For as long as I can remember, our lake has always been out there.
I go to sleep most nights tucked up under a heavy quilt, and what I hear, coming from out of the chilled darkness, are the rise and falling sounds of frogs singing. They get a whole chorus going after sundown, the little ones do, and then when the bull frogs start up later on, adding deep bass notes to the nonstop medley, and as I lastly warm to my bed, I drift off while listening to such soothing music.
A lot of times in the morning, I sit up in bed and look out far across the water, and there I can see a sheet of fog laying over the lake. Often the thin, gray cover rides just above the surface of deep water, with maybe a few thicker patches arching up in some places. Neither one hides from view the tops of spooky dead trees waiting at the distant back edge.
Or sometimes I see strange things out there that resemble angels rising up out of the water, and I get a chill watching the ghostly fingers of fog do their slow dances across the lake.
In the other bed, one of my little sisters stirs under her blanket. I hear momma and her pans in the kitchen, so I jump out and run to her bedroom to shiver and shake while standing on the little heater grate, getting warm while she cooks. I like it when she fixes breakfast, because that means her and daddy didn’t have a fight last night. I promised not to pee down the heater anymore. It stunk too bad last time, and my big sister got really mad.
My daddy got the lake before I came along, but before he had it, his daddy ran the place. Joe died a long time ago, and them two never got along, the way I heard it told. Daddy is dark and has green eyes and thick, black hair, and he never look a thing like his daddy.
Joe, they said, had blue eyes and blond hair, and he left grandma when daddy was first born. He stayed gone too, even after daddy and momma got married.
Then they had my brother, Joe Allen, and without waiting they drove him over to where Joe lived, to show him off.
Joe had took ill, momma told us, and was laid up on his death bed when he saw the baby that one time. She said he took one look, and then he started crying and carrying on, seeing that blue-eyed, little blond-haired baby boy, and then he asked daddy right away to forgive him for treating him so mean all his life. And then he died right after that.
I don’t think she ever liked Joe too much, but she loved the boy Joe Allen. So did daddy, but he hardly ever says much about him. Joe died when he was twelve years old, and I guess it makes him too sad to talk about it.
Momma is always telling us about him, though. I hear her stories told a lot about that day. He got sick one morning and died that same night, from something called infantile paralysis. It means you can’t breath too good. She said that at the end, he sat up in his bed all of a sudden-like, and then he pointed across the room and asked,
“Who is that lady over there, momma?”
She always told how the hairs stood up on the back of her neck at that point, because there was nobody else in the room except them two, but she turned around to look anyway. Of course, she didn’t see anyone, even when Joe Allen insisted some lady, all dressed up in a white gown, had come to stand at the foot of his bed to look at him.
After that, they sold the house and Daddy moved out here to live in Joe’s grits mill with momma, Maria and me.
My two younger sisters were both born here, and we three love this place.