Saturday, February 11, 2017

A Short Story by Edward Hower




On a warm summer day, I rowed my children across a shallow lake where some other children had died a hundred years before. 
My son, just recently past their ages, knew the story.  I watched his face struggle as he spotted them beneath the water, lying on their backs, wrapped in weed shrouds.  The plants swayed in the current, reaching toward the surface.
My daughter, younger, not knowing, said she saw green hills under the boat, and we were flying above them.  She pointed to the clouds floating beside us on the water.  My son saw me smile, and nodded.
Resting the oars, I listened to my live children talk in low voices against the stillness.  The voices hovered around the boat, making ripples that fanned out toward the shore where the pine trees watched us like tall angels.  The shadows of their branches settled over the water: huge, soft wings.
The boat glided on.
"Faster," my son said, watching the weeds.
"Slower,"  I whispered, as the clouds' reflections broke open before the bow.
My whisper scuttled over the wake: a water bug.
That day, the surface held.
But sometimes I feel the current rushing past me.  I reach for the oars to row my children across the sky.
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Edward Hower's writing has appeared in: The New York Times, Atlantic Monthly, Smithsonian, American Scholar and elsewhere. He has been awarded two Fulbright fellowships and grants from The National Endowment and The New York State Council on the Arts. He has published eleven books and taught at Cornell University, Ithaca College, Duke University, and Kenyetta College in Kenya.

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This story appeared in Voices in the Water: Collected Stories,  c Edward Hower 2010.

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