On the lake that afternoon, paddling toward the shallow water, I saw the grass rising from the depths as a kind of solace. Yellow then, in the last days of autumn, the tall stalks trembled in the wind. They shook as I did, though not for the same reason.
“You’re not going to drown,” she told me.
My shoulders ached as I drove us into the midst of the gently swaying stalks, as I sought the closest thing I would get to land until we completed our lap back to the beach house’s dock. I closed my eyes and focused on my breath, tried to ignore the heat radiating from my nose, my cheeks, my ears. I’d forgotten a hat, which was almost as bad as forgetting a life jacket.
“Look,” she told me.
A pair of dragonflies were flitting through the grass, taunting a hungry mallard that swam to and fro. Dragonflies were her favorite, a reminder of camping trips with her family, back in the day. We had a dozen dragonfly ornaments on our Christmas tree. It was a thing, those buzzing little buggers, a real thing. I smiled at the thought, though she couldn’t see it.
“Sorry,” she said. “I just thought it was cool.”
I should have told her it was. I should have turned around and showed her the smile that her simple observation had brought to my pained face. It wasn’t the first time that I forgot she couldn’t see what I saw, or the way I saw it. Sadly, it was one of the last.
But, for now, I want to forget all that and remember the two of us in that canoe, amongst the lawn of the lake. The two of us, the duck, and the dragonflies in the moment before we began to row again.
I want to forget everything except what I want to remember. Is that too much to ask?
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