On my back, in the smooth depth of the green hull, I was rocked gently back and forth as the rowboat turned slowly counter-clockwise.
Circling there, experiencing the unique tension of buoyancy occurring beneath me, it felt as if the boat was performing a miracle, some kind of impossible balancing act between the sky and the surface of the water.
Evening sunlight pressed against the branches of a willow tree overhead. My stomach felt warm to the touch, though my shorts were still damp from an hour’s swim at four. As I spun away from shore, patches of light defined by shadow splashed upon the bare skin of my torso before spilling from the boat into the water below.
The scent of wild sagebrush hung above me like a cloud while the boat pushed further outwards. Then night fell.
I could hardly make out the shore on the other side. As I floated towards the center of the lake the boat continued to spiral, turning backwards to face the willow tree on the receding shoreline.
I saw you standing there in your green dress, your left hand gripping the cloth below your waist, raising the hemline slightly upwards of your ankles already submerged in water.
You looked perfect, as if you’d just emerged from the lake.
I raised my hand to wave. You started to smile, growing smaller by the minute. Water lapped against the sides of the rowboat as a sparrow crossed between us. It may have landed in the willow tree but I couldn’t be sure before the boat’s rotation swept you out of my sight.
I’d brought with me half a bottle of red wine.
It seemed useless to me now.
You called to me, and as your voice carried across the lake it passed through the last rays of twilight, willow bows and foxtails, over ripples, tadpoles, and scurrying crayfish, beneath the slowly turning stars over head. Only as your voice reached me through the night did I realize I was cold.
I turned my head to find you, and caught you spinning.
Spinning along with the fish and the plants and the crumbling lake house and trees that covered the shoreline. Spinning with the hills in the distance and the quickly darkening sky with no moon. Everything was spinning now, except for me.
I had never spun like you. You made it seem so easy, turning along with the rest of the world. Before long the spinning picked up, you and your surroundings churning together, boundaries absorbing each other until everything was combined into one dizzying, terrifying whir.
I held my breath, then sank slowly into the night.
Rocco Rivetti has lived in various towns up and down the coast of California his whole life. As a graduate of UC Berkeley, Rocco studied under authors Joyce Carol Oates, and Namwali Serpell. When not writing, Rocco makes music videos for bands, and his video work has appeared in publications like Pitchfork, Spin, The Fader, Dazed Magazine, and Stereogum.