5/24/2010

Climate Change


Back in the day, we lived in a little neighborhood of cottages clustered around a lake. It was a summer community, a silver lake, an inviting place to come to escape the hot summer sun. But we lived there year-round, even when the lake was white with ice, its black inhospitable depths lurking below. We weren’t alone. Several families braved the winters in that summer place, not because they wanted to look out at the cold and unfriendly landscape, but because that was what life was, a four-room year-round place.

One winter day, around dusk, a knock came at the door. It was the mother of a 10-year-old neighborhood boy, asking, “Is Joey here? He hasn’t come home.” The words were like a stop sign, stopping the heart, stopping time, stopping all thoughts of dinner. She went from one door to another, asking the same question at every house where Joey had a friend. None of these few wintertime residents answered, “Sure, he’s here. Come in, get warm, have a cup of tea.”

At one house, however, one of Joey’s friends said they’d played together that day. "I said bye to Joey a while ago, and came home. Joey prob’ly beat me, though, ‘cause he took a shortcut.” Joey lived on the farthest edge of this almost empty summer community, and the long walk home in the near dark must have been scary. So he’d taken a shortcut.

The next day, we heard the news. Joey’s shortcut through the dusky light had turned into a shortcut through his life. The gaping hole in the ice atop the tarnished silver lake told the story of a small boy’s failed attempt to outrun the dark.

It was strange, but somehow summers on that sparkling silver lake in the small summer community were never warm again.

7 comments:

Grandmother said...

How heartbreaking for his family and friends! I'm sure time there wasn't the same again. You were all changed.

PattiKen said...

Mary: Indeed. Heartbreaking all around. I will never forget the sight of my nine-year-old son, standing at the kitchen table reading the newspaper report of the death of his friend. No child should have such a tragedy in his life, just as no child's life should end so soon in that tragedy. I was sad all over again just writing about it.

Brian Miller said...

oh man, chilling...cant imagine sliping below the ice and being unable to get out....tragic for his family and i imagine all those involved...

Tari said...

oh man!

I've lived in a community like that myself. I hope I never have to live that story too.

LceeL said...

When we were kids, we used to spend our summers on the Lake, at my Aunt's resort. There was a siren on the water tower, in town, which was at one end of the lake. We used to HATE hearing that thing go off - because we knew what it meant, having learned all about drowning kids in the summer of 1951, when two of our friends never came home. To this day, those loud, long wailing sirens one hears give me the creeps - and take me back to 1951. Just like that.

Alice Audrey said...

That'll put the fear of water into you. How heart breaking to be the mother.

mxwll said...

"The Rest is Silence" Bill Shakespeare.