Louis E. Bourgeois – nonfiction

The Lake

My father and I stood over the lake; the lake was small but deep with the blackest water. He was smoking Marlboros one after the other and he looked around at nothing in particular, drinking occasionally from a gold flask he tucked deep in his beige hunting jacket. The pine trees around the lake were so thick that hardly any sunlight got through, even though it was noon and sunny.  I remember him saying, They’d have to pump sunshine in here to get any light at all. I was very young, some gray ducks circled the lake over and over but they would not land because we were there. My hands were bleeding because I’d just cut them to pieces on the screen of an old television set that someone had shot rifle holes through on the shore of the lake. I was scared to tell my father because he would raise his voice in panic and anger. The ducks kept circling waiting for us to leave; my hands bled purple, then my father threw me into the old ’66 teal green Falcon and I looked up once and remember the speedometer needle bouncing around the number 120 as he rushed to the hospital; an hour later uncles, cousins, grandparents, and I can still hear the doctors and nurses mumbling about how lucky I was to not have bled to death. 

If you’re a father, be careful with your voice; it only takes one time to ruin a child for life.