LISP 4th Quarter 2020 Official Selection, Flash Fiction, 'The Last Summer' by Iva Bezinovic-Haydon
The Last Summer
We arrive at the campsite on the lake, already tired of being together. Still, without words, a well-drilled team, we settle: parking found, awning out, sun chairs open, is anyone hungry? Off to the playground, kids, we'll go swimming later. My husband's having a beer in front of the van, I walk off to explore. The campsite's full of Austrian families with the same haircuts. I come up with a silly joke, but when I return to the campervan, I say nothing. We don't find the same things funny anymore. I watch an elderly couple drinking Weißbier at a café next to the lake. They are smiling at their grandson sitting between them, an awkward pre-teen body, reading a thick novel. Our kids are fighting on the beach. My husband is animatedly reading the news out loud. I pretend to be interested while soaking in the comfortable silence of the three strangers in their quiet co-existence. What am I missing more? The calm or the excitement? "I'm going for a swim," I say, standing, but I might as well have said nothing. My husband continues addressing the audience he doesn't realize he has lost. I dive in, and for a moment, I imagine what drowning in a lake would feel like. My body and thoughts are heavy, my mind's filling up with water. I don't want it to, but our son's laughter pulls me back up to the surface. The campsite's restaurant offers free soup with each meal, advertised on the menu, in capitals, as a "BONUS!". We order three meals between the four of us; we get three soups. I give mine to our daughter. My husband slurps his loudly. It's supposed to start raining at about 10:30 tomorrow. I'll take the kids and leave before then.