The Canoe

Copyright © 2013 C.L. Mannarino
All rights reserved.

“Have you ever been on a boat?” Shay, twelve, asked Clare. She held the canoe still, submerged to the waist in the murky lake water, while the other girls in their Scout troop began jumping off of the dock.

Clare’s bright eyes watched the canoe bobbing in the water. Her fists were clenching the sides of her shirt, pulling it farther down over her neon pink one-piece. “Not really,” she said.

Shay smiled and shrugged, looking at the hollowed out floor and the short paddles that’d been secured under the seats. The smell of her suntan lotion wafted up to her where the sun was burning it off of her already-freckled shoulders. “It’s not that bad. A little rocky, but it’s okay.” She winked up at her friend. Clare had turned and was looking at the other girls where they’d tipped a canoe and started to holler at one another for splashing. “You don’t get motion sickness, do you?” she asked.

Clare turned back around, her short ponytail bobbing. She frowned at the canoe again, but shook her head.

“We don’t have to go anywhere,” Shay said, tugging at the rope securing it to the dock. “We can just sit. It’s kind of cool, just sitting in it. I’ll even hold it steady for you. See?” She grabbed the boat with both hands again.

After a moment of consideration, Clare sat down on the dock. Edging her way to the side, she swung her legs into the canoe until her feet touched down. When it rocked, Shay saw her friend’s legs stiffen and held fast. With wooden limbs, Clare climbed the rest of the way into the canoe until she was sitting on the seat, her hands clenching either side of the boat.

Shay smiled at her and Clare gave her a shaky grin back. “Okay?” she asked.

“Okay,” Clare muttered. When Shay let go and moved towards the dock, she swung around wildly. “Where are you going?!”

But Shay had already climbed onto the dock and was lowering herself onto the empty seat in front of Clare. “Getting in. I want to sit next to you.”

Clare relaxed and they bobbed on the lake for a minute. After a while of watching their friends playing only a few feet away, Clare tapped Shay’s shoulder.

“Could we try moving?” she asked in a small voice.

Shay nodded and removed the rope from the dock. Handing Clare an oar and a life jacket, she braced her legs against the sides of the canoe. “Let’s go,” she said and pushed them off from the dock with a light stroke.

Prompt from: writeworld

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