There’s a lake just a few miles away from my house. When I was younger, I’d spend the entire summer out there. We weren’t actually allowed to swim in the water – there were too many weeds growing to see the bottom, and my father was terrified that we would step on something.
Even worse, that we would step on someone.
It didn’t matter that the most we ever saw out there were few grumpy looking bull frogs, or the stray sandhill crane that was passing through. The water was still of limits. My dad would take me out to the pier, though, and we’d spend the morning fishing. It was fun but, really, the best thing was the night.
My mother used to play the violin. She never made it to a professional level, but it was her favorite hobby. In the evenings, when it wasn’t too hot, and before her hands started going bad, she would take me out and play a song or two. Dusk always made her look ten years younger, and there was something magical about listening to her play and seeing the fireflies bounce around above the lake at the same time.
Jimmy bounces around at my side. “Can we go swimming?”
“I already told you that we can’t.” It’s more amused sounding then I mean for it to be. Jimmy’s just as enthusiastic about the lake as I used to be. “We’re just going to look around today. There’s something that I want to show you.”
“You keep saying that,” grumps Jimmy. “Can’t you just tell me?”
“Where would the fun be in that?”
“In knowing if it was something cool,” answers Jimmy, wise in the way that only a young boy can be. To think, he’s already eleven!
I should have come out here with him sooner. I was only six when my parents started bringing me this way. I was just – hesitant isn’t the right word, but it was something close to that. I wanted to make sure that he would understand what he was looking at, and that I was ready to fully explain it.
My fingers tighten around his small hand when the first glimpse of water comes into view. Sunlight turns the surface of the lake into something almost blinding; these rippling waves of green and blue glass. Cat tails grow along the banks, but the oak trees keep them hidden from view just yet.
“Almost there,” I tell him, urging him to walk a little bit faster. My heart beats in time with the words.
Almost there. Almost there. Almost there.
Bada bump. Bada bump. Bada bump.
There’s a violin hanging on one of the trees. Bundles of ferns grow out of the Y shaped branch above it. Moss clings to the strings, but it’s easy to tug free.
Jimmy stares at it with wide eyes. “What’s that?”
“This was your grandmothers,” I tell him. “She was my mom. Do you remember her?”
He nods. “Why’s it all the way out here?”
The sun will be setting soon. A cool breeze picks up. The violin is easy enough to pull down from its hook. “Because this is where she used to play it. Out here, her music turned to magic.”
“Yes,” I ensure him, wrapping an arm around his shoulders. “Do you want to see? I can make light dance above the lake, just like she could!”
Maybe not just like she could. But, still, I want to try.
Written by Katelynn E Koontz