“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan


the scintilla project. day 11: a story with no pictures and no real plot.

used to be on spring and summer weekends i would drive to a nearby lake and spend the day alone, me and a book and a bottle of not very powerful sunscreen, wayfarers and a chaise lounge, and i would pretend i was listening to music, would put on silent earphones to keep guys from bothering me, from pretending to care what book i was reading.  the day was about me and the water and the sun, and whatever book i'd bought at the gas station's 88¢ used book rack, where i found my favorite book ever -  a short history of a small place by tr pearson - found it as a surprise nestled next to all the romance novels, a gift from the universe.  sprawled at that lake on that white imported sand with a coke next to me was about being alone, alone, oh, and it was about the heat of the sun and the cool-sometimes-cold of the water.  my favorite bikini ever was a strapless pink thing - ruffles for the top and not much else, and me in my 30s still looking damn good; the heat would bake away my thoughts and the words of the book behind my sunglasses would take me away better than calgon ever could.  i did this for years.  some years february was warm enough, other years it was april, and i would grow antsy waiting for spring, the need for that sun on my skin a drug that spelled sanity.  if i was lucky and managed to get a day off during the week, when the lake was mostly people-less, i would push a floatie into the water and float around until it got too hot, dragging one hand  and a foot in the water, letting the fish tickle me with their tiny bites.  one year the lake had alligators; two or three of them wandered up from where the people never go and made surprise appearances, shut the lake down for a day or two, and i always wished they'd sold tshirts - i survived the summer of 1990 whatever it was at lake such & such, with a big picture of a hungry alligator on the back, but they didn't and now i don't remember the year.

it was the lake where i saw way too many tattoos on way too many shoulder blades, and overheard drunk conversations and personal tidbits.  it was the lake where, on a particularly crowded day, the guys sitting behind me discussed the merits and possibility of swimming out to a boat anchored not too far out and just killing the boat's owner, he having more money than they, and therefore more women in bikinis, and fine, hot women they were, discussed in lurid alcoholic detail, lounging about under the sun, talked about just killing him and taking the boat, but they kept drinking beers and eventually the beer knocked some sense into them, temporary as it might have been.

it was the lake where one early morning day when i was the only person on the beach, a family who was camping nearby showed up with their pets, neverminding the no pets sign in the same way i neverminded the no food sign; one of their pets was a kitten and when the young teenage daughter walked out a ways into the water, shoulder high into the fabulous wet chillness, that kitten swam out to her, and climbed up onto her, claws out, scrabbling its way up her shoulder onto her head.  no amount of screaming for her dad to come help could make him stop laughing or make that kitten come down, and she finally had to wade back to shore to convince it to let go.

i would lay in the sun and cool off in the lake and read myself sane, and when i was done i would drive home listening to the classical music station that has now been replaced by a christian music station, because you apparently cannot have too many christian music stations in this part of texas.  i fell in love with a bach concerto, but i don't remember which one.  i got older, i moved farther away, reading began to require glasses, just baby help, +1 readers, but impossible to find sunglasses in that prescription.  i have to get up earlier to beat the crowd and getting to the lake can just somedays be work when i want to sleep late on a saturday morning.  last summer i didn't make it once, though i made it to other lakes suffering through the heat and drought.  i've grown fatter - last year was probably the last bikini this body will wear - and suddenly it is impossible to buy a cheap folding chaise anywhere.

i may not make it to any lake this summer.  i have excuses not yet used.


day 11.  tell a story you haven't told yet.
give it a different ending.
don't tell where you start changing things.
just go.



  1. I love this!!! The perfect rendering of a perfect lake day(s). Yes, those drunk & not-drunk conversations are mini pieces of theater that make you wonder when the curtain went up...
    And thumbs up that you are just now having to consider giving up a bikini!!!
    That has been many seasons ago for me...

  2. Love this, I too chose to write about the beach for this last prompt. So sad that their ending, they encouraged me to dig a little deeper than normal.

  3. Love the images you have created of your time at the lake. It brings back a time many years ago when I also could wear a bikini and lay on the beach. Only baby oil rubbed on my body then, no sunblock to be had. Soaking in that sunshine was just delicious! Oh yes, I do remember.

  4. you are so good.
    i smiled at the earphones not turned on, i do that when i run sometimes. and i never had a bikini body, except in my own back yard, but there is nothing so glorious as laying there, baking in that glorious sun.
    these are fabulous stories.

  5. great post.
    i was right there with you. baby oil. no sunscreen.
    no more bikinis. alaska tan for me: short-sleeve tee and the bridge of my nose.
    by the way: i picked up a fold-up chaise at a yard sale and enjoy the heck out of it during our short summers....

    [i think i'm about the same age as you. still ageless in my mind but the mirror reminds me....]

  6. nice read. nice memories..different memories. where i live, water doesn't warm up to late July! and often the lake shore and water was those of us who had just finished baling hay (the old way, with small rectangular bales, picked up off the field), it was HOT HUMID and we went to the lake with a bar of soap, in shorts and tshirts, and that was our bath for that evening. but your words made me think of it....
    in fondest. Tilda


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