Sunday, July 1, 2012
A boy in the water between the swim float and the dock says to me, "I need help." His face tilted to the sky and a sole of one foot are the only part of him breaking the surface of the water. I reach a toe down to the muddy bottom of Lake Wandawega but feel only a brush of weed and nothing. If I pull him to my neck, we'll sink, so I put my hand under his torso and push up with no more leverage than the kicking of my legs. His arms churn the water. I can feel his chest in my hand expanding with the work of his breathing as he plows toward the dock. I'm a water waiter, holding him up toward the air, paddling with my other arm, the effort too much to be able to give him any encouragement. He grabs the side of the dock, says, "thanks" and we go our separate ways toward more fun. Of all the dark-haired bare-chested boys I see running around the rest of our long summer day at camp, boys catching fish, flying on the rope swing, roasting marshmallows, sleeping on benches through The Parent Trap, I can't tell which is he.