Flash Fiction Friday

The Summer People


“What do you think’s going on?” Tommy said to his new friend. 

Josh was pale and he sometimes had a faraway look in his eyes that made Tommy a little uneasy, but he was nice enough, and one of the few boys he’d met so far at the lake that was his own age.

“Looks like someone drowned,” Josh said in his odd voice. It was like he was just getting over a cold. 

Tommy studied the group of boats a hundred yards down the shoreline, the men within them standing up- something his dad told him to never do in a boat. It could be dangerous. There were a gathering of people on the shoreline as well, most of them embracing a woman who looked like she could barely stand on her own.

“Geez, I hope not. That’d be terrible,” Tommy said.

“Maybe. Maybe not.” Josh slipped off the swimming raft into the water. The back of his neck was blueish black, like he’d hit it on something. Tommy wondered if it hurt. 

There was an exclamation from the crowd and a shape appeared in the water beside one of the boats. A man in scuba gear. He was holding something gray.

“Pretty soon all the summer people will be gone,” Josh said, floating motionlessly on his back. His eyes stared at the faultless blue sky. “And it’ll be quiet again.”

Tommy felt a sickening lurch in his stomach as the diver hoisted whatever he’d found on the bottom of the lake into the boat and the woman on the shoreline collapsed. He squinted against the glaring sun. The lady looked really familiar.

“It’s quiet in the fall when the water turns cold and the loons fly south,” Josh said. 

Tommy’s mouth was dry and he was freezing, like it was already fall instead of summer. He looked down at his legs, dangling in the water, and they were blue like the back of Josh’s neck. He knew that woman on the shore. Why had his mother fainted? And why was he so cold?

“You’ll like it here,” Josh said, slowly sinking below the surface. “When all the summer people leave.”