Somehow I missed the sunset. The changing of day into night. We had been outside for fifteen hours. I should bet I’m not alone. In this folding chair, sitting with a seashell in my hand. I’m subject to high tide. My chair’s legs consumed by beach sand. The lake’s water at my lap.
The beach closes at nightfall but we didn’t leave. Hours earlier we saw hundreds on this stretch, now deserted, littered in their tracks. Each morning the beach is combed by tractors. On three occasions I’ve seen them starting as I head out. The beach would become a landfill if they’d not do this. Out of season the beach is left to nature’s will; in the Winter the lake freezes, the shorelines cap in ice and snow, an awesome specter until melted; by Spring the beach is hideous, mainly garbage and fish corpses.
The town of Addison ensures this every summer. They spend a good amount of money to groom the sand and make it nice. The lake is tremendous. Its beaches are marked by sand dunes. The water has waves and people surf them. Thousand-foot freighters have shipwrecked in this lake. This lake is so huge, it is virtually a sea.
I have no idea where they went. Behind the sand dunes possibly. Behind the sand dunes runs Jasper’s Creek. In the afternoon we swung on a rope swing over Jasper’s Creek. Right before the delta in which I am seated, in this chair. If they’re at the rope swing, they’re nearby. I don’t hear voices but I believe I heard a plunging noise. The splash of somebody jumping in.
A shark crosses my mind. In the afternoon a stranger at the rope swing was yapping about sharks to his friend. He was saying that he wouldn’t go in the water; and I first thought he was referring to an algae bloom unless the quality of the lake’s water in general. The lake is notoriously polluted. I myself find this concerning. In the course of this day I’ve probably drunk a half glass of its livered water. If I’ll feel sick tomorrow I know what to blame. But he was saying sharks. And his tone was sincere. But unaffected. As if because he knew how to eliminate its risk.
It didn’t worry me. Nor did it worry his friend who promptly jumped in. I had either misheard the man, or written him off. But now I wonder. If it could be possible. To even get here — a shark — it would have to swim up rivers, and doing that it would swim in freshwater. He had seemed though so serious, acknowledging theses barriers cogently to a would-be lake shark. I figured that he didn’t know what he was talking about unless it was an inside joke of his and his friend. The notion had seemed to me, and still seems to me, not possible. But if I had heard him correctly they swim up the Saint Lawrence. It resonates with me now that the stranger was knowledgeable.
The lake is remarkably warm. It’s shallow, in this delta, which is partially why. The middle of it I would guess is ten feet deep. Heated by the sun all day. It’s middle of July, the middle of night and it feels like a bathtub. A clay-browned, stewed, murky bathtub. Spilling into a virtual ocean. I haven’t heard one splash since deciding its sound. Maybe they’re sitting on the bank. Smoking cigars. Watching me, discussing how out of it I must be. But I can’t tell. I can’t see beyond this point. Jasper’s Creek, betwixt by trees is a vast, dark tunnel.