A rainbow of oil trails in my wake as I pass along the water. I watch the sun reflect a thousand colors in the slick. I do not fish. I set a slow pace. I try to make no waves, to fool the lake into thinking I am not here. I drink cheap beer and save the aluminum tabs for a little boy who lives on the floor above me. He has cancer or something. I don’t remember.
A lake rat with greasy hair and thick, smudged glasses holds up his beer in a silent toast as I coast by him. I don’t want to talk today, so I pretend not to see him. He is fishing, but he isn’t holding the pole. The line lays slack in the brown water. I see his eyes linger on my stretch marks. I am skinny enough look good in my bikini again. He saw me often enough when I was fat; he offered to carry things for me.
I pass the lake rat and reach the cove. I cut the engine. It grumbles about it. The oil will pool around me as I sit for hours staring at the shore. I am an artist with a rainbow-colored brush. Watercolor. I gaze at the yellow house. Shade from the sweet gum tree lends it a gray air. It looks cold in the afternoon heat, but I do not shiver. I have learned how not to shiver.
Time eddies like my cigarette smoke, and I do not know how long it is before the front door opens and a woman with huge sunglasses backs out of the yellow house. She is pulling a lime green stroller. Something small stirs in the blankets under the spangled canopy. I start the engine. I need its company. I need its noise to drown the sounds I make.
Coming back to the dock, I pass the lake rat. He screws up his face and asks where my little one is. He pats his gut suggestively. I pretend I don’t know what he’s talking about. I wave a fishing rod at him and do not speak.
I am going to sell the boat and dye my hair bubble-gum pink. Or perhaps lime green.
Jessie Peacock’s work has appeared in Sand: A Journal of Strange Tales, DOGZPLOT, and Beyond Centauri. She writes with two dogs in her lap and blogs at http://jessie-peacock.blogspot.com.