Matt only knew this because he liked to go sit by it when he was feeling especially introverted, and the smell of mossy rotting wood was oddly comforting. The lake was always calm and green, and the dock was the on the side where no toxic green sludge grew, so he was content to spend hours just sitting there. Colt didn't like the mosquitoes from hell, and it was far enough away from the buzz of the town that no one ever walked down there. He could be alone.
just him and the dinghy.
to be honest, he could've sat anywhere. The salt and pepper granite bench that crumbled to the touch. The fallen log across the way. Even the end of the dock had cushions for sitting. But no...he liked to sit next to the dinghy, staining his jean pockets with mud and other decomposing things. He really wasn't sure why. In his mind's eye, it looked like an over-dramatic album picture or senior photo; he tried his hardest not to look thoughtfully into the distance, but you know how hard it is when you're being introspective and the moment is just right.
Maybe it was because the dinghy looked so lonely. Tucked away from the rest of the town, it was left to rot. Not even the boathouse claimed it when the town activists complained about the rubbish. Nobody wanted it. Nobody cared.
and as emo as that was, Matt couldn't get that idea out of his head.
that he and a beaten up old dinghy had more in common than the rest of the world.
he doodled in the mud with a stick one lazy Tuesday afternoon. Cicadas buzzed heavily in the woods, and for the millionth time he wished they had wifi out in this wilderness. He could really go for some Halsey right about now.
at least Colt wasn't around to give him grief about his music tastes.
"Maybe I should pick up the guitar," he murmured, dragging the stick through the mud.
"You're not really the guitar-playing type, I think," said a voice behind him.
the stick snapped, and Matt jumped, his heart pounding like a bass drum in his head. No one came out here. No one. Ever. His heart sunk.
he turned around halfway and saw the girl from the gift shop. At least, he thought it was her. Her fire engine red hair hung in two limp braids and a beanie barely clung to the crown of her head. She wasn't wearing her overalls like before, but the sweater and jeans she had on made him uncomfortably sweaty as well. How did she wear such warm clothes in May? The heat drenched him and ruined all hope of having dry clothes.
"W-what are you doing down here?"
she shrugged. "It's a free country. And town. And camp. And lake. Though for a free camp it's pretty crappy. I like the lake though."
"No one ever comes down here." he didn't know why he told her that. That didn't matter to her. She didn't need to know she was disrupting his private place.
or maybe she did.
she shrugged again. "Obviously that needs to change, then, because they're missing out on the sunsets of their life." She pointed toward the horizon, where the sun melted in the pale green leaves of the woods. "Who wouldn't want to see that."
the sunsets were his thing. Not the rest of the worlds.
he swallowed. "Are you staying at the camp?"
"No, I'm sleeping in the back of a stranger's car." she gave him a venomously sarcastic smile. "Of course I'm staying at the camp. You work there, right?"
why was he chatting with this stranger? This girl with the bright hair and bright smile was none of his business. He needed to go find Colt and let him bug him about calling home so that the world's orbit would fall back into place. Or his sanity would begin an orbit of its own.
he stood slowly, hoping she wouldn't notice his panic to get away from her as fast as possible.
his throat tightened with all the unsaid words in the art of her existence.
she looked up at him, and he guessed his fluster showed through, because she wrinkled her nose and asked, "What's with you?"
"What?" His voice barely squeezed out, and he had to swallow too many emotions. He hadn't tasted that many feelings in so long.
"Sit back down."
she sighed. "By the boat. I want to take a picture. You look like an emo 2009 kid who really wishes he was in a band because he's got all these pent up emotions but isn't cool enough to express them in anything but song."
he blinked slowly.
she blinked back. "I'm completely serious. Sit down, and I'll let you go back to your contemplation on life and pond scum. Please."
it was the please that caught him and sent him back to sitting in the mud. She wasn't a please kind of girl. Her eyes sparkled with independence and spirit. The way she stood on the one flat piece of dirt while surrounded by uneven land made it seem like the world had formed around her without a second thought. Her words rose and fell without a care for anyone else, and her lips curled with determination. She didn't say please. Not to just anyone.
maybe being 2009 emo wasn't a bad thing.
he looked at the dinghy, and the dinghy looked back at him, straight into his soul.
"Sucker," it said.
"I know," he replied.
and then the shutter clicked and he turned to ask for her name but all that was left of her was a whirl of red hair caught in the waning light.