By Erin Ruble

June 26, 2017


We paddle to our campsite under blue skies, glancing at the horizon. Thunderheads boil upward from three directions. My husband makes dinner while I wrestle with the tent, setting the final stake just as the first drops fall. By the time I give up trying to erect a tarp, I’m so wet that I strip in the tent’s vestibule so as not to flood the interior.

It’s still hours before dark, but the children, trapped inside, want a story. I pull out the crumpled pages I printed yesterday, copies of fairy tales I loved as a girl.

Urashima Taro rides a turtle to the bottom of the ocean, and remains there, unchanged, while centuries pass above.

Outside, the deluge continues. Water pools beneath the tent, pushing up the fabric.

After what seems like just three days, Taro insists on swimming home to visit his parents, where he discovers that they have died and he himself has become legend. In grief, he opens a magic box and ages three centuries at once.

The rain finally pauses, and we push through the flap into the world. The air shimmers with water. There is no telling if, beyond the lake, the road still exists.

Retrieving our boat, we pass into the rose-storm of sunset, startling a pair of loons. For twenty million years these birds have lived here. Over my children’s heads I watch this pair sound their tremulous cries, resurrecting their ancestors—as do we, in our melancholy and joy.

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