Memories of Sunset Lake

 /   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
November/December 2000

By Mandana Nakhai, Illustrated by Zoe Paschkis

It was getting dark. Zoe lay on the hammock on the front porch eating an ice-cream sundae. She looked out at the golden lake thoughtfully. The porch door slammed. Zoe scooted over for her twin brother, Hunter.

“Thinkin’?”

Zoe nodded. She slurped a chocolate drip off the side of the tall glass. Hunter carefully watched Zoe’s gaze drop toward the other white-picket-fence houses ringing the lake.

“I just can’t believe the summer’s over.”

Hunter got up and dangled his feet over the porch, brushing some blond hair out of his intense green eyes. “Well, we can come back next summer. We have to go back to school, you know.”

Zoe nodded, wishing that the summer would never end.

Cool air blew the trees as the twins walked down to the dock. “I just wish we could have done something interesting. All we did is sit around on the dock the whole time.”

Hunter rolled up his khakis and dipped his feet in the water, thinking about what his sister had said. “We did lots of stuff. Remember the beginning of the summer? When we first got to the house?”

Zoe closed her eyes, thinking of the empty smell of the house, the hot sun beating down on her back. She remembered wondering if there would be any other girls her age at Sunset Lake. Another cool breeze brought Zoe back to the present.

Memories of Sunset Lake talking near the water

“Remember the beginning of the summer? When we first got to the house?”

“But we didn’t do anything at the beginning.”

Hunter grinned. “Sure we did. We met Daryl and Kelly. And then we went canoeing.”

Zoe had to laugh. The four friends had rented a canoe for the afternoon and gone canoeing. Only they hadn’t told anyone. A huge summer storm arrived and blew them up on one of the islands. They had to spend the night to wait out the storm.

“We got in so much trouble!” Hunter exclaimed, happy that he had made Zoe laugh. Zoe picked up a shell lying on the dock. “I remember when we collected all those shells.”

Hunter took the shell from her hand. “Yeah, that was neat.” They had taken their shells to the little town nearby for the annual shell festival. A tall man with a truckload of shells had bought one of theirs for one hundred dollars! “I’ll never throw another shell like that one back into the lake.” Hunter extracted his freezing legs from the lake and rolled his pants down.

“We went swimming a lot.” Zoe could practically feel the sun throwing its fiery rays down at the beach patrons. The run, the jump, then the splash were all clear in her mind. Cool water enveloped her, soothing the burning skin.

“Hello? Zoe?” Hunter was waving his hand in front of her face.

“Oh! I just thought of the Fourth of July.”

Hunter looked out at the purple sky, enjoying the memories. All of the Sunset Lake summerhouse renters had thrown a big potluck on the beach. Everyone splashed in the lake and ate hot dogs and hamburgers. The fireworks burst out with brilliant colors and shapes, provoking oohs and aahs with every dazzling explosion.

There was a creak from the house. “Kids, come on in! We have to be on the road early tomorrow, so you need to get to bed sometime soon.”

Hunter turned to face the house. “One minute, Mom!” The sky was black, stars bright with prospect. “So?”

“So, I guess we did have a pretty cool summer.”

Hunter nodded, taking Zoe’s hand. “Yeah. We sure did.”

They walked to the porch, happier than when they had come this way earlier. Zoe took a last look at the sparkling lake, the white houses lining it, the tall trees. She inhaled the piney smell along with the memories that came with. She felt that her happiness was unreasonable, considering she would be back at school in a week, but she couldn’t shake the feeling. “See you next summer, Sunset Lake,” she whispered.

Memories of Sunset Lake Mandana Nakhai

Mandana Nakhai, 11
Tucson, Arizona

Memories of Sunset Lake Zoe Paschkis

Zoe Paschkis, 12
Newton, Massachusetts

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