On Vacation

The canoe floated on top of the water, light as a leaf. I lay in the bottom, feeling the sun hit my face in the spaces between the leaf cover over head. Opening my eyes every so often, I kept track of how far I’d floated. The rapids were miles away and not a worry, but the long paddle back was a consideration against the deceptive river’s flow.

I’d put the canoe in way up river, where rocky cliffs rise on the far side, like a climbing wall straight up from the water. It moved quicker there, a fun place to start, knowing that the river got wide and lazy a half mile away, and here I was with the canoe rocking like a hammock.

Yes, this was the vacation I’d been longing for. Not a compromise vacation of restaurants and shops in a different location each year, lovely, of course, but eventually it was like eating too much frosting. I’d begun to feel unnourished and ghostlike.

I sat up to skim the water, it was like a bath at the top where the sun had spent the afternoon warming it, but it was at least 10 feet deep here. This was the spot where the bass grew large and wily at the cold bottom, evading my brothers’ hooks year after year. The river was a childhood friend, so familiar and yet much changed. Houses were going up beyond the cliffs and fences were dividing the land. Access was becoming a challenge.

I scooped a brown pine needle out of the water and rolled it between my fingers. The trees leaned over the water, reaching, and I stretched my arms toward them, reaching back.

The Bedroom

She walked in and sat on the bed, bouncing up and down a few times. There were no wayward coils or squeaks. It would do. A baby ben alarm clock ticked the seconds on the nightstand, a wind up model, and she wondered who had wound it last.

She reached for the clock, but her eyes landed on her ring finger and she let the hand fall to her lap. She twisted the rings in circles —they’d almost gotten too big and seemed heavier, as if iron not gold.

Something outside the window caught the sun, throwing lasers of light that blinded her briefly before swinging across the walls, ceiling, and bedspread. She smoothed the worn blue cotton throw, and wondered who had slept here last.

The hours on the road to get here had worn her out. Although the last three were the most fatiguing, they’d been her favorite part. The road followed a river, with rocky cliffs rising on either side. Before coming into town, the river widened to a lake, Loon Lake on the sign, and her deja vu had turned into a memory’s journey back home to Maine where the pine trees filled miles in all directions, as far as you could imagine, they stretched and the loons called their ghostly call in the evenings.

Had she come home? Had she found a home to replace the one she’d left so long ago and yesterday?

She spun the rings on her finger and touched the brown spots on the back of her hand. No longer young, she thought, I have my grandmother’s hands, now, liver spots and all.