by Anna Kalik

Just after the last cobblestone step there is a lake of cornflower blue. At night though, it looks more navy and resembles the Milky Way if it were to be in my backyard. It glistens in any light like a glass bottle and when we’re lucky a swarm of golden honey lightning bugs surround it as if it were home. But I’m pretty sure the only home they know is my teal tinted mason jar with three poked holes and a sideways Birch leaf. My father’s is just the same. And when they glow in the jar it reminds me of flowing caramel so I tape a white printer paper background like vanilla and wonder if they like it as much as I do. About a mile down the lake is a rusted dock built from nineteen pieces of lumber boards. My brother and I had counted one afternoon when we finished our work and decided to wobble down the lake in our father’s pair of rain boots. He wobbled a lot more than I did, and tripped a few times on the dog’s rope leash. I didn’t let him complain of course, because he was the one who insisted on taking the dog. And the rain boots. I remember the way the sun bleached my vision and black spots appeared and disappeared while I used my palm as a hat and advised my brother to do the same. He hung on to the tied rope so hard I noticed his fingers were draining until they were a cream outlined in what looked like rust. Mainly because I had told him to do so since the dog was mine and not his. He wasn’t any specific kind of breed, I don’t think, but his matted black fur resembled those of Labs, or Retrievers. He had that mark on his left eye that always reminded me of a trapped puffer fish, and while his coffee eyes would stare at me his tail would wag like a park swing, and there was always that moment where I couldn’t feel anything at all. This dog I had gotten three months before as a birthday present, and he still went without a name. My father said that didn’t make him any less important. It was as the sun went down when I realized it had been my brother and I walking through the plush mud-grass, and the rope was missing from his hand, fully restored of its original color. I don’t remember from that point exactly how it happened though it went something like my brother had tied him to the dock post so we could walk without the burden. It was some sort of ancient dock post and easily torn. Something I had noticed before when trying to sit on the one opposite a few days before on a fishing trip. I remember I watched that nameless dog fall into the rippled water, frosted and glazed with ice like cement. And as he fell, he flexed to the point where every bone was outlined and every muscle was shaped so perfectly I knew I would miss him when he was gone. The dock post and rope brought him down like a ship’s anchor, and I had him for exactly three months.

An Excerpt from “Lakes Take Lives”

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