The hand extended from the silhouette hunched over in the tiny boat yanked the motor cord and its ignition shattered the pre-dusk silence. Sitting down in front of it and scanning the bags and small suitcases to assure himself that he had not left anything behind in the log cabin, he released the line appending the skiff to the dock with a heavy heart and inched away, water droplets falling like tears from its sides. After all, it was the last time he would come this way.
Still in full-sized view, that two-room cabin, proudly saluting him with its extended, rock-covered chimney, had served as his summer home for decades. But the fall had once again arrived and he would be too old to return next spring.
Night’s curtain seemed drawn a little earlier now. The trees’ velvety green collage was spotted with reds and golds. And dusk carried a chill with it. And so it was for that Vermont island and the man who had vacationed there.
Gray cloud streaks formed a channel through which the sun, emitting a soft, golden light, arced—to the other side.
The man focused on the receding cabin, remembering when he had been young. He had fished from its dock and friends had gathered to taste his catch there. Just where did those days go to, he wondered?
The lake, transformed into a copper mirror as the sun closed the gap to the western shore, became a giant mirror, reflecting the heavens.
The cabin, little more than a silhouette now, seemed toy-sized. It had been to that cabin that he had brought his new bride, introducing her to the simple joys of outdoor life—boating, fishing, and hiking, and then sustaining themselves on what the land had offered to them that day.
Surrendering to fate occurred in successive stages. Amorphous and semi-camouflaged by eggplant-hued cloud, the sun lost all form and shape, transformed by its surrender into eternity, and left the lake a dull blue.
The cabin, now directly across the water and an indistinguishable speck to anyone who had not known that it existed, provided his last blink.
In later years, the hikes had become a little shorter there. His enthusiasm had waned. Many who had gathered to taste the day’s catch were no longer around to do so.
Forging the final link to shore, the sputtering motorboat carried the man–and his memories. His temporary summer home, the log cabin had been the location where he had grown, and learned, and played—where he had unavoidably left a little piece of himself, never to be regained.
He thought about its last image, which had seemed lifeless and devoid of spirit, and wondered: will it still exist, with the same importance it had to me, now that I will no longer be there? Will the world?
Drifting the last inch to the dock in darkness, the man cast the mooring rope and cut the motor’s ignition, leaving its dying sound and the boat’s dissipating wake. Gathering his belongings, he stepped on to the shore—on the other side.