People by Alex Nasekin

The Trail From The Cabin To The Lake

by W.C. Fleischman

The chair barely fit him anymore. The trail, which led from the cabin to the lake tempted him, but he waited until he heard the screen door to the cabin slap behind her. Across the lake, a fisherman’s small trolling motor sputtered and coughed. He steadied himself on his cane, and pried himself up. She came alongside and took his hand. She was ready but he was not so sure.

A little dog followed behind, wary of the rocking motion of the small dock, while She helped her father step carefully into the back of the small aluminum boat. He sat heavily down into his swivel seat, primed the fuel line and pulled on the small Evinrude’s cord. The old motor made a few false starts and then, on the third try, smoothly idled while she loosened the mooring ropes and stepped in behind the steering wheel. She gently lifted the small dog in and with a glance back at her father and the cabin she shifted into forward and steered the small boat toward the end of the lake where her mother liked to watch the loons nest, and raise their young. When she cut the engine, her father lowered the anchor.

The inlet of the lake was quiet on a weekday and they waited for a sign or some sound which would guide them. A tremulous call from one of the birds told her what to do. She reached into the pocket of her windbreaker and pulled out the jar of remains. She held it in her hands over the water and seemed to be praying. Her father looked straight ahead past the jar, his eyes sullen but at peace. A breeze from the opposite shore swept over and whipped at the loose grey hairs which had escaped the braids of his pony tail. She looked back at her father and he nodded with a sad smile. His eyes were wet and tired.

Grey dust and pieces of ivory and bone slid from the jar and settled in a cloud over the feeding beds where perch and trout wavered in the current below. A few fish flashed at the whitest pieces of bone and darted back in the weeds. Her father pulled out a small silver flask and took a long swig with his eyes closed. She did the same. The small dog slept while they waited for another sign.

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W.C. Fleischman attended the University of Oregon Creative Writing program. He has published work in Cutbank, Redneck Review, Earth First, and the Missoula Independent. He lives and works in Missoula, Montana.