The boy sits on the concrete lot that juts out onto the water, his feet dangling over the nook where water meets sand. There is no one on the shore but an old man, oddly dressed in long sleeves, trousers, and socks. The television forecast said steady rain but it has held off, clouds knitting together in the distance. The lake is dark as ash, uneven and unsteady before the storm. He imagines the crests, these wide-mouthed gasps of water, in his bathtub, swallowing him whole, splashing out onto the tile, soaking the soiled towels and bath mat. He looks for fish, but today he has seen only shadows, the receding tide revealing an empty bottle, shells, a spindly rope of algae. There are planks of wood in the wet sand, still as fossils.
He should leave soon, he knows. He has been sitting there for several hours, occasionally rising to run in a lopsided loop around the lot, chasing seagulls like a dog. It is two miles to the house, and he fears walking through town at dusk. At that time of day the only people on the street are men escorting women into cars, families traveling in a pack to the movie theater, their taillights spotlighting his solitary figure before lumbering off into early twilight.
He slams the rubber backs of his tennis shoes against the concrete, sees an object being lapped towards the sand, and pauses. The shape is barely moving, its motions not the quick flips of a fish. He hops off onto the shore and leans closer to the lake’s surface, finding not a dead perch or carp, but something the same flat color as the sand. He finds toes, the slope of an arch. He finds a foot.
He breathes deeply in and holds the air in his lungs. All he hears is the thumping of his heart and waves: the sounds of water lapping against stone, water lapping against wood.
“It’s going to rain soon,” a voice says from above. He jumps back and sees the old man standing on t