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An idyllic evening on a lake sparks newfound clarity in the narrator

Grass enclosed my feet with every step I took. The sky was pigmented blue, newer than my eyes had ever seen before. The paddleboard meandered with me to the sweet, blue lake, so unblemished that, for moments at a time, I could catch sight of my future in it. The sun glistened on my back. The humid summer air engulfed my being with its touch. Life was leading me to the dream world, decamping all my stress.

The snow-white and crystal-blue inflatable raft I held felt weightless on my shoulders. I was free, acquitted from all conflict. Nature turned from crows to hummingbirds, gale to sunshine, just because of my presence.

The second I docked my raft, a sense of relief passed me, unaware of the relief’s purpose. I can’t help but think I just wanted to feel accomplished. Elevating my legs up on the raft, I felt it depart from the land. It was like I was flying. I conceptualized all the possible creatures that could be splashing about, in awe at all the beautiful fish and tadpoles that slipped out from under me.

My milky-white shoes drifted out of my peripheral. Then the jagged rocks, tracing the shoreline.

I swayed the night-black oar through the lake. Everything felt natural. The final pieces of shore swam away from me as I lay down, exonerated from all previous stress. I admired the atmosphere above me, not a silk cloud to be seen throughout the sapphire sky. The sun was covering me in a blanket of warmth. I felt like a cub with its mother.

Sunset Waves

Skimming my index finger on the face of the water and feeling the humidity, I recalled the beautiful, warm apple cider my mother would make me during wintertime. The shimmering water, no turbidity, the warmth of the lake—it all welcomed me with open arms.

Standing up, I felt like a preacher to the fish. My knees came to my chest as I cannonballed off the edge of the teetering raft into the open water. I could only imagine the fish and what they were thinking—I imagined they felt like dinosaurs when the meteor came down.

Nostalgia flooded my head. The delicate smell of the unblemished reservoir brought me back to California: the beautiful beaches, the humidity on my back, it all welcomed me to the water, welcomed me to the dream world.

My mouth sealed shut, eyes clenched, my hair soared around me like an aura. The water collapsed with my body, propelling the remaining water into the sky. I’m flying, I thought. I’m free. The water swam back together above me. I didn’t open my eyes, I couldn’t open my eyes. Yet I could still discern the creatures around me; the fish were like snowflakes, no two the same.

Still shaking like a dog coming inside from rain, I recognized the auburn red peering over the horizon line. I dropped down on the raft as the sun lay down on the array of trees from across the lake. “My eyes . . . they’re lying,” I felt myself speak before my mind could think. “It’s beautiful.”

As the lake’s essence dripped off of my body, I lay in disbelief. The sunset displayed the truth: I couldn’t just focus on the small bad things in life when I could just open my eyes and see all the true beauty of the world.