The Lake

Shaindel Beers

Bats always turn left when leaving a cave. Even though town is right—even though I know this, I can’t drive past the lake. I turn left onto 18B Road, left onto State Road 10, then left on Nutmeg to get to town. Mark knows what I’m doing. So when I am with him, he takes the same circuitous route, but we still never talk of Timothy. “Let sleeping dogs lie,” my mother always used to say, and I don’t know how to wake this one up.

The brain is capable of surviving for five to six minutes without oxygen, after which it dies. Fifteen minutes. That’s how long the sheriff said Timothy was floating face down under the boat before a driver saw the overturned rowboat and pulled over to the side of the road, called 911. She was a woman in her sixties. “She couldn’t have done anything else,” the sheriff said. “Sometimes these things just happen.”

People who wade into the Dead Sea automatically float. Dissolved salts make the water so dense, humans are less dense in contrast, and so float. The lake looks calm. Like it is the most serene body of water in the world. The run-off from the fields fertilizes the lily pads, and a frog can hop all the way across without ever touching water. The sheriff told us most likely Timothy got his fishing line tangled in the cattails and trees at the lake’s edge. He stood up in the boat, which capsized, and knocked himself out, and was pinned under the boat. “If he had fallen face up, he’d still be here starting sixth grade with my boy next month. Helluva thing,” he said. Then, he put his hat on his head and took Mark outside with him. “This part’s not fit for a woman,” he nodded to me through the screen door. Some day I’m going to walk out into that lake myself, pretend it’s the Dead Sea. I’ll let the dragonflies land on me, the minnows nibble at my edges. I won’t fight back if I start to sink. I’ll know I’m home at last.