fall migration brings a cacophony of birds and waterfowl but since early this morning there has been silence.  A stark contrast to the fury of the breakfast table argument.    Her words were harsh, accusing, biting.   I yelled back, inches from her face.  Her sweeping curtain of dark hair falls forward, hiding her eyes.  The same argument every day for three days, three months, three years. 

The lake soothes us; waves wash over her words, soften and blur the edges.    I row the flat bottom boat through shallow water in the secluded bay on the west end of the lake.   Bulrushes root in sediment; their foliage stands above the surface in stiff spires.  Among the yellow ochre leaves drift free-floating plants.  Roots entwined in a tangled mass, they float in a dense carpet.  The canopy conceals the trailing leaves and branches of submerged weeds.   Anything caught in this underwater jungle would not be given up.  Gliding into deeper water, I lift the oars and shake the tape grass and algae from them.  I look at my hands.  Man's hands but soft and boyish.  Until this morning, I hadn't done much of anything physical.  

Leaving the yellow leaves of the aspen and birch that surround the bay for the forever green of the pine trees that cling to the stony outcrops, I turn left to follow the rocky, northern shore back to the dock.  I stay close to the shore to avoid the pull of the drift.  The rock hangs over the lake; bulbous shapes atop sheer stone walls that disappear into the water.  Here the water appears black.  I don't want to look over the side of the boat.  I imagine all sorts of things beneath the surface.  Body parts - limbs, torsos and skulls - rising to the surface - the black water amber against white skin.  Mossy green branches and tree trunks lie half-submerged.  The curve of a trunk reminds me of the curve of her hip when she lies on her side in sleep.   My hands looked rugged against the taut, smooth skin of her neck.

I glance over the side.  Stonewort and musk grass move under the water, slow dancing in the wind-driven current.  I imagine her hair flowing, not yet tangled.

Kim Connington is an artist and writer.  She is working on the final revision of her first novel.  She lives in Edmonton, Alberta. Contact Kim.