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Amber Paulen

Down to the Lake

I wanted to go down to the lake. I put on my blue swimming suit. I put in my contact lenses. I asked Simon to put sunblock on my shoulders and back. I packed my bag. I brought my book. I set out. I returned: I had to pee. I set out.

I enjoy going to the lake when my mind is feeling dry. I love reading in the sun then going for a swim. If I could do this all summer long I would be extremely happy. I try to go down to the lake as much as possible when the weather is good and hot. Going down to the lake depends mostly on how I am writing.

The path down to the lake is steep, of loose light gravel. Along the path grow blackberries—almost ready. Their green hard clusters are the beacon of tastiness to come. I picked three blackberries on my way down to the lake: one sweet, two sour. I think they need one more day of sun.

Then I slipped, fell smack on my knee and skinned it. I returned, knee bleeding skin juices. Needless to say, I would rather be swimming right now.

I am as a child when it comes to my knees. On this fall I skinned off a dark brown circular scar. This scar, or more like skin damage, I don’t know, was incurred during my first summer in Rome (six years ago?) My right foot caught in the left leg of my extremely big blue pants. A hole was torn and my skin peeled. As I waited for the train I tried to clean my wound as best I could; passers-by scowled at me. I was very broke then and even less concerned about what people thought. I didn’t have a band-aid, all that concerned me was teaching myself to write.

Now I have more than a band-aid, I have a big white square taped to my knee, protecting me. Simon brought me a delicious pistachio and straciatella gelato. But no matter, instead of writing I would rather be at the lake.

Tomorrow I will go down to the lake. I will put on my blue swim suit. I will put in my contact lenses. I will put on sunblock. I will leave my bag packed. I will not turn around to go pee. Down the steep hill I will walk with trepidation. When I am finished swimming and reading and soaking up the sun I will fill my damp towel with blackberries. When I return home I will put them on a cake.

For the remainder of today I will try not to regret that I did not go down to the lake. I will try to forget how sticky I am from the sunblock. I will think about how lovely it will be, tomorrow…


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