He arrived late Friday night at the rustic cabin an hour’s drive from the blustery city. A spur of the moment thing. It was late August and he’d been to the cabin twice since May. Guilt the likely trigger. How could he not frequent such a quiet, sanctuary from the cruelty of the world. Too busy to go. Always too busy.
He flings away the covers, the cool air flushing over him, refreshing. How he used to leap out of bed, to catch the last few stars wink out in the deep violet sky. Age, must be age. His joints like popcorn as he flips his sinewy legs over the edge. Stretch. Ah. How easily the flexibility returns. A faint pressure in his bladder prompts him to get up.
He fumbles his way to the kitchen. Pausing to wonder aloud why he always bumps into things. The furniture in the rectangular, open-plan cabin hadn’t moved since 1975. A flick of the light brings stars to his mind’s eye. The external shutters on the windows might be closed, but likely not. A moonless night. Bodily functions cared too, coffee ready. He sinks quickly into a faraway reverie as the wakening elements of the toaster reflect on the glossy ceiling. His distant eyes brought back to focus by a faint flitter against the panel windows. Several large moths, attracted by the light, carelessly bump against the glass. Memories of bygone evening moth hunts bear a flush of youthful verve. Coffee and toast on the dock!
The creaking screen door echoes in the quiet. He struggles to keep the door from slamming while balancing his coffee and toast. A sweater and jeans might have been cozier than a tee-shirt and shorts. A faint hint of deep indigo hovers in the far east above the lapping, rippled waters. Late summer in this northern lake the sun appears later, cooler. Wet from the dewy grass, chilled sand sticks to his feet as he nearly stumbles onto the dock. A short walk out over the water and he finds an abandoned aluminum chair. In fleeting rush of anger he realizes his brilliant university student, but scatterbrained son, Tyler, the likely culprit.
Impressions of stifling summer afternoon: the course paper of a favored book, in the same chair, on the same dock, the waxing and waning roar of water craft, the ceaseless chatter of seven-year old Tyler splashing about. The calming timbre of her voice.
The gloom invades and expels the memory. A salty sting in his eyes rouse him in time to see his toast splash in the inky water. Returns the dry mouth, throbbing ache. He sets the coffee down, steps out of the chair and lies on his back on the plants of the dock.
Emblazoned stars of the Milky Way bring a sort of, relief. That maybe she, up there, possibly aches as well.