Did you hear about Jake’s cabin? It flooded from that storm a few day’s ago. The foundation is probably destroyed.
It really flooded?
I wasn’t sure if I was hearing him correctly.
I step outside with my cigarette, needing to smoke, trying to process the news.
Jake’s cabin. A bunch of us used it. Abused it. Used it some more. If I close my eyes tight, I can still see the empty wine coolers on the porch from the weekend. I could see a group of us playing that god forsaken board game on the kitchen table. I could see the airy living room and the rustic furniture and the yellow rug and the broken clock by the window. I could see the turquoise paint in the guest bedroom that was beginning to fade.
And the ripples. The ripples danced in the lake beneath the sunlight to a rhythm that was succinct but free all the same.
I could still hear the singing by the bonfire, and the clarity in Kara’s voice, even when she was drunk and not taking herself too seriously. I could hear the cicadas talking at dusk in their private language.
I could still taste the sweetness of the peach cobbler from the bakery in town. I could taste his cold lips from our hike in the woods. When nobody was around.
I recall meeting him for the first time, unaware that he’d remain in my life to this day.
Telling me that he wants to get married.
Telling me that Jake’s cabin flooded.
May as well join you out here, he says quietly. He lights his own cigarette and stares out onto the expressway. Rush hour. People going about their business. Doing a little of this, a little of that.
What are you thinking about? I ask.
Funny how our minds may gloss over the messy parts; we cling to the good because it’s easier and clean.
I could still see the expression on Mel’s face when she found out that Jake slept with the girl down the road. I could see her tear-stained cheeks.
I could still hear the strained silence during grilled cheese dinners with everyone. I could hear the incompatibilities wafting in and out of the autumn wind.
I could still taste the bitterness of our inherent differences. I could taste the sour inside my mouth.
I suppose distance guides those parts farther and farther away.
You know, I wonder if he’ll find a way to repair some of the damage, he muses. Maybe there’s a way to save it.
But his words came out empty. He peered at me, already knowing what I’d say.
I hope they don’t, I reply.
I hope they leave it be.
I hope they just leave it be.