The trail reopened and I made plans to leave in the morning. But as I lay in bed the rain got harder and I reconsidered. Then FOMO kicked in and I shot up like a shoot, backed out of my driveway at 5. I always wanted to be that weird guy you see on the trail coming down in the dark just as you’re heading up. Today I was. I broke the webs and entered the forest with a strange morning light coming on and everything electric green, the jungle over-taking the trail, choking it out. What if it were the last time I’d come here, just the sound of the rain letting up, me on my back with a snail inching closer, that spiral on its shell a Crab Nebula…rain gathering on the leaves, weighting them down, slipping off…
I went down into the quarry and my calves burned coming out. I passed people in masks returning to my car. And walked with Lily to the lake later, where the people in that house with the red lamp were having a party, the first time I’d seen them, older, a few couples at tables outside with umbrellas and lanterns, the sun going down behind the lake. Pink champagne on the water. It appeared they were doing a buffet indoors, grab a plate, sit outside.
A group of shirtless boys were shouting on the dock, daring each other to jump in. Some had, and looked white-blue from the cold water, their hair like rats. They were listening to the sounds of their own shouting across the lake as it echoed back. And Lily said they reminded her of a Stephen King story, Stand by Me. She just wanted to swim with a new boy she likes, but it was unclear if and when she’d be able to.
Dawn and Charlotte made pretzels from scratch and I ate five, each the size of my hand. They were glossy, brown on the undersides, soft and doughy. In the morning that emptiness on the road had lost its luster. It just felt empty out. The people at the house with the red lamp had their shades drawn and anglers were pulling up on the dock. Sunday morning. I guess there’s something to be said for the sound of your own voice. It sounds more remarkable on its way back, makes you feel bigger than you are.