I had a dream last night that it was summer and I was small again. One of those hot, sticky summers when we as a family would go into the Laurentians to the cabin of the Shells.
It must have been that summer before my mother died, I guess. We were on the shaded side of the lake - I was sitting on the damp wood of the dock, close to the shore as Douglas fished off the far end, his back to me and feet hanging into the water. I wanted to fish, too, so I had a green wire net, the kind used for domestic fish in pet stores.
Sitting at the edge of the dock I was next to the stairs that made the steep trip back to the cabin sitting high above on the hill. That cabin with its rusted screen door to the porch and the white and red check pattern to everything inside. That terrifying outhouse that during the day was much too close to the house and at night was always too far.
I saw the minnows, on my sunburnt knees leaning over just a little too far above the water that, when the sun finally hit it, was the colour of dark honey. It wasn’t working. Douglas could see that and laughed. I sulked and copied his posture with my legs spreading over the sun bleached wood and so far into the water I could feel the slimy tops of rocks with my toes.
When I got bored of digging in the water with the net I pulled my legs out and had a leach comfortably between my big toe and the next. I didn’t know what it was but my dad, his hair still black, came down when Douglas called and made a big fuss and I cried, not because it hurt but because of the fuss people made about it.
Maybe it wasn’t a dream but just me remembering.
Summer was better then.