A toy car, sun scorching off its tin-can roof

Methodically inching its way to freedom, perhaps. Or probably Heaven.

Inside flimsy, air-conditioned doors, excitement rages; a bubble expanding, doubling, as Heaven, sweating on haunches, approaches

Maybe your Aunt Verna should have bought that plastic curio, “Life Stops Here”, bearing the much less than extravagant pseudonym, “the Lake”.

And then a great mass- a jumbled assortment- of proud, yet not quite regal, mountains, flanked by a vast stretch of blue, glorious blue.

And our bubble bursts.

Miscreants, mischievous villains of loud, or just plain “kids” (whichever you prefer)

Butts-out-of-seats and as rowdy and riotous as an excited mob, we sing and laugh as we are enveloped, swallowed whole, into the best five days of the year.

One-hundred and twelve, sun-kissed and fried faces

But we dance into the night, and the outside world is gone

Five days of time-travel, or maybe I should say time-freeze; hours slip through our fingers like grains of diluted sand

And somehow the world still turns round

While we go to Heaven and back.

“Who is buying today?” we chatter to each other, for ice cream is the only way to beat the heat.

Counting out softly crumpled dollar bills and reluctantly handed over change,

Our foursome settles onto plastic chairs with flies and discarded Tecate cans, along with the remnants of a breakfast that was quickly stuffed down, the sooner we could get to the water.

A deep rumbling seeps from the back of the boat

And Derek drives.

Wind whipping our cheeks into crusted brown

While chapstick is incessantly pressed into valleys of fiery red lips

And we all embrace one another in a shared love when the grapevine whispers it is time for the boat again

Somehow we grew up

Us and our silly phrases and immodest bikinis and that let-loose sort of dancing we all enjoy

As we balance and the boat is fast and sticky lemonade trickles down our arms while pop tunes drown out our voices

This is The Lake.