Previously published in the Aurora Journal and Eunoia Review.
It’s early sunrise when our Volvo finally stops.
Out the window, the sky hasn’t yet birthed
blue. You’re still asleep, strapped into your leopard-
print car seat, head leaning against the strap.
When I was nine, ten, eleven, there was nothing
more beautiful than watching the lake’s first wet yawns
at dawn. The thick-chested frogs leaping awake.
The fishing spiders slipping through dirt. Glass-
winged dragonflies diving, kissing the surface algae,
swooping away. Those summers, the lake was alive
and colorful and home. Everyday I jumped,
splashed, swam in those waters. Last night, I found
an old photo beneath my three-legged
nightstand. Pink and orange reflecting onto
the lake’s surface. The bottom half of the sky
and the top half of the lake formed two wings
of a halved butterfly. This morning, I knew
I had to take you there. You’re awake now,
hands rubbing your eyes. I pick you up from the seat.
Carry you. When we arrive, there’s nothing
here. No pink-orange surface. No frogs.
No water. All that remains is a giant crater left
in the ground like a paw print. The water long-
dried-up, leaving behind only a layer of crushed rock.
Where’s the lake? you ask. The sky only now starts
to turn blue. I don’t know, I say, looking up
at the sky. It’s warmer than I remember.
Maybe we drove to the wrong place.
Daniel Boyko is a writer from New Jersey. His work appears in Teen Ink, Blue Marble Review, The Daphne Review, and Navigating the Maze, among others. He serves as Co-Editor-in-Chief of Polyphony Lit. Wherever his dog is, he can’t be far behind.