I couldn’t sleep. I laid in my hammock, staring at the stars. There were so many of them, way more than back home. My mom used to say that stars were holes in the sky, leading to heaven. I guess I was just closer to heaven there on that island in the middle of Lake George than back home in my crowded town. My hammock was on the edge of the island, next to the splashing, playful water. The tall pines I was hanging in swayed in the cool summer breeze, reaching towards the night sky. I liked hammocks a lot more than tents because I could be outside and free. I turned to the lake.
In the distance, a boat skimmed across the lake, almost silent. It had its lights off, as if to disguise itself, but the full moon shined brightly on the lake. “Come and catch me”, the little boat seemed to say. The stars twinkled in agreement. I slipped into my boots, yanked on a hoodie, tiptoed past my family’s tents, and snuck onto my boat.
The 20-year-old Bayliner had a strong 350 Chevy motor in it, so it could catch up to almost any boat. Fish swam around and under my boat, conversing about the day before and day to come. I untied from the rusty cleats and drifted away from the weathered dock, and fired up the Bayliner. I saw the lights of the small boat in the distance and took off. The 350 Chevy shot the boat forward like a bullet out of a rifle. All 300 horses pulled the Bayliner through the water. The old bowrider seemed to have its own little crew running it. All I had to do was steer. The hull cut through the water faster and faster. I pushed harder on the throttle, creeping up to that 60 mph mark. I remembered last time I went this fast on a boat, it was with my friend CJ, on his boat crazy boat called Brain Child. He and his buddies put in countless hours on that boat, swapping the motor and getting it up and running. CJ had passed away that April. I put the throttle to the floor.
Something about the speck of a boat in the distance told me I needed to catch it. Then, suddenly, it was gone. I was alone on the lake. I stopped the boat and turned up the radio. I laid across the bow, once again staring at the stars. I thought about my family waking up to me and the boat was gone. I thought about the boat breaking down. But then I thought about twenty years into the future. This moment would just be another story, and any consequences would be short term. Always look to the bigger picture.
After about an hour, rays of pink and orange shot over the mountains surrounding the lake, setting the dark sky on fire. Shadows and the early morning light danced with each other. A boat became visible a few hundred yards away from where I was. I drove up to it. It was the same boat from the night! I couldn’t see anyone aboard, but I saw the name of the boat. It was called Brain Child. It was a small ski boat, with only two seats. Not the same as CJ’s, but close. I couldn’t be sure that it was the boat from before, but somehow I knew it was. This little boat had come through one of the stars, from heaven, to remind me to live in the present, not the past. I drove back to my island. Everyone was still asleep, snoring like lumberjacks. They would never know that I went for a midnight cruise across the lake to see an old friend for the last time.