by Nicole Sinna
The only knock that could be heard was not from a human, but from branches off the trees surrounding the quaint log home. They made up for the lack of company Erin never saw. The leaves sang a song to her as a breeze made them dance, and the waves never rushed to shore for it was always there. The chatter of chipmunks and squirrels and birds filled the cool brisk air, making her content with being nowhere near anyone’s sight. She rowed for the fish, and chopped for the heat. She cooked for her cravings, and hunted for the meat. The work made her proud and left her fulfilled because she thought this is what life was all about.
The fog of the morning dimmed the light that shone through her windows. The faded golden glow mimicked the color of her disheveled long blonde hair. It rested on her face as she pushed aside her handmade quilt and placed her bare feet on the creaky oak floor beneath her. She leisurely made her way to her kitchen to fix her usual breakfast: scrambled eggs, toast, and bacon, nothing unordinary. Coffee in hand, she stared out the window towards the glass-like lake and watched steam rise in the thick, humid air. The sun hid behind the clouds and they became darker and heavier as they enveloped its rays. She thought she better go out on the lake now before a storm set in. She slipped on her rain suit, set her fishing pole, grabbed her tacklebox and nightcrawlers then left.
On the shore, the old and tattered canoe patiently waited as gentle waves wrapped around the bottom of it, giving it a cool embrace. She tossed in a ragged life jacket as wind began to pick up and started to entangle her hair. She positioned herself in the canoe and brought it into the lake. This task was no longer a hassle as it once was. An ore in each hand, she effortlessly rowed her way west, only then catching glimpse of the light that still glowed from the cabin. It was too much of a bother to go back for some lousy lights now she figured, and continued drifting on the water. It was much windier than it appeared to be. The waves teased the canoe as they rocked it back and forth with increasing force as she got further into the lake. Steadying herself with the ores, she pushed against the strength of the wind.
As she approached a nook in the lake, she baited her hook and dropped her line in the murky water. She watched the line spin in a blur until it slowed down. She reeled once. Twice. Three times for good luck. She opened the bail and rested her finger on the line, anticipating a bite while coasting slowly and taking advantage of the wind. The sound of restless water echoed in the canoe as it splashed against the sides. She watched the treetops begin to sway more vigorously and white caps started to appear in the middle of the lake. She was startled out of her daydream when she felt a strong tug on her line and quickly released her grip on it, counting to 20 under her breath.
“…18…19…20” She set the hook and started reeling.
“Come on.” she said through clenched teeth fighting on the other end of the pole against this persistent fish. She figured she had never caught anything of this size before and it wasn’t going down without a fight. Snap. Her heart dropped. The line broke. She threw the net down that had been clenched in her fist and sat down defeated, murmuring under her breath.
Wind had picked up and started rocking the canoe recklessly as rain began to dampen her well worn clothes. Failing to stabilize herself she tries to get to shore, but a wave, larger than she had ever seen, engulfed her canoe and threw her off board. Leaving the canoe wrong side up. Waves continued to clash and rush to shore, unbothered. Bobbing on the surface were remnants of fishing tackle and night crawlers dispersed in the unforgiving water. The only other movement were bubbles trailing from below the surface of the rapid waves as a bright red life jacket was tossed back and forth above the frantic water.
Back at the cabin, lights were flickering as thunder rattled the walls. Trees were clashing with each other and branches were struck off limbs. There was no chatter from the squirrel, the chipmunk, or the birds. Just a taunting whistle from the wind as it slithered through the cracks of the cabin. A bolt of lightning struck a tree, putting the warm glow of the lights out inside and leaving it dark and vacant. Lifeless. In flames, the tree deteriorates and lands on the roof, collapsing the delicate cabin and leaving it in ruins.
By morning the sun shone but there seemed to be no life. An unusual silence. The piercing light uncovered rubble left behind, ashes floated in the air, remnants of the once comforting cabin were scattered across the damp grass. Everything was there but no longer in its place. Except on the shore. An indent in the soft ground that once held the canoe was now replaced by frigid water.