Sara abandoned her wine, carelessly plopping the glass on the sun-warmed deck, while she watched an unforgettable drama play out on the lake. The waters around the row boat shot ripples across the glassy wetness while two men struggled in the tiny craft. Clearly, one reached for the throat of the other, only to be pushed back by a magnanimous display of defiance encased in swinging fists and harsh words loud enough to reach Sara's ears. Dad and Jake were at it again. Fishing rods lay askew on the deck and an abandoned beer bottle, empty and overboard, jiggled along the disturbed waters.
They fought every time the two started drinking, but this episode was different. She had never seen such anger, the kind that could blow the top off a hot cooker. She had to stop them. Kicking off her shoes, Sara dove in the water.
With each stroke, she strained to see what was happening. In one glance, she spied her brother, Jake, fall into the water. And she felt the ripples belting against her in the wake of his enormous weight crashing into the lake. When closer, she tread water to pause and watch the scene. Her father, no small man himself, was hanging over the edge of the craft, his big calloused hands pushing down on Jake's head, forcing the fellow under water. Jake fought back.
Her dad suddenly spied Sara in the water and let go, his arms flying up in an air of surrender. Her brother, clinging to the boat and gasping for breath, followed his gaze. Seeing her, a shadow of guilt whooshed across his face.
"Hey!" her brother said, acting like nothing unusual had happened. He reached for his father's outstretched hand and crawled into the boat dripping, next shooting her a boyish grin, accentuated by wet hair plastered on his forehead above bouncing blue eyes.
"What are you doing here?" Her father heaved a humongous sigh and glared her way.
"I saw you two. You were trying to drown him!"
Jake chuckled, a tiny nervous giggle, too lightweight to hoist any real meaning. "You're crazy. We were just monkeying around."
Father merely glared her way. Sara, tired from maintaining her own in the water, looked backed in dismay. It was always like this. The two would drink, try to kill one another, and when she showed up, they denied it. It was her feminine presence that changed everything. When she came, they stopped, no doubt to protect her innocence. But what if one of these days, she didn't show up. Then what? Her blood iced over at the prospect. But they wouldn't talk to her and would never say what was wrong. They walled her out.
The two were waiting. Waiting for her response, and probably hoping she would go. They'd never tell.
"Monkeying around, I see," she said, turning to swim back. "Fine. Don't be late for dinner."
Copyright 2009 JO Janoski