There was the darkness around me, the bleak noises of the night, the sounds that come from nowhere and then disappear in the same way, making my head swivel in search of ghosts. There was the sweet smell of rain, the mist that caught in my eyelashes, stroked the skin of my cheeks, kissed the bridge of my nose and the backs of my knees as I stood at the end of the dock, begging the lake to wrap me in its cool relief. The water lapped at the edges of the tree roots along the shore, eddied out beneath me in dark, swirling pools. I could see your face, or the outlines of your bones, searching my own, looking for the relief you once found there. I could feel an emptiness in my mouth, left after I poured out everything at your feet before you disappeared. I could hear the echo of your own words in the ripples on the lake, as if I had skipped a rock the way you once taught me to – one of your hands pressed against my own, the other against my lower back, beckoning my body into yours. I could still feel the pressure of your chest, heavy on my back, your breathing filling my own ribcage.
The boards were slick under my bare feet. The dog sat with me, wrapping his furry body around my legs, licking the rain from my legs. His fur shimmered in the moonlight and I could see the tight muscles down his back and the haunches of his legs like he wanted to jump into the lake and fish out the moon, lay it at my feet like a present, the same way he used to lay his ball at yours. How he would balance it on the top of your toes before sitting back and begging you to play, his tail wagging so hard that his whole body shook. Around us, the trees ate the clouds, their branches swaying and heavy with rain. The buoys in the lake looked like they were dancing in the moonlight, their heavy ropes whispering against one another.
The watch you gave me hung loosely from my wrist. You always teased me for not having it resized, but I liked the way it moved as I moved, how it ran up and down my arm as I gestured. You warned me that I would lose it one day. As I sat there, I could hear the final words you had spoken to me on repeat in my mind. I could feel them written into the very flesh of my hands, see your handwriting flowing across my fingertips. We had come here together the previous summer. You had tossed me into the water as soon as we had arrived, its silky coolness gluing the clothes to my body, water pouring from hair as I broke the surface and sent some spraying back at your legs. We had made plans to come back this year, which is why I found myself there alone, my ill-fitting watch slack against my wrist, until I finally let it go.