"Terra Firma"

(An excerpt from an essay published in Illuminación Writing Program Journal, 2016)

The mountain air was crisp and cool, the sun was mild against my skin. The forecast called for rain and the dark clouds, though far off on the horizon, were eager to oblige. We walked along the pebbly coast of the lake. He, dog, and I. We stopped at a clearing where tall evergreens surrounded a small, craggy beach. Tufts of soft, wild grass flourished in the shade of the trees. He took off his shoes, rolled up his blue Dickies, and stood ankle-deep in the warm shallow of the lake.

"You've got to feel this."

Not wanting to trudge back to the cabin in wet socks and shoes, I plunged my hands into the clear water, letting the tiny pebbles that enshrouded the bottom of the lake sift through my fingers.


The next morning was cold, the sky bright and gray. A thin layer of clouds veiled the sky, softening the sun's light. We drank black coffee and ate bacon, eggs, and toast off paper plates while we watched the stillness of the lake from barstools behind glass doors. I turned to him in between sips of coffee.

"I think today would be the best day to do it," I said, "once the rain comes in it might not let up," he nodded.

We donned sneakers and walked down the precariously worn stairs to the lake shore, the dog alongside us. We stood at a small  beach behind the cabin. The dog played in the sand while I cautiously approached the shore and produced a small, plastic bag from my jacket pocket. It still shocked me that ten and a half years of life and so many memories could be reduced to a handful ash and bone that fit into such a small container.

It was much heavier than one might expect, and looked more like sand than anything else. Hesitating, I opened the bag and slowly poured the former body of my beloved childhood companion into the glassy water of the lake. With every lap of the tide, ash and bone amalgamated with the lake floor. She became one with the earth, and she was no longer mine.