It’s early sunrise when our Volvo finally stops.
Out the window, the sky hasn’t yet birthed
blue. You’re still asleep, strapped into your leopard-
print car seat, head leaning against the strap.
When I was nine, ten, eleven, there was nothing
more beautiful than watching the lake’s first wet yawns
at dawn. The thick-chested frogs leaping awake.
The fishing spiders slipping through dirt. Glass-
winged dragonflies diving, kissing the surface algae,
swooping away. Those summers, the lake was alive
and colorful and home. Everyday I jumped,
splashed, swam in those waters. Last night, I found
an old photo beneath my three-legged
nightstand. Pink and orange reflecting onto
the lake’s surface. The bottom half of the sky
and the top half of the lake formed two wings
of a halved butterfly. This morning, I knew
I had to take you there. You’re awake now,
hands rubbing your eyes. I pick you up from the seat.
Carry you. When we arrive, there’s nothing
here. No pink-orange surface. No frogs.
No water. All that remains is a giant crater left
in the ground like a paw print. The water long-
dried-up, leaving behind only a layer of crushed rock.
Where’s the lake? you ask. The sky only now starts
to turn blue. I don’t know, I say, looking up
at the sky. It’s warmer than I remember.
Maybe we drove to the wrong place.
Daniel Boyko is a writer from New Jersey. His work appears or is forthcoming in SOFTBLOW, Nanoism, Blue Marble Review, and The Aurora Journal, among others. He serves as Editor-in-Chief of Polyphony Lit. Wherever his dog is, he can’t be far behind.