She stole the boat. Didn’t think of it as stealing, not until she was half-way across the lake, nearly out of sight of the dock where the old skiff sat like an invitation, the rope carelessly looped over the railing, not even tied. Well, tied, but in a loose knot that could have unraveled in the wind.
She pushed it a few feet into the lake before climbing in, silently slipping the oars in the oarlocks, pulling back and rowing, rowing, rowing. She rowed with her eyes closed, both arms moving in harmony with each other, and the little boat sliding easily over the still water.
When she opened her eyes, the sun had risen to the level of her gaze as if the great ball of fire knew what she had done and shone a spotlight on her. She didn’t care. She closed her eyes again and kept rowing. When she opened them for the second time, the sun had moved up, off her eyes to her forehead. She could see again.
She pulled the oars up, lay them along the gunnels and lowered herself into the bottom of the boat, her back against the seat and closed her eyes again. She drifted. Sam would have called the lake a glass-off, no current or wind. The boat rocked and drifted, carried and held her without effort. He would have hated her theft, but forgiven her when she told him about the drift, how it held her, how she needed it. She imagined he was floating somewhere too. She’d seen him the night of the funeral—had to be a dream—but there he was, the day they put him in the ground, sitting on the edge of a chair, elbows on his knees, the way he sat when he had something important to say. And then he floated away without telling her where he was going.
She’d return the boat, tie it to the dock as rigidly as she’d return to what she called her life, but for now she was adrift.
© 2013 Kathleen Coskran