Second Chance(8)

By: Natalie Ann

He walked over and kissed her on the cheek. “You don’t need to wait on me, Grandma. I’m capable of getting myself a drink.” He opened the fridge and pulled the lemonade out and filled a glass. “But I will go sit on the deck and look out at the water.”

“You do that. Take some time and daydream. I don’t think you’ve daydreamed enough in your life. It’s time to put yourself first, Nick.”

“I think there are plenty of people out there right now who would argue I’ve always put myself first and that is how I got into this mess.”

“Then they don’t know the real you, do they?”

“Probably right. But still, for now, I’ll take you up on your suggestion and go sit in the sun and stare at the water. Just let me know when you’re ready to go to dinner.”

“Don’t worry about me. Worry about yourself.”

Nick nodded and walked out the back door and over to a chair, where he sat down and looked at the mountains in the distance. He wondered if he’d ever be able to daydream again.


Nick shut the top on his laptop. He’d been working all morning and wasn’t getting much accomplished. He was distracted and knew it. At first he couldn’t put his finger on why, then realized what the date was and knew.

Twelve years ago today, Mallory Denning turned eighteen years old and was never heard from nor seen again.

He stood up and stretched his arms over his head, arched his back a little, and decided to get some air. There was no comfortable place to sit and work here. His six-foot-three-inch frame was too big for his grandmother’s dainty chairs.

His grandmother had left about an hour ago to run errands, and Nick knew he couldn’t sit in the house by himself any longer. The silence was like a boa constrictor tightening around his neck. He needed to get out and move—escape even.

The day was beautiful; the sun was shining bright, not a cloud in the sky, nor a breeze in the air. The picture perfect time to get on the lake and paddle around, to lose himself to the beauty of nature.

Maybe daydream like his grandmother suggested, regardless of how frivolous it would be.

He had a company to run, software to create, a program to write. He couldn’t do those things if he was daydreaming.

But a short stint in the kayak might help.

He went up to his room, grabbed his Ray-Bans and slipped them on, then reached for the baseball hat he’d bought last week after he’d taken his grandmother out to dinner.

Picking his phone up, he held it in his hand for a moment, then put it back down. There was no reason to take it out on the water. Nothing would be urgent enough that it couldn’t wait until he returned.

Good step toward daydreaming, he told himself. Don’t be glued to your phone.

Making his way down to the dock, he pulled one of his grandmother’s kayaks out of the boathouse and inspected it. It looked like it hadn’t been used in a good year. Probably since the last time he visited, or Rene did. He knew his grandmother didn’t go out on the water by herself. The kayaks had always been there for visitors.

Laying the kayak on the grass, he walked over to the hose and turned the water on, then sprayed the dust and cobwebs off of it. Last minute, he washed the inside down too. It wouldn’t be the first time a spider had made a home inside the kayak, so he figured he’d flush anything out.

Once he was satisfied everything was clean and there were no leaks in the kayak either, he shut the hose off, slipped on a life vest, and pulled the kayak to the dock.

He was ready to put it in the water when he realized he’d forgotten the paddle. Talk about distractions and a rookie move. See, that was why he didn’t daydream.

Back in the boathouse once again, he pulled the paddle off the wall, adjusted the length to accommodate the span of his arms and then went back to the water.

He steadied the kayak against the dock, then eased himself in, stretched his long legs out in front of him and pushed off with the paddle away from the dock. There, that wasn’t bad. Just like riding a bike.

Better safe than sorry though. He stayed close to the shoreline and headed toward the right.

He’d been on the water for close to thirty minutes when he finally felt himself start to relax. The air was cool and crisp in his lungs, even though it was almost ninety degrees out. Cleaner, that’s what the air was. Cleaner then Richmond for sure, making it seem cool and crisp.

The lake was relatively quiet. Boats were driving around, water skiers having fun, children playing in yards, vacationers fishing off the docks. A little bit of everything, and yet still quieter and more peaceful than home.

Home, he thought to himself. It hadn’t ever really felt like home in Richmond. Just a place to lay his head each night, then get up and go to work the next day.