The Baby Blue Canoe

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THE BABY BLUE CANOE

Margot sat cross legged, not quite at the edge of the dock. Half the summer had passed and she hadn't put one toe in the lake, but she was drawn to it anyway. She was lured by its beauty - in the early mornings it was a mirror with wisps of mist skirting atop and past midnight she could see the moon and stars doubled in a second vast cosmos. After breakfast she'd watch the children from the cottage next door splash in the rocky shallows. At sunset she'd watch the water skiers cut glass. And yet, she feared it.

The lake had a thousand faces, but Margot thought those faces were all masks. The lake wasn't really blue, when she peered down off the dock she saw what it really was. Black. Once in a while she'd spot a small mouth bass lurking beneath the dock. It knew the lake the way Margot did. Fish always look terrified.

Margot was fond of swimming especially on hot summer days like these ones, which made her fear of this lake all the worse. Last summer in the city she went with her friends to the Christie Pits pool nearly every afternoon. You can see the bottom of a pool. The lake kept secrets – secrets Margot was fine not knowing.

She'd spent her summer watching the lake because what else was there to do? She was exactly 468 kilometers from home. 468 kilometers from her friends, who were most likely at the Eaton Centre, laughing their stupid guts out because Dewar probably jumped into the fountain. 468 kilometers from Kat with her delicious gossip and thunderous laugh. And 468 kilometers from Jonny, her best friend. He'd probably be able to coax her into the water if he were here. He'd joke, "C'mon, GoGo, jump in! Don't deprive the water snakes their lunch!" but his eyes would say Don't worry, I'm right here. Nothing will happen.

God she missed her friends.

Margot often imagined Dewar, Kat, and Jonny with her at the cottage her mother had rented. In this fantasy she's in the lake, but this fantasy lake was blue and mossy green and warm. She missed them, but what was even worse was wondering if they missed her. They'd all be having hilarious adventures in Toronto to be sure. There'd be new inside jokes that you'd have to been there to get. She was out of their orbit now. Fun has a way of erasing everything out of sight. While the opposite is true of being alone. She dreaded that her friends' amazing summer in Toronto, the first summer with their driver's licenses, would erase her completely from their lives.

Her mother should have let her stay. She had begged and begged. Why do I have to spend the summer at the cottage with your stupid friends? And yet here she was, on a solitary finger of planks hovering over a pine lined lake.

One night while Margot was brooding alone her mother had tried to convince her to go play with the other kids.

"The other kids are babies!" Margot cried.

"Oh don't be so dramatic, just go out and have fun." Her mother said, pushing her red bangs from her forehead as she returned to the living room to join all her drunk friends with another bottle of wine.

Margot slid back into her fantasy. She heard Kat and Jonny laughing at something Dewar was doing in the distance. Then she realized this wasn't a fantasy. The laughing was real, but it wasn't her friends. The whoops, giggles, and cheers sailed across the lake, heralding three red canoes that curved around the curtain of cedars on the edge of a tiny outcrop to her right.

Margot perked up and squinted. The three red canoes were filled with three teenagers each. They cut through the water past her dock, off on some adventure of their own. She saw the canoes packed with coolers and tents and some of the teens were drinking beers.

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