There’s a car accident on the road just outside the lake, today. Smoke, sirens—the whole shebang. Not quite the scenery I expected when I swam out here. In my peripheral vision, a tow truck removes an accordioned Toyota out of the side of a burning Mazda. Or Infiniti? There’s not enough left of it to tell anymore.
I float on my back and close my eyes, but whoever said “out of sight, out of mind” never used their other senses. I can still smell the ashy remains of the fire. I can still hear the buzzy whine of the tow truck pulling the Toyota’s broken nose out of the fiery mess. And the burns and the blood and the bodies, though completely theoretical, are very much in mind. Too much in mind, to tell the truth. And whatever I can’t see is filled in for me—a car seat bent in half, a pair of legs broken and torso-less, a face’s blank eyes, then…me? It doesn’t make any sense, but I see myself pinned by that Toyota, head slumped to the side.
I paddle away from the wreck a few feet. This lake isn’t exactly the haven it was when my dad died. I can’t hear the crickets or the ducks—only the tow truck. Not like when he had his heart attack. It must’ve felt like a car slammed into his chest when it happened. Must’ve felt like that until he died, anyw—
A wall. Think of a wall with a padlock. Or a dam—a huge, concrete dam to keep me from drowning. Like that kid last year. Happened in this lake, even. There was a hole in his inner tube, and he went under while his parents were busy yelling at each other about burnt burgers or something stupid. And he just died. Seventy years swallowed up by the same lake I’m floating in. A whole seventy years. That’s at least fifty more than I’m supposed to have. Supposed to.
Oh, God. My limbs flail. My hands and feet kick and slap and splash the water. The lake’s still hungry, and I’m on a silver platter right now. I dog paddle with frantic strokes until I’m on the shore, crawling to my towel, making sure to look away from the accident and the lake.
Okay, forget the dam. I’m a cloud now. Clouds have no weight. They don’t sink, and they don’t crash. And they certainly don’t get tumors.
There’s a wasps’ nest in a tree not too far away, and their damn buzzing won’t stop.
Cloud. I’m a cloud, now, thousands of feet above the stupid insects.
I’m a cloud, goddammit. A cloud in the sky—just like where St. Peter’s Gate is, cancer patients lining up for their eternal rest.
I pick up my belongings and start running away from the nest. The smell of fire and water haven’t gone away, so I keep going.
There’s no way those wasps followed me. I’m sprinting now, but I can still hear the
My hand starts to vibrate and tingle and—light up?
Oh, it’s just my phone. I stop and drop the rest of my stuff.
“Good afternoon, this is Dr. Gettleman for John Richards. We have the results of your MRI scan.”
Written in response to Weekly Writing Challenge: 1,000 Words