Short Fiction ~ Bruce Meyer
Second Prize, Strands International Flash Fiction Competition - 9
Did I remember the path beside the lake where the maples bent over the cinder path and reminded her of a cathedral she visited in France when she was ten?
There was no path beside the lake.
“Yes,” she insisted, “you were there. We walked slowly. You held my hand. Wind rustled through the leaves. You said it would rain by midafternoon and it did.”
We had never been to such a place. I reminded her of the beach, the hot July sun turning sand into a frying pan in the late afternoon, and how she was afraid her water-puckered feet would blister if she walked to the cottage without her sandals.
“Did we hear the ocean?”
“All day,” I said.
“Did I burn?”
“No. I put lotion on your legs. I rubbed your arms and back with it, and you went back to sleep.”
“Then? Then did we walk beside the lake?”
“There was never a lake.”
“But I remember the canoe, the paddle dipping in the water, the trail of silver droplets making haloes in the still surface, and how afterwards we stood on the verandah of the lodge and looked up at the stars. There were so many stars.”
I wanted to tell her that she could only live one life at a time in her mind.
“You are thinking of a time I was not there.”
“But you were there when you lit a taper and touched it to the wick of the candle. You passed your finger through the flame and I was amazed it did not burn you. You told me to try it, but I was afraid. And when a moth that had gotten caught between the screen and the inner window flew free when opened the sash to let in some night air, it headed straight for the flame. It frightened me, and to calm me down you told me to make a wish.”
“What did you wish for?”
“I wished that you would always be with me. We would walk along the cinder path beside the lake and listen as the wind moved through the trees.”
“I wish there had been a lake.”
“But there was, and I wished that if you could not be with me in that moment, that wonderful moment when I felt so alive with you holding my hand, that you would find me again, and you did.”
Bruce Meyer is author or editor of over sixty-three books of poetry, short fiction, flash fiction, non-fiction, and literary journalism. His next book of flash fiction, Down in the Ground, will be published by Guernica Editions in 2020. He lives in Barrie, Ontario.